Penn Live Arts Blog / January 2023

The legendary Martha Graham Dance Company brings two Philadelphia premieres and the timeless masterpiece, Appalachian Spring

Posted January 31, 2023

Archival photo of Martha Graham Dance Company in Appalachian Spring, Photo by Arnold Eagle
“Dancer of the Century,” (TIME) genius, revolutionary, brilliant and superstar. These are just a few of the terms used to describe the mother of modern dance in America, Martha Graham.

In 1926, the Martha Graham Dance Company (MGDC) exploded onto the world stage, stunning audiences with its unique approaches, stimulating subject matters, angular movement vocabulary and powerful theatrics. Graham’s prolific repertoire of 181 dances, her own spectacular performances and her company’s commanding appearances are forever embedded in the memories of devoted fans. Graham’s famous mantra is at the heart and soul of the company’s work, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body. The body says what words cannot. Movement never lies:” Read more...

A renaissance for Penn Live Arts

Posted January 26, 2023

Part of the cover from Penn's Fall/Winter 2022 Inspiring Impact Magazine.
From the construction of the new Weitzman Theatre, to increased support of student performers across campus, to expanded residencies with groundbreaking artists, Penn Live Arts is putting innovative performing arts center stage at Penn and in Philadelphia. Read more...

Our fall education and engagement activities

Posted January 17, 2023

NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown and longtime company member Kene Holliday visit an Intro to Directing class.
“It’s like watching people paint with their life, with their bodies,” longtime Negro Ensemble Company actor Kene Holliday told a roomful of Penn students about the art of acting this past November. Holliday would know; the historic company’s Brownstein Residency for Artistic Innovation with Penn Live Arts this year marks more than 50 years of the stage, film and TV actor’s career. He and NEC Artistic Director Karen Brown made Penn Professor McKenna Kerrigan’s Intro to Directing class one stop in a busy series of outreach engagements to students and the West Philadelphia community, kicking off our education and engagement activities for the season. Read more...

Thoughts on Dance Theatre of Harlem

Posted January 10, 2023


Dance Theatre of Harlem artists in Change, photo by Rachel Neville
Black ballet dancers were virtually non-existent on the stage in the late nineteen sixties. There wasn’t even a discussion about this exclusion. Mainstream classical ballet was white. The racist norm was that black dancers could not physically perform classical dance and they would “break the look” of dancers in a line.

Philadelphia’s own Joan Myers Brown, PHILADANCO’s founder, was turned away from our hometown ballet company because of race. There was the occasional artist that broke through the color barrier and was by default essentially a token. It was not a very encouraging situation for dancers of color. Read more...