The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Announces Its Spring 2021 Digital Season

December 17, 2020

Six dance and six musical performances will be streamed live from Annenberg Center stages

Dance livestreams include Paul Taylor Dance Company, HopeBoykinDance, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, Ayodele Casel, and Matthew Neenan

Music livestreams include Samara Joy and Pasquale Grasso, Duo Tempesta di Mare, Thomas Kraines and Kinan Abou-afach, Zakir Hussain, Keyon Harrold, and Eddie Palmieri Afro-Caribbean Jazz Quartet

Building on the success of its fall digital season, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania announces a series of six dance and six musical performances, streamed live, for the spring 2021 digital season, beginning February 4.

The Annenberg Center’s spring 2021 digital season reflects the wide range of diverse artists and art forms presented on its stages during its near 50-year history. Designed specifically for the virtual stage, these original performances feature world-renowned musicians and dance ensembles, rising stars, world premieres, and Philadelphia debuts, along with programming that takes inspiration from the extraordinary social changes of the past nine months. Each presentation integrates live chat and interactive Q&A with the performers. The independent film series will be announced in early 2021. 

“This past fall, as one of only a few venues in the Philadelphia area that was streaming live performances, we were enormously gratified to be able to give artists the chance to take the stage and share their inspirational work once again,” said Executive and Artistic Director Christopher A. Gruits. “And we’re excited that our spring digital season will build on this successful foundation. So many artists have been fueled by the challenges of the past nine months to create deeply powerful programming, exploring and reflecting our experiences. We look forward to presenting this important work in a number of world premieres, and we also are eager to see many well-loved artists, whose work will lift us up and provide joy and solace.”


Dance performances in the Annenberg Center’s spring digital season include the Paul Taylor Dance Company, featuring six dancers in iconic works that explore contrasting sides of human nature. (February 18) HopeBoykinDance’s performance marks Boykin’s Philadelphia choreographic debut. Beloved for her tenures with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and PHILADANCO, Boykin will dance alongside five other dancers in a program of world premiere works. (March 11)

Rennie Harris Puremovement returns to the Annenberg Center with an evening of works including two that directly reflect on current tragedies facing our nation. (April 1) Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers brings a program that includes the world premiere of The Wind, performed by Kun-Yang Lin himself, who returns to the stage for the first time since his retirement from dancing in 2013. In collective, the program will reflect on the state of the world amidst a pandemic with prevailing messages of hope and unity. (April 22)

Ayodele Casel, whom Gregory Hines called “one of the top young tap dancers in the world,” makes her Philadelphia debut in an all-female program entitled Chasing Magic, alongside singer/songwriter Crystal Monee Hall and acclaimed pianist Annastasia Victory. (May 6) Matthew Neenan, Choreographer in Residence at Pennsylvania Ballet and co-founder of BalletX, closes out the season with a site-specific world premiere exploring intimacy in isolation. (May 27)


Jazz vocalist Samara Joy and guitarist Pasquale Grasso make their Annenberg Center debut performing a mix of originals and American Songbook classics, offering a glimpse of the future of jazz. (February 4) Duo Tempesta di Mare features the group’s founding artistic co-directors, Gwyn Roberts, recorder and flute, and Richard Stone, theorbo, exploring works by composers who stayed close to home, as performers have currently been forced to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. (February 25)

Cellist Thomas Kraines of the Daedalus Quartet, Penn’s quartet-in-residence, joins forces with cellist, oudist, and composer Kinan Abou-afach for a program of original compositions and improvisations, as well as the world premiere of a new work composed by Gene Coleman. (March 4) Zakir Hussain, the pre-eminent tabla virtuoso of our time and widely considered a chief architect of contemporary world music, returns to the Annenberg Center for a lively showcase of Indian music, joined by Pezhham Akhavass (tombek and Iranian percussion), Marcus Gilmore (drums) and Abbos Kosimov (doyra and Uzbek percussion). (April 8)

Hailed as the ”future of the trumpet” by Wynton Marsalis, Keyon Harrold is a sought-after, electric young artist whose music draws on elements of jazz, classical, rock, blues and hip-hop. (April 15) Legendary pianist, bandleader and beloved patriarch of Latin jazz Eddie Palmieri has amassed nine Grammy® Awards while remaining on the cutting edge of Afro-Caribbean music since the early 1960s. Known for his bold charisma and innovative drive, Palmieri fuses his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of jazz influences as one of the great pianists of his era. (May 7)

For full program details see the chronological calendar on the Annenberg Center’s website.