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Penn Live Arts Blog / April 2021

Until we meet again (in person), Philadelphia Children’s Festival

Posted April 29, 2021

Photo from our 2019 Philadelphia Children's Festival
Regrettably, for the second year in a row, the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent us from holding the Philadelphia Children’s Festival. We eagerly look forward to spring 2022 when we can welcome your families for the Festival again. In lieu of the Festival, which would have been this week, we will offer children and their grown-ups the magic of The Amazing Max through Zoom. What I love about Max and his Virtual Magic Academy is his ability to connect with children. This virtual experience is so much more than watching Max do tricks, it’s doing them along with him. And, in my own personal experience, this one hour on the screen results in many hours, even days, of being an audience to your child’s magic practice OFF the screen.

In this blog post, I am happy to shine a spotlight on our amazing PlazaMania partners, who normally fill our lobby and Outdoor Plaza with fun, interactive arts activities. Read more...

5 Questions with Ayodele Casel

Posted April 22, 2021

Penn Live Arts Debuts Dance Philadelphia Debuts

Ayodele Casel’s accolades continue to roll in. The New York Times hails her as “a tap dancer of unquestionable radiance,” and she was named one of the publication’s “Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019." She will even be featured on a postage stamp soon, as part of a celebration of tap! Casel has become an inspiring and powerful voice for the art form, and we can’t wait for her to make her Philadelphia debut on our stage on May 6. But first, let’s discover more about Casel in just f̶i̶v̶e̶ six questions (we couldn’t turn down the chance to learn a bit more!)

What first got you into dance?

Seeing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time while taking a “History of the Movies” course in high school is what peaked my tap dancing curiosity. I thought they were magic. I wanted to teach myself how to move like them and I would check out their films at the library, go home, and lock myself in the room to revel in what they were doing. My sophomore year in college presented my first opportunity to take a tap class and I was in all my glory living the dream of being a little closer to feeling like I was in 1930’s Hollywood. Read more...

Feintuch Family Lobby Dedication

Posted April 20, 2021

You may have heard that we recently celebrated an exciting milestone – the 50th anniversary of the Annenberg Center’s dedication! The Center was the first multidisciplinary performing arts center in the region, and in 1971, brought a new wave of creativity and innovation to Penn and West Philadelphia. Though much has transpired in the last half century, for those close to the Annenberg Center from the beginning it feels like just yesterday that Penn committed to the performing arts with the establishment of a professional venue here on campus.

Among those who fondly remember our early days are Rick Feintuch, a member of the Annenberg Center Board, and his wife Merry, both graduates of the Wharton School Class of 1974. Together with their sons Jason and Jonathan (both proud Penn grads as well) and their families, they made a generous gift to name a central space here at the Annenberg Center: the Feintuch Family Lobby. We were thrilled to be able to host a virtual dedication ceremony for the Feintuch Family Lobby on the Annenberg Center’s 50th anniversary, April 8, 2021. Read more...

5 Questions with Kun-Yang Lin

Posted April 15, 2021


In five questions, we aim to discover more about Annenberg Center artists and others whom we find interesting. This time, we feature dancer/choreographer Kun-Yang Lin whose company returns to our stage on April 22 with a world premiere and more. “Lin’s dances, simultaneously abstract and specific, create and inhabit worlds of their own.” (The New York Times) Let’s learn more about Lin’s background and choreographic inspiration! 

1. What first got you into dance? 

I view dance as my first language. I was raised in a home where my parents never spoke the same language (Mandarin and Taiwanese), so I learned to communicate through body language, gesture and action. I also noticed that in my community, the small village of Hsinchu in Taiwan in the 70's, there were no opportunities for boys to pursue dance and performance, which inspired me to explore new possibilities with dance and community building. I started a small group of male dancers when I was around 12 years old. That group was the first "seed" – planting the idea of developing a company of dancers as part of my life's calling. Read more...

Celebrating our 50th anniversary

Posted April 8, 2021

Today, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Annenberg Center. The gala event, held on April 8, 1971, was a proud milestone in the history of the University of Pennsylvania, and a momentous occasion for the entire Philadelphia region. As the first multi-disciplinary theatre in the city, we have, since our founding, served as a cultural destination that has connected audiences and the University through a range of innovative programs across music, dance, theatre and film.

Addressing the audience on what The New York Times called a “huge ochre-carpeted lobby” of the brand new $5.7 million theatre, Nancy Hanks, head of the National Endowment for the Arts said, “The Center is designed to benefit the community, the campus and especially the students and faculty by surrounding dramatic experience with the intellectual, research and scientific resources of the University.” George Gerbner, Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, added, “It will be a place where students, professionals, artists and scholars join campus and community in the exploration of the living and electronic arts as they participate in the conduct of inquiry into its forms and nature, and into its role in our lives." More memories of the ceremony can be found on page six of the Penn Almanac’s archival issue. Read more...