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5 Questions with Christopher Gruits

Posted October 12, 2021

Our 5 Questions series takes us behind the scenes with artists and other personalities in the Penn Live Arts space. You may already know our Executive & Artistic Director Christopher Gruits, who appears onstage in person or virtually before shows, welcoming you and giving some insights into what you'll be seeing. Now, we turn the lens around and share about what Chris is thinking as we begin our 50th anniversary celebration. Plus, learn about some intriguing aspects of his life that you might not have guessed.

1. What does the new identity, Penn Live Arts, signify, both now and for the future?
Penn Live Arts really reflects where we are at this point in time. It honors our roots as a Penn institution, connecting us more closely to the University community. At the same time, it symbolizes our increasingly expanded programming outside the walls of the Annenberg Center. And, at its most basic, it reflects our commitment to live performance. Read more...

Video Celebration: Lila Downs

Posted September 28, 2021

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic American Heritage Month, an annual celebration of the cultural contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. To honor this special month, we are highlighting the music and artistry of one of our favorite artists, Lila Downs. This global superstar has performed on our stage many times over the years and was supposed to appear again in May 2020 as our Artist-in-Residence. While that event had to be cancelled, we cannot wait to welcome Downs back on April 21 and share her powerful music and vibrant, intoxicating stage presence with all of you. In the meantime, please enjoy some videos of her hits and special performances from the past few years. Read more...

5 Questions with Alan Pierson

Posted September 20, 2021

We are so excited to open our 21/22 season with Alarm Will Sound on September 25. Hailed as “the future of classical music” by The New York Times, the acclaimed new music ensemble makes its first return to Philadelphia in 12 years to perform John Luther Adams’ site-specific work Ten Thousand Birds at the Morris Arboretum. In our eager anticipation, we connected with Alan Pierson, Artistic Director and conductor of Alarm Will Sound, to learn more about his life as an artist and the ensemble’s recent activities in just five questions. Enjoy! Read more...

Celebrating National Dance Day

Posted September 17, 2021

Caroline Leipf, our Assistant Director for Education & Engagement, learning the 2019 National Dance Day routine at the Kennedy Center.
Celebrating dance is always important. Dance is a universal language with endless physical, mental, social and spiritual benefits. And this fall, we have even more reason to celebrate dance as it is returning to our theatres!

September 18 is National Dance Day. Join the party and dance wherever you are. I will be dancing in my living room with my children. How about you? To learn some new moves and participate in the #NationalDanceDay community across the nation, here is the official 2021 National Dance Day routine tutorial taught by Brian & Scott Nicholson. No experience is necessary so give it a try! Read more...

An exciting return to being together

Posted September 13, 2021

The show must go on. This iconic theatre saying has never been truer. We are proud to have kept artists performing live on the virtual stage this past year, bringing you numerous world premieres and debuts as one of the few arts organizations in the city to offer real-time, digital performances. But our core mission is live, in-person performing arts and we can’t wait to be safely together with you again soon. 

As a first step, our staff has reunited at the Annenberg Center, and it’s been wonderful to see each other in-person and continue the preparations to welcome you back to our theatres. Read more...

Film returns this fall

Posted September 10, 2021


Cactus Flower (2017)
Our fall 2021 film series features work responding to pressing concerns: the impact of climate change and shifting political alliances on our environment as well as the effects of the global pandemic.

In September, our On the Environment films address climate change from a variety of perspectives and locations. In Landfall (2020), we examine what happens when recovery efforts and global capitalism collide in Puerto Rico while in Titixe (2018), we witness the deep links between the loss of a beloved family member, the loss of cultural tradition, and consequently, the deterioration of an agricultural environment. Two short films, The Lake and The Lake (2019) and When the Lionfish Came (2015), highlight the impact of the obliteration of cultural and environmental resources. Read more...

A Summer Hiatus

Posted July 6, 2021

With the unveiling of our new name and new season of events, our Penn Live Arts blog is taking a brief summer break. The months of July and August will be spent gearing up for our exciting return to live, in-person events in September.

This blog has been a wonderful way to keep in touch during the pandemic. We’ve gotten to know past and present artists through our 5 Questions series, featured numerous guest writers from the arts and Penn communities and had opportunities to spotlight some of our significant events like the Feintuch Family Lobby dedication and the kick-off of our multi-year 50th anniversary celebration with #MyAnnenbergStory. And all of this will continue right here in September when we welcome audiences back into our theatres for the 21/22 season. Read more...

Two big announcements

Posted June 29, 2021

We welcome you back to our theatres to share in the tremendous joy of live performances in our 21/22 season. It is a redefining moment for us as we begin a multi-year celebration of our 50th anniversary, announcing not only a new season but a new identity that proudly encompasses all that we offer to the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia region. This exciting new chapter honors our legacy, strengthens our connection to Penn and begins a transformative future.

Welcome back for live performance.

If there is anything the past year has reinforced, it is our passion for live performance. Simply put, it is core to our mission. We are grateful and proud to have kept artists performing live on the virtual stage, bringing you numerous world premieres and debuts as one of the few arts organizations in the city to offer real-time, digital performances. While we now have proof that we don’t need to be confined to a physical space to connect with each other and our artists, our 21/22 season is a first step on our ambitious path, as we present a wider variety of programming for a wider variety of audiences. The best artists, from iconic legends to rising stars, grace our stage with many U.S. and Philadelphia premieres. We feature beloved dance companies, jazz greats, a brand-new, family-friendly cirque series and even an innovative, site-specific work outside. Subscriptions are available now, offering up to 35% off regular pricing and great subscriber benefits, including free ticket exchanges, discounted parking, deals at local restaurants and much more. Read more...

Recent Highlights: Apr – Jun 2021

Posted June 23, 2021

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

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...

#MyAnnenbergStory continues to grow

Posted June 15, 2021

Dr. Mauro Calcagno shares his #MyAnnenbergStory.
“I spent a lot of time as a young patron in theaters like the one I work in now. My heart swells with nostalgia every time I watch a performer take to the stage.” And our hearts are also full as we continue to receive touching #MyAnnenbergStory submissions like this one from our Front of House Manager, Kathleen.

As you might have seen, April 8th of this year marked the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Annenberg Center. To start the multi-year celebration, we kicked off #MyAnnenbergStory as a way for us to showcase 50 years of fond memories, special occasions and unique Annenberg Center experiences. Read more...

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