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5 Questions with Pam Tanowitz

Posted September 22, 2020

Dance Special Features

We continue our series aiming to discover more about Annenberg Center artists and others whom we find interesting in only five questions. Today, we learn more about Pam Tanowitz, who “has long been one of the most formally brilliant choreographers around” (The New York Times). A prolific star of the dance world, Tanowitz is known for taking traditional dance movements and cheekily reconstructing them with limitless possibilities, mischievous musicality and pure emotion. We are thrilled to welcome Tanowitz’ company for its Philadelphia debut on October 15 and are eager to get a glimpse into her choreographic world!

What inspires you to create?

I’m always inspired by music and whatever space I’m creating a work for but I’m most inspired by the people in the studio with me: the dancers. Every one of my dancers is unique and brings something special and particular to my work. My favorite moments in creation are when I’m working with the dancers on solving some sort of “puzzle” (whether it be dealing with specific steps or how they move through space) and they make what they think is a mistake. However, I usually fall in love with their mistakes and more often than not, their “mistakes” become choreography. Read more...

Jamey Hampton, Ashley Roland and the unsurpassable BodyVox

Posted September 15, 2020

Dance Special Features

Photo of Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton courtesy of BodyVox
Audiences have been wooed for decades by the impressive physicality and larger-than-life theatricality of MOMIX, Pilobolus, I’m So Optimistic (ISO) and BodyVox. Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, the Emmy award-winning choreographers and founders of BodyVox, are a major part of the mayhem, memories and magic comprising this incredible legacy of inventiveness in dance. The husband-and-wife duo, who spent years touring the world with Pilobolus, MOMIX and ISO, founded BodyVox in 1997, since creating at least 30 original shows, 12 films and three operas, encompassing more than 200 original dances.

In 1986, Hampton and Roland appeared in MOMIX’s first performance on the Dance Celebration Monday Night Series. The unforgettable program included Woomen (1983) by Hampton and Daniel Ezralow, Fever (1984) by Roland, and Skiva (1983) and Mr. Seawater’s Pool (1985) by MOMIX founder Moses Pendleton, Hampton, Ezralow and Morleigh Steinberg. Hampton and Roland returned with ISO in 1988 to perform their witty duet piece, Scare Myself, and Captain Tenacity, the hilarious signature solo work in which Roland, dressed as a Velcro-clad superhero, runs, jumps and sticks herself onto a wall, defying gravity to thunderous music by Richard Wagner. Both works reappeared sporadically over the years in BodyVox programs and at Dance Celebration galas. Read more...

T-VOCE goes virtual this fall

Posted September 10, 2020

Children's Festival Family

As many of us navigated the virtual and hybrid back-to-school activities of this week, our friends at Opera Philadelphia announced that T-VOCE will rehearse virtually this fall, providing teens across the city with the chance to safely uplift their minds, bodies and hearts with song. T-VOCE, pronounced "tee-VO-chay" and short for Teen Voices of the City Ensemble, is a free, inclusive choir that uses music to build musicianship and vocal skills, while providing teens ages 13-19 an outlet for self-expression and community. As one of our past Philadelphia Children’s Festival partners, Annenberg Center school and family audiences are likely to recall performances by T-VOCE at the 2016, 2017 and 2018 festivals, including Hip H’opera, a work that combines classical music with hip-hop. Thanks to ArtSmart, Esperanza Dance Ensemble, Fortress Arts Academy, Opera Philadelphia, Play On Philly and Singing City, Philadelphia teens can enjoy choir rehearsals, voice lessons and other workshops in writing, spoken word and more this fall. If you know a local teen or someone that does, spread the word!

5 Questions with Santino Lo

Posted September 8, 2020

Special Features

On tour with a production in Brisbane, Australia // Photo courtesy of Santino Lo
For this installment of our 5 Questions series, we are thrilled to highlight Santino Lo, Artistic Project Manager here at the Annenberg Center. Santino joined our production team in 2017 following his several years as a festival and touring production manager based in New York City. He has worked extensively with choreographers Jonah Bokaer and Marjani Forté-Saunders as well as the River to River Festival and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. Read on to learn more about Santino!

1. What first got you into live event production? Do you have a background in the arts?

Growing up in a family of musicians, concert and opera productions have always been in my periphery. At one point, I wanted to be an orchestral musician. But, as I was graduating and considering grad school, I learned that I really didn’t enjoy auditions. I was fortunate to have attended a college where I had a lot of freedom to work with choreographers and artists of all disciplines. Read more...

Our fall 2020 digital season takes the performance to you

Posted September 1, 2020

Dance Early Music Film Jazz Philadelphia Premieres U.S. Premiere Virtual Stage World Premieres

Martha Graham Dance Company, Photo by Hibbard Nash Photography
We are excited to announce our fall 2020 digital season! Curated and created just for our patrons, our exclusive live performances will bring some of the best dance and music artists from our stage to your home. Also, new for this season, we are pleased that films will be returning to our line-up, broadening our programming and supporting independent film on campus and in West Philadelphia.

