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Penn Live Arts Blog / By / Katherine Blodgett

Recent Highlights: Sep – Dec 2022

Posted December 15, 2022

Our 50th celebration season kicked off with a look back at our rich history in a Penn Today story and a look forward to the future expansion of the Annenberg Center with the announcement of the new Weitzman Theatre, named for noted designer and philanthropist Stuart Weitzman. The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Business Journal and Musical America all reported on the exciting plans for the new theatre. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Apr – Jun 2022

Posted June 8, 2022

This spring brought two of today’s best dance companies, a lovely mix of musical styles, film premieres, community connections and above all, happy audiences ready to embrace amazing performances. And, to cap it off, the announcement of our 50th anniversary season made it a spring to remember!

Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) and MOMIX both graced our Zellerbach stage, bringing works never before seen in Philadelphia. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Jan – Mar 2022

Posted April 12, 2022

We kicked off the second half of the season, especially rich and robust in programs, with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. This impressive ensemble of all-male dancers wowed with their technical expertise and en pointe work, but also allowed us an opportunity to share collective laughs as they poked fun at some of ballet’s traditions. Both The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Gay News ran profiles of Trocks dancers with Philadelphia ties, and NBC10 picked up footage of the first performance for their 11 PM newscast. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Aug – Dec 2021

Posted December 20, 2021

Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant performs on December 12.
Photo: Elizabeth Robertson for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 21/22 season marks the first with our new identity, Penn Live Arts (PLA), and we’re excited that it highlights our connection with the University of Pennsylvania even as we broaden our performances to venues outside of our home at the Annenberg Center. The name also underscores our commitment to live performances, which we’re proud to say continued throughout the pandemic.

Since we officially re-opened the Annenberg Center in August, we have welcomed 10,000 people to a wide variety of events, from scores of student shows to Penn Vet’s rite-of-passage White Coat Ceremony to Legacy on Broad, the largest Bollywood-fusion dance competition on the East Coast, to our first indoor Penn Live Arts presentations since March of 2020. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Apr – Jun 2021

Posted June 23, 2021

Penn Live Arts Debuts World Premieres Virtual Stage Philadelphia Debuts New Music Latin Jazz Jazz Film Family Dance

Kun-Yang Lin performing The Wind in our Zellerbach Theatre, Apr 22, 2021
As our country began to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, arts lovers were eager to process feelings and emotions through music and dance performances. The final weeks of our spring season offered up just such an opportunity through a host of evocative programs. Here are some highlights.

Rennie Harris Puremovement gave us a powerful, message-driven performance, including works about police violence and the Black male experience. In its review of the performance, The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “His narrative voice is as compelling here as it is in his storied contemporary dance career with Philadanco and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.” Viewers commented that it was “mesmerizing” and “showcasing community pain.” Learn more about Philadelphia-native Harris in our 5 Questions article or this Philadelphia Tribune profile. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Jan – Mar 2021

Posted March 30, 2021

Music World Premieres Virtual Stage Special Features Philadelphia Debuts Film Early Music Dance Penn Live Arts Debuts

Photo courtesy of HopeBoykinDance
Powerful. Stunning. Inspiring. These are just a few of the words our audiences have shared with us since the spring digital season began in early February. It’s always great to hear such praise for the artists who have given a superlative performance. But in the past year, as we transitioned to livestreamed performances, it is particularly meaningful. And when we read that “the production team stars along with the dancers,” we get excited at the thought that perhaps that invisible barrier, across the virtual divide, just might be dissolving, bringing our virtual audiences so much closer. As one of only a couple of venues in the Philadelphia area to stream live performances in real time, this is a wonderful affirmation of the artists and their art and our staff learning to work in completely new ways. Here are a few highlights from the first weeks of our spring season.

Preserving the live experience has been our overriding goal for our 20/21 season. For debut artists, the dramatic tension of the live experience lends an extra level of energy, even in a virtual setting. For the audience, hearing new artists such as rising jazz stars Samara Joy and Pasquale Grasso gives a peek into the future of the art form. These fresh voices and musicians were a great kickoff to the spring season. You can read more about Samara Joy and her connection to Philadelphia in The Philadelphia Tribune and hear from both artists on our blog in our 5 Questions series. Read more...

Spotlight on Priscilla Felten, Wharton '20

Posted May 14, 2020

Special Features

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Felten
The universe of performing arts is going to need talented and committed people like Priscilla Felten, W’20, when it emerges from the pandemic.

With a degree from the Wharton School and years of hands-on experience as both performer and highly-motivated intern, Felten will be uniquely positioned to figure out new ways for the entertainment industry to carry on when we return to the “new normal.” “There are a lot of open questions,” she says. “How can it be cost-effective for those that must sell a lot of tickets to survive? Will people even want to go into theaters or will they prefer to consume entertainment and culture from home? Will there be a hybrid of live performances and online streaming? How will artists stay safe onstage and off? How might policies and contracts change?” Read more...

Spot Gourmet Burgers owner Josh Kim responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by giving back to communities in need

Posted May 6, 2020

Children's Festival Special Features

Photo by Steven Falk / Philadelphia Inquirer
If you’ve been to the Philadelphia Children’s Festival in recent years, you know the Spot Gourmet Burgers food cart, which serves up the best burgers, fries and hot dogs, hands-down. Spot Burgers is owned by Josh Kim, and his food cart is one of the most well-loved additions to the Festival. In fact, Spot (and Kim’s companion hot dog cart, Winky’s) quickly became the Annenberg Center’s official, exclusive food vendor of the Festival. While he opened an actual brick-and-mortar restaurant on Girard Avenue in 2016, Kim still continues going out to events and festivals because he loves the human and community connection that has always been part of his work. Read more...

World music superstar Angélique Kidjo remains active on the virtual stage

Posted April 30, 2020

World Music Penn Live Arts Recommends

Chart-topping world music superstar Angélique Kidjo shone radiantly when she performed in the Zellerbach Theatre back in February (co-presented by World Café Live) and she remains a beacon of light since then, participating in multiple projects that push her incredible artistry out into the virtual space for us all to enjoy. This busy, four-time Grammy® Award winner recently performed on the new online series Live with Carnegie Hall, along with Nigerian Afropop star Yemi Alade, Senegalese singer-guitarist Baaba Maal, and another recent Annenberg Center performer, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. The session was moderated by John Schaefer of WNYC. 

Kidjo also performed Bella Bellow’s “Blewu” with Yo-Yo Ma as part of his #SongsofComfort series, appeared on Read more...