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Penn Live Arts Blog / December 2021

Happy holidays

Posted December 21, 2021

Happy holidays from all of us at Penn Live Arts!

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...

Carols after a Plague

Posted December 8, 2021

Artwork by Sasan Saidi
Silence not Holy Black Madonna
Mother of All
Offer sacred praise to her
If not, thy tongue should silence give
Holy tone she is
Wholly listen in
- Shara Nova, from Carols after a Plague: II. Tone-policing

Like so much that has happened in the last twelve or more months, Carols after a Plague is the solution to a problem. In fact, so much of creativity, whether artistic or scientific, is the result of facing a challenge that needs solving. In this case, the challenge posed was multi-faceted: “How to record these conflicting feelings, born of isolation, fear, and social unrest? How to make a record of this time? How to better reflect the community we live in?” Read more...

5 Questions with Michelle Dorrance

Posted December 1, 2021

On December 10-11, we welcome Dorrance Dance for its Penn Live Arts debut. "Dorrance is a virtuoso, both as a dancer and choreographer," (The New York Times) and we can’t wait to have this tap superstar’s company grace our stage. But first, let’s learn a little bit more about her in just five questions.

1. What first got you into dance?
My mom was a professional ballet dancer, and she started a school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina when I was barely a year old, so I started dancing very young, but I was pretty terrible at ballet (inherited my soccer coach father's flatter feet and much less flexible legs). However, I quickly excelled at/became obsessed with tap dancing because it was a form of musical expression, and that came much more naturally to me than graceful movement as a loose-limbed kid. And I truly fell in love with the art form through the tutelage of the school's founding tap teacher, Gene Medler. Very different from most "studio" tap dance teachers of the time, Gene sought out the elders of our community, taught us a history we never would have learned elsewhere, and brought us to the early tap dance festivals to study with cutting edge young dancers like Savion Glover and the last of the jazz-era hoofers who were in their 80s and 90s at the time. I feel so incredibly lucky to have grown up with Gene as my teacher, mentor, and friend. Read more...