Dance takes center stage at the 2011 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival

Photo: Koen Broos

From September 2 – 17, the annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival will celebrate its 15th Festival year with 16-days of nonstop groundbreaking performances and wild creativity. The Festival features cutting-edge dance, theater, music, and interdisciplinary works by renowned artists from the U.S. and international contemporary arts scene. A platform for daring, innovative, and highly interdisciplinary artists, the 2011 lineup emphasizes the Festival’s continued commitment to the development of new work with 9 World premieres, while also bringing leaders of the contemporary art world to Philadelphia stages with 3 U.S. and 3 Philadelphia premieres.

Alongside artists from Philadelphia and New York, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival will host internationally acclaimed artists from Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, India, and France, making the city an unparalleled place to experience great art from the region and around the world.

“The centerpiece of this year’s Festival is a series celebrating intercultural practice, as different worlds and dance traditions meet on the contemporary stage,” says Producing Artistic Director Nick Stuccio. “The series features the work of Shantala Shivalingappa and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, two dancers not often presented in the U.S. Our programming offers audiences the opportunity to experience the only U.S. engagement of their high-spirited performance Play, alongside the Philadelphia premiere of Namasya which features solo works choreographed expressly for Shivalingappa by dance titans Pina Bausch and Ushio Amagatsu, among others.”

This series features the U.S. premiere of Play, a duet commissioned by Live Arts, created and performed by Shivalingappa and Cherkaoui, the Philadelphia premiere of Shivalingappa’s contemporary solo Namasya, the multimedia dance-inspired art installation Zon-Mai, and a selection of related film screenings, workshops, and symposia.

Born in Chennai, India and raised in Paris, Shantala Shivalingappa is the child of east and west and a master of Kuchipudi, a classical dance form of South India. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui was born in Antwerp, Belgium of a Moroccan father and Flemish mother. The late, great German choreographer Pina Bausch suggested that the two work together. Play is an intercultural dance dialogue, a celebration of aesthetic and form. The performance features a live ensemble and interaction with musicians and other theatrical elements, as Shivalingappa and Larbi discover one another by playing through dance.

Namasya, Sanskrit for “reverence” or “to pay homage”, will showcase Shantala Shivalingappa in a solo in four parts, with pieces choreographed by Pina Bausch, Ushio Amagatsu, Shivalingappa and the dancer’s mother, the acclaimed choreographer Savitry Nair. Namasya is presented in association with the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts where Shivalingappa will perform a traditional Kuchipudi piece in the Fall.

Zon-Mai, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival’s first-ever large-scale visual art presentation is an installation in motion by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Gilles Delmas. Zon-Mai will be erected during the Festival in a Philadelphia warehouse. At the crossroads between architecture, art, and dance, Zon-Mai – which translates to “at home, elsewhere” – is a giant house of screens featuring projections of 21 dancers performing inside their own bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms around the world.

Acclaimed American choreographer John Jasperse will offer the World premiere of the new evening length work Canyon, currently in development.

The site-specific Red Rovers by the imaginative Philadelphia-based Headlong Dance Theater (More, ‘09; Cell, ‘07; Hotel Pool, ‘04), in collaboration with visual artist Chris Doyle, explores the lives of robots on Mars and the scientists who created them. In the participatory performance, the audience will interact with scientists of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Radio Show, a Philadelphia premiere, by New York-based choreographer Kyle Abraham is a dance narrative investigating the effects of the abrupt discontinuation of a black radio station on a community and the lingering impact of Alzheimer’s and aphasia on a family. Performed by Abraham.In.Motion, the 2010 Bessie Award-winning dance evokes memory and a passion for what is lost, mixing an eclectic score of classical soul and hip-hop with contemporary classical compositions. The Radio Show is presented in association with the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Together, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe draw tens of thousands of people who come to be a part of “Festival time” in the city – to see innovative work, meet new people, and interact with over 2,000 artists performing in over 1,200 performances. Founded in 1997 as the Philly Fringe, the Festival, now in its 15th year, has developed into an internationally recognized presenting organization and performing arts destination, garnering critical praise, national grants, and numerous awards.

Tickets to the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe are on sale now at

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