In the News

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts announces 12/13 season

April 27, 2012

(Philadelphia, April 27, 2011)—The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce its vibrant roster of world-renowned stars and fresh, emerging talent for the 12/13 season. For over 40 years, the Annenberg Center has brought the world’s most exceptional artists to Philadelphia. With its unique setting on the University of Pennsylvania campus and a reputation for presenting the most diverse programming in the city, the Annenberg Center continues to be the perfect place to experience the arts and explore today’s most intriguing issues. The new season also marks the exciting 30th anniversary of Dance Celebration—Philadelphia’s preeminent contemporary dance series.

Featuring eight distinct performance series that showcase unprecedented talent and incredible diversity, the 12/13 season includes over 60 performances plus the Philadelphia International Children’s Festival and runs from September 21, 2012–May 18, 2013. Subscriptions to the 12/13 season are on sale now and can be purchased online by visiting, over the phone by calling 215.898.3900 or by visiting the Annenberg Center Box Office. This season provides an impressive subscription offer—purchase eight shows for the price of six. Single tickets will go on sale on August 27.

“The Annenberg Center is continually committed to creating a diverse and thriving cultural community,” says Annenberg Center Managing Director Dr. Michael Rose. “At our core, we believe in the transformative power that the performing arts has on a community, and we program each season with this expressly in mind.”


Showcasing the Annenberg Center’s unique relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, INSIGHTS events often feature Penn faculty, Penn student performing arts groups, area experts, the artists themselves and even free food. From dance lessons and complimentary food tastings in the lobby to artist chats and discussions with Penn professors, pre- and post-show INSIGHTS events illuminate the work on stage and provide exciting engagement opportunities for audiences. INSIGHTS events highlight many of the Annenberg Center’s performances and are always free for ticket holders. For more information and an up-to-date listing of specific events, visit or call 215.898.3900.

Dance Celebration—Celebrating 30 Years

The 12/13 season is a landmark year for Dance Celebration, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary. With continued dedication to presenting the nation’s finest contemporary dance through commissions, world premieres and innovative programming, Dance Celebration continues to be one of Philadelphia’s cultural gems, lauded for its exceptional artistic stamina. Under the artistic direction of Randy Swartz, Dance Celebration has presented more than 200 stylistically-diverse dance companies in more than 1,500 performances and has reached close to one million people.

From the very beginning, Dance Celebration made a commitment to engage and commission work from a number of core companies including Hubbard Street Dance, River North Dance Chicago, Pilobolus Dance Theatre, MOMIX, Parsons Dance and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Over the years, the resulting works have included Prism by Pilobolus Dance Theatre, the world premiere of Lunar Sea by MOMIX, Klezmerbluegrass by Paul Taylor and The Sweetest Sounds by River North Dance Chicago. Formalized in 2000, this core company commitment continues to include biannual presentations, commissioning of new work, use of live music and special community residencies. To commemorate the 12/13 season, Dance Celebration will commission a new work by River North Dance Chicago.

Dance Celebration has also partnered with the University of the Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in residencies, presentations and educational forums. It has also hosted numerous dance icons including Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Alwin Nikolais, Twyla Tharp and Nacho Duato.

“We are so thrilled to achieve this milestone,” states Artistic Director Randy Swartz. “It has been a commitment to not only present a wide range of dance styles from around the globe but to commission new works, host residencies, be the site of numerous world premieres, provide hundreds of free master classes and provide an educational platform for area school children through daytime performances with study guides. This season, we are delighted to celebrate our rich history with both world-class companies who have become beloved friends and fresh, new companies that point to an invigorating future.”

Dance Celebration is presented by Dance Affiliates and the Annenberg Center.

The 12/13 season includes:

Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, October 11-13

Nominated for Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy® awards, Lar Lubovitch has been cited by the New York Times as “one of the ten best choreographers in the world.” Lubovitch’s tenure at the forefront of contemporary dance has spanned decades, thanks to his “breezy, fluid and engaging” choreographic style (New York Times).

Spellbound Dance Company, November 15-17

Dance Celebration is proud to continue a 30-year tradition of presenting the next great dance company, with the North American debut of Spellbound Dance Company. Boasting an unmistakably exquisite style, this Italian company, known for its highly expressive and dynamic movements, features a combination of class, grace and technique—“the choreography is seductive, the dancers are enchanting” (Diornale di Sardegna).

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, December 13-15

“Part goofy, part glorious, all man” (New York Times), the gender-bending Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, will send audiences on a laugh-out-loud excursion into the world of classical ballet that sends up every artistic conceit, while paying tribute to the choreography of the classics. Performing en pointe, these “mallerinas” revel in buffoonery with perfectly pointed toes and leaps to the heavens, promising an entertaining alternative during the holiday season.

Pilobolus Dance Theatre, January 17-20

“Audiences should expect the unexpected” exclaims NYC Newsday of this Dance Celebration favorite. Whether they are performing for millions at the Olympics, on an Oscar® telecast or live on stage, Pilobolus continues to amuse, innovate and engage with its newest repertoire.

Motionhouse, February 7-9

This English export makes its American debut in the 12/13 season. Dubbed “a fascinating assault on the senses, amazing” (Manchester Evening News), Motionhouse meshes live performance with film, daring to scale bounds and traverse art forms with “a huge dose of choreographic flare, acrobatic flourish, humor, empathy and real life relevance” (Brighton Festival).