Each one-night-only music and dance performance will be broadcast live from our theatre and be followed by a Q&A with the artists. Viewers will have the opportunity to chat live with each other and the performers, forging connections at a time when we all feel so apart. Read on to discover what’s coming to our virtual stage! Read more...

Tiny Desk Concerts by Annenberg Center Artists

Posted August 31, 2020

Penn Live Arts Recommends Chamber Music Classical Jazz Latin Jazz Music New Music Virtual Stage World Music

Esperanza Spalding's 2010 Tiny Desk concert
Since 2008, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts has presented over 800 performances. The online concert series, perhaps the most popular of its kind in the world, features different artists from every musical genre in intimate, in-studio performances lasting about 15-20 minutes. There’s only one main rule for the artists to follow: All equipment, instruments and people must fit behind the desk. The famed desk space, reminiscent of a quirky, jam-packed office cubicle, has hosted many Annenberg Center artists over the years. Here are a few of our recent favorites! Read more...

Just keep dancing!

Posted August 27, 2020

Special Features Penn Live Arts Recommends Dance

Readers, this week we invite YOU to take a dance class with New York City Ballet Principal Daniel Ulbricht. Really? Really! We recently presented a masterclass with Daniel, and he has generously recorded a ballet class for us to share with our entire Annenberg Center family. Whether you are most comfortable onstage or in the audience, whether you would have stepped into a studio to take a class or not, this is a virtual opportunity to stand up from your screen and move in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Masterclasses with visiting dance companies and artists are a longstanding tradition at the Annenberg Center. Penn and other university students from around Philadelphia have the opportunity to spend quality time in our dance studio with some of the best of the best several times each season. So, this August, during a time when our mainstage would usually be dark and the dancers would usually be at summer dance festivals or intensives, we seized the chance to adapt this into a virtual format. Read more...

5 Questions with Dorothy Wilkie

Posted August 25, 2020

Dance World Music

We continue our series asking five questions to discover more about Annenberg Center artists and others whom we find interesting. Today, we learn about Dorothy Wilkie, dancer, choreographer and Artistic Director of Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble. With her expansive knowledge of Afro-Cuban and West African dance, Wilkie has led Kulu Mele for over thirty years and, most recently, created the full-length work Ogun & the People as part of the company’s 50th anniversary celebration. As an Annenberg Center commissioned work, we were thrilled to have Kulu Mele grace our stage for the first time in 2019 with this world premiere. Read on to learn more about Dorothy Wilkie.

What first got you into dance? 

I always loved to dance as a child and at family gatherings, people always used to call me to dance to certain music. And that’s where it started. Coming up in school, there were Friday lunchtime dances and Friday after-school dances that I never missed. And with live music! People put rhythm and blues to Latin. We were dancing to mambo and cha cha. Slopping and bopping and stranding. Wilk (John Wilkie) and I were known to be dancers. People would make a circle and watch us. Read more...

David Parsons/Parsons Dance: A tour-de-force

Posted August 24, 2020

Dance Special Features

Parsons Dance performing Nascimento
“One of the great movers of modern dance” (The New York Times), David Parsons has had a remarkable career spent innovating and developing the physical prowess and technical skill in modern dance. Having spent his early years training as a gymnast and wrestler, Parsons’ athletic talents had already risen to the surface. His mother enrolled him in summer dance classes at age nine and by age 17, he was on his way to New York City to study at The Ailey School, where he had been awarded a scholarship. In New York, Parsons apprenticed with celebrated dancer/choreographer Paul Taylor before joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company as a principal dancer. He went on to become a guest artist with the New York City Ballet, spending his summers touring with MOMIX and performing for Mark Morris and Mikhail Baryshnikov in the early White Oak Dance Project tours. Following in the steps of Taylor, whom he considered his mentor, he founded Parsons Dance in 1985 with Howell Binkley, a Tony Award winner for his lighting designs in Jersey Boys (2006) and Hamilton (2016). Read more...

Reflection: Jazz as protest music

Posted August 19, 2020


Max Roach's We Insist! addressed political and racial issues during the 1960s.
From the beginning, jazz – rooted in slave songs and the blues, born in New Orleans in the early twentieth century, and coming of age during the Harlem Renaissance – has been at the nexus of musical expression and social justice. Wynton Marsalis says jazz is “unbelievably democratic” and jazz historian and critic Stanley Crouch wrote, “jazz predicted the civil rights movement more than any other art form.”

As early as the 1920s, jazz musicians were using their music to call attention to discrimination. In his 1929 recording of Fats Waller’s tune, “(What Did I Do To Be So) Black and Blue,” Louis Armstrong altered the lyrics to emphasize the notion of racial prejudice. Ten years later, Billie Holiday recorded Abel Meeropol’s “Strange Fruit,” a song written in response to the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Indiana. TIME magazine named it the best song of the century in 1999. Read more...

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