Awakening Spring at Shofuso

by Juan C. Irizarry for The Dance Journal

Today, Philadelphia Dance Photo Project traveled to the heart of the city, Fairmount Park, with Philadelphia dancer, Liz Greene.  We kick start our Spring season at one of the most beautiful and probably least known locations in the region, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. Our photo shoot had particular significance for Liz because of her own heritage as her grandmother is Japanese. In discussing this opportunity, she told me she wanted to use this session to honor her grandmother.


Shofuso was first established as a Japanese-style landscape for the 1876 Centennial Exposition. The current garden was designed by Sano Tansai in 1958 when the authentic shoin-style Japanese house was moved here from New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For Philadelphia’s 1976 Bicentennial celebration, the garden was extensively renovated by Nakajima Kenji in the authentic Momoyama style of early 17th-century Japan.

Shofuso was named the third-ranked Japanese garden in North America by the Journal of Japanese Gardening in 2013. It was listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2013 and has been a contributing structure to the Fairmount Park National Historic District since 1972.

When one visits Shofuso you experience a sense of inner peace, balance and communion with nature. Shofuso provides cultural education opportunities and schedules public and private Tea Ceremonies as well as traditional Japanese dance classes and demonstrations.

Liz Greene
Elizabeth (Liz) Greene is a 2006 graduate from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She received a bachelor of fine arts in dance education with a focus in modern dance. During her enrollment at UARTS Elizabeth was also dancing professionally with the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders. Throughout the 2003-2006 seasons she experienced many wonderful opportunities including performances in Superbowl 39 in Jacksonville, FL, The Chinese New Year Parade in Hong Kong, China, an introduction in the video game Madden 2006, and a captain position for her third and final season. After graduation Elizabeth resigned from her position with the NFL but continued to work with Eagles Cheerleader choreographer Suzy Zucker for three more years to follow. She was a guest performer and featured soloist with Suzy’s Garden State Dance Festival. Elizabeth then became a company dancer with Alchemy Dance Company in Philadelphia. She was a featured soloist in the company’s debut performance of ‘Rite of Passage’. Elizabeth is currently employed as a dance instructor and choreographer teaching various subjects at Kicks Academy of Dance. Each summer for the past four years Elizabeth is employed as the dance teacher for Camp Wilma at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, PA under the direction of education director Anne Holmes. She has previously been involved as a dance instructor with ITDI, Mainstage Dance Theater in Sewell, NJ and Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ. Elizabeth’s choreography has received regional and national recognition with New York City Dance Alliance and The Dancer’s Federation. During the 2012-’13 competition season National Dance Showcase rewarded her top choreography recognition and at Ticket to Broadway. Elizabeth accepted a choreography award. Since 2010 she has choreographed for Woodland Stringband for the Philadelphia Mummers New Year’s Day Parade. Woodland received 1st place in 2012. Elizabeth has most recently found an interest in working withphotographers. Most recently she has shot with Juan Irizarry of Philadelphia Dance Photo Project and Michael Ash Smith of Ash Imagery. Elizabeth will soon be featured in a segment on the show ‘So You Think You Could Dance’ during season 11’s Philadelphia audition. Liz is proud of her dance story and continues to thrive in her athleticism and artistry.

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Juan C. Irizarry
Juan Irizarry is a Philadelphia based photographer, founder of the Philadelphia Dance Photo Project. Juan seeks to showcase the city’s beautiful architecture, important history and diverse people through photographs that incorporate the vibrant and growing Philadelphia dance community. The Philadelphia Dance Photo Project has not been limited to just ballet, but seeks to capture all genres of dance.  Juan became a professional photographer in 2007, he has served as president of local camera club’s, taught workshops on the basics of photography and won several international photography contests. Additionally he has a successful career as an IT professional specializing in database administration spanning more than 2 decades.