Annenberg Center dances with joy

Dance Celebration

Jennifer Girard

River North Dance Chicago performs from April 4-6 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

The Dance Celebration series at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a season of performances aimed to suit a wide variety of tastes.

Featuring dance styles that include ballet, modern, and ethnic dance, the performance series will also include occasional opportunities for audience members to talk to the artists.

The contemporary dance company Pilobolus will bring its creative, amusing, and physically challenging dance routines to campus from Jan. 17-20. Perhaps best known for performing at the Academy Awards and at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Pilobolus has become famous for creating visual illusions using the human body.

Following the Friday evening performance on Jan. 18, audience members will get the opportunity to learn more about the dance troupe at a post-show talk back with the dancers, the director, and the choreographer.

“This is where people can have a conversation, ask questions about the process, about the program they just saw,” says Randy Swartz, Dance Celebration’s artistic director. “They can ask about how [directors] pick dancers, or anything else they want to know, so they understand what it takes to get these shows together.”

Many of the dance companies performing in the series, which runs through May, integrate dance with other forms of artistic expression. The group Motionhouse, which performs at the Annenberg Center in February, incorporates video into its dance performances.

“In the pieces [in which] they’re talking about water, you see them traversing through water and climbing ice mountains, going down rivers with their bodies against this film backdrop,” explains Sarah Fergus, marketing and communications manager at the Annenberg Center. 

From Feb. 27 to March 2, the contemporary Parsons Dance group will perform in the Annenberg Center’s Zellerbach Theatre.


Joseph Rodman

The Dance Theatre of Harlem performs from May 16-18 in the Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theatre.

In addition to bringing dance companies to perform in Philadelphia, Dance Celebration also commissions original works that unite dance with other disciplines. For the series’ 30th anniversary, Dance Celebration commissioned a world premiere piece called “Eva” from River North Dance Chicago, dedicated to the life and music of Eva Cassidy. Cassidy’s music became popular after she died of melanoma when she was in her 30s. To raise awareness, the Annenberg Center has partnered with the Abramson Cancer Center to offer skin cancer screenings in the lobby at all four shows, running April 4-6.  

The dance series wraps up in May with the Dance Theatre of Harlem performing new works, as well as a Balanchine classic.

Penn students, faculty, and staff can receive a 10 percent discount on admission to all shows with a PennCard, or by entering the promo code “Penn” when ordering tickets online.

For more information, visit the Annenberg Center website.

Originally published on January 10, 2013