Dance to take center stage at Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA)

The upcoming Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) will hold the spotlight for three and a half weeks this spring (April 7 to May 1) boasting a slate of unprecedented dance programming—from the rare pairing of the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra to a world premiere by renowned hip-hop phenom, Rennie Harris to a commission of a ballet world premiere by Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millipied, to a vast collection of crafty and collaborative premieres from the city’s most creative choreographic talent—sure to please dance lovers and novices alike.

PIFA, inspired by the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia’s acclaimed performing arts center, is the city and region’s first major international arts festival, celebrating the spirit of collaboration and innovation that characterized Paris from 1910 to 1920, a center of tremendous creativity at that time, that ultimately shaped how we defined the arts throughout the 20th century. Featuring a feast of music, fashion, fine arts, outdoor events, theater, literature, cuisine and more, in addition to dance, the festival will celebrate Philadelphia’s rich and vibrant cultural community. More than 140 of the region’s arts organizations have joined forces to produce over 30 commissioned works, offer an enticing mix of collaborative programs and feature a roster of international artists from Paris and beyond.

Melding of mediums, mashing up of music and merging of powerhouse arts organizations—all under the umbrella of the festival’s Parisian theme—are the defining and driving factors behind this all-new repertoire of Philadelphia dance, including late-night cabarets, circus arts, beloved ballets and innovative contemporary performances.

“We are thrilled to have such an intriguing range of dance programming on tap for the festival,” states PIFA Artistic Producer Barbara Silverstein. “Vibrant and brimming with talent and creativity, Philadelphia’s dance community is thriving. It has been sheer delight to work with these companies and to watch their collaborations blossom.”

Here are our picks and recommendations for the festival. Tickets are on sale now, so don’t delay!

Rennie Harris Puremovement

April 15-17, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street

Rennie Harris Puremovement, the world-renowned dance company founded by hip-hop ambassador Rennie Harris, presents the most intricate work of his choreographic career. Harris has created a new work inspired by Stravinsky’s masterpiece Rite of Spring, rethinking how shared cultural vocabularies in dance and music cross generations and cultural divides. Complete with 15 dancers, Japanese motifs, and multimedia anime that includes an innovatively designed lighting installation and live music, Heaven reflects on the emergence and popularization of hip-hop dance.

MonTage à Trois
Jeanne Ruddy Dance; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

April 15-17, Hamilton Building, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 118-128 N. Broad Street

Jeanne Ruddy Dance offers a world premiere collaborative work, MonTage à Trois, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The work will incorporate the paintings of renowned Philadelphia artist Elizabeth Osborne and choreography by Jeanne Ruddy. This full length site-specific piece will be performed at the Annenberg Galleries on the second floor of the Hamilton Building and is set to the music of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, with multi-media video design by composer/videographer Ellen Fishman-Johnson.

Symphony in White: A Portrait of Peace
180 Dance Company
April 16, Moore College of Art and Design, Stewart Auditorium, 20th Street and The Parkway
Symphony in White: A Portrait of Peace
is a multi-sensory performance piece based on the themes displayed in the painting Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl by James McNeill Whistler. Set to Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, 180 Dance Company and Moore College of Art & Design will unite to show how diversity can create harmony as they blend dance, fashion design, and fine art in a performance of peace that emphasizes message over medium.

Proliferation of the Imagination
The Wilma Theater and BalletX

April 12-24, The Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad Street

The Wilma Theater and BalletX will create Proliferation of the Imagination, a new collaborative piece inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire’s The Mammaries of Tiresias. The piece reinterprets Apollinaire’s groundbreaking surrealist theater through an interdisciplinary, multimedia work incorporating ballet choreographed by Matthew Neenan, spoken text, video, and original music.

Rite of Passage
Alchemy Dance Company

April 15-17, The Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street
Rite of Passage
takes a look back at the riotous audience reception at the premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and how it relates to our present concepts of society, reality, and the human spirit. This new dance theater work will feature original music by local Philadelphia Composer Jonathan Bowles and contemporary choreography designed by Artistic Director Amy Harding in collaboration with the ADC dancers. This show will also include an expanded version of Alchemy’s “Sideshow Noir,” a dance theater experience that combines contemporary choreography with jazz and b-boy movement styles.

Pulcinella Alive!
Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra

April 7 – 10, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts opens with an eagerly anticipated collaboration between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pennsylvania Ballet. In his first stint with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Finnish native and Boston Ballet resident choreographer Jorma Elo creates a new ballet to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, to be performed live onstage by the Orchestra and Pennsylvania Ballet. Rossen Milanov, the Orchestra’s Bulgarian-born associate conductor, conducts.

Miro Dance Theatre
April 21-23, Innovation Studio, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
a re-imagining of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, will be Miro Dance Theatre’s most ambitious work to date. Its creation is inspired by the interdisciplinary work of the Ballets Russes in the early 20th century and will feature a new score commissioned from composer Zeena Parkins, with choreography by Amanda Miller and video design by Tobin Rothlein.

Building on Balanchine
Pennsylvania Ballet

April 14-17,
Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street
Pennsylvania Ballet honors its Balanchine heritage with two works from the master choreographer: Agon, an organic collaboration between George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky, who together designed the structure of this ballet during the creation of the music and Who Cares?, bringing Broadway to the ballet. The Company looks to its future with a world premiere ballet from renowned French-born choreographer Benjamin Millepied rounding out the program. Currently a Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet, Millepied draws inspiration and a fresh perspective from his mentor and Balanchine colleague, famed choreographer Jerome Robbins.

How Philly Moves
Philadelphia Mural Arts

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

A digital projection mural collaboratively commissioned by PIFA and the internationally-renowned Mural Arts Program will grace the façade of the Kimmel Center. This constantly-changing mural created by JJ Tiziou will feature photos and videos of dancing Philadelphians from his How Philly Moves project.  The Kimmel Center’s mural is a sister to the Mural Arts Program’s 50,000 square foot painted mural composed of JJ’s iconic photos, coming to Philadelphia International Airport in June 2011.

Un Soiree au Cabaret
Sharp Dance Company

April 29-May 1, the fidget space,
1714 North Masher Street
SHARP Dance Company revives the sultry days of the cabaret complete with a Master of Ceremonies leading a night of dance, live vocals, digital projection and art. Un Soiree au Cabaret investigates the gravitational support each person is able to call upon in life. Sexy and thought provoking, Un Soiree embodies SHARP’s espoused conception that dance should be more than a performance, it should be an experience. With that in mind, SHARP aims to dazzle PIFA’s late-night crowd with pastiche, parody and wit.

Chandroutie-A Voyage beyond Kala Pani
Usiloquy Dance

May 1,
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street
Chandroutie traces the history and culture of the indentured immigrants of East Indian origin who traveled to the Caribbean countries of Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname from 1838 to 1914.  The work weaves their music and cultural traditions into an evening-length dance and multimedia production. Just as Paris incubated a melding of diverse artistic energies in the early 20th century, Chandroutie celebrates the fact that art thrives in the most diverse of environments, fusing Bharatanatyam with Indo-Caribbean music.

The full slate of PIFA dance programming as well as complete schedule of events can be accessed via and at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Tickets to individual performances and events can be purchased on the PIFA website, in person at the Kimmel Center Box Office, or by phone at 215-546-PIFA. Tickets prices are set by individual presenting organizations, ranging from FREE to the public to $125. For the most up to date information, visit or contact PIFA at (215) 546-PIFA.

About PIFA
The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), inspired by the Kimmel Center, launches the city’s art and cultural scene onto the world stage with a three-week festival offering performances, exhibits and events for loyal fans and casual attendees. Based on the philosophy of collaboration, innovation and creativity, PIFA’s programs represent every arts discipline and include more than 100 partners. Offerings include newly commissioned works, classical performances and exhibits, surprising partnerships featuring local and international artists, and exciting explorations of traditional, non-traditional, new and emerging art forms. PIFA 2011, an homage to the artistic energy of Paris 1910-1920, celebrates works from that era and new creations inspired by the brashly innovative spirit of the period. The festival was made possible by an extraordinary grant from Philadelphia philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, whose vision for a city-wide celebration of the arts shaped its philosophy and programming. PIFA takes place April 7-May 1, 2011.

About Kimmel Center, Inc.
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts manages, supports, and maintains Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater, Innovation Studio, Merriam Theater and the Academy of Music. The mission of the organization is to operate a world-class performing arts center that engages and entertains patrons from throughout the Greater Philadelphia region with a wide variety of spectacular programming.  The Kimmel Center Presents 2010/2011 season is sponsored by Citi and includes a diverse line-up of pop and classical musicians, comedy stars, creative dance troupes, and ground-breaking theater.  For additional information, visit

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