Parsons Dance, February 27 & March 1-2

“One of this country’s top contemporary dance troupes” (Tulsa World), Parsons Dance performs works filled to the artistic brim with bouncy, breathtaking and magical choreographic charm.

River North Dance Chicago, April 4-6

This high-energy conglomerate of jazz, ballet and contemporary movement has been lauded as “classic and sophisticated, but with a playful, modern twist” (Naples Daily News). Dance Celebration presents a commissioned world premiere work dedicated to the life and music of Eva Cassidy, an extraordinary artist who died years before her music became cult classics.

Dance Theatre of Harlem, May 16-18

Dance Celebration is thrilled to welcome back this treasure. After a five-year hiatus, this contemporary, boundary-pushing ballet company reinvents itself, with the blessing of founder Arthur Mitchell, and now under the guidance of Virginia Johnson, who was the company’s leading dancer for 20 years. Its first tour will feature new works and Balanchine classics.


Kenny Barron Trio, October 20

Named “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” (Los Angeles Times) and “the most lyrical piano player of our time” (Jazz Weekly), Philadelphia native Kenny Barron brings his elegant delivery of standards and original rhythms on piano to Philadelphia. This nine-time Grammy© nominee and Jazz Hall of Fame inductee will be joined by Kiyoshi Kitagawa on bass and another Philadelphia native, Johnathan Blake, on drums.

Dianne Reeves, Christmas Time is Here, December 1

Four-time Grammy® award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves returns to Philadelphia just in time for the holidays. Featuring jazz renditions of holiday favorites such as “Carol of the Bells” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” this performance kicks off the winter season and showcases the phenomenal “audacity that makes Reeves’ voice an awesome instrument” (People Magazine).

Jane Monheit with Special Guest Mark O’Connor, March 16

Two-time Grammy® nominee Jane Monheit returns with special guest Mark O’Connor in a performance of standards and pop selections from Monheit’s most recent recording, Home. “Endowed with improvisatory skill and a voice of singular plushness” (New York Times), Monheit’s success on the jazz scene has spanned over a decade. She will be joined by Mark O’Connor, the man dubbed “one of the most talented and imaginative artists working in music—any music—today” by the New York Times, whose signature fiddling is a keen hybrid of American bluegrass, jazz, country and classical.


Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project

red, black & GREEN: a blues, September 21-22

One of America's Top Young Innovators by Smithsonian Magazine and the artistic director of the seven-part HBO documentary Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices, Marc Bamuthi Joseph is the creative mind behind this hybrid piece of spoken word/hip hop theatre. Through poetry and performance highlighted by films and murals, red, black & GREEN: a blues presents the idea that nurturing our lives and communities is the first step toward caring for our planet. Audience members are even invited on stage to tour and engage with the living installation constructed of re-purposed materials.

Chimera, January 30-February 2

This stirring solo show, created by Pig Iron Theatre Company alumna Suli Holum with Deborah Stein, is a high-tech, arresting play inspired by a real-life story. Delving into the depths of modern science with theatrical wit and beguiling characterization, Chimera is an exploration of chimerism, the phenomenon of containing two different sets of DNA within one body. “Equal parts funny and smart” (Backstage), this outrageous account dares to ask the question—are we defined by the swirling double helixes that comprise our DNA?

African Roots

Royal Drummers & Dancers of Burundi, October 3

One of the world’s most experienced percussion ensembles, the Royal Drummers & Dancers of Burundi return to the U.S. for the first time since their sold-out 2006 tour. They have performed in the same way for centuries, passing down traditions and techniques from father to son, originally performing exclusively for Burundian kings. Shrouded in ancient legend and mystery, the ensemble channels the energy and creative spirit of a nation, with complex percussive rhythms and agile dance accompaniment.

Acoustic Africa: Afropean Woman, November 10

This mega-meeting of Afropean talent showcases a fusion of Western and African music styles in a “beautiful and fascinating exchange going on between great artists” (Afropop Worldwide)—Dobet Gnahore, the Ivory Coast’s Grammy® award-winning singer and percussionist; Manu Gallo, the acclaimed former bassist for Belgian group Zap Mama, whose own music draws on rhythms of West Africa; and Kareyce Fotso, the young Cameroonian singer who contributes an intriguing combination of Afro-pop and blues. The ensemble is directed by acclaimed guitarist Leni Stern.

Hugh Masekela, April 14

Called “one of the most thrilling live performers around” by Rolling Stone, Grammy® award-winning South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela is a living legend, known for a unique musical blend of his native South African roots with the pop-jazz of the 60s. With a 40-year career under his belt, this “man with the horn” returns to the Annenberg Center, back by popular demand, for a special, one-night-only engagement featuring old favorites and works from his newest album, Jabulani.

Asian Roots

Rama Vaidyanathan, November 3

A gem in her native India, Rama Vaidyanathan is one of the world’s leading interpreters of Bharata Natyam, the great classical dance form of southern India that’s characterized by complex footwork, abstract movements and elaborate mime. With a distinct style that melds tradition and her 20 years of expertise, she is renowned as the “thinking dancer.” With every stamp, turn and pose, Vaidyanathan, accompanied by live musicians, will enthrall with “fire power and ebullience, athleticism and rhythmic prowess” (The Hindu, Delhi). Vaidyanathan is presented in partnership with SRUTI—the India Music & Dance Society of Philadelphia.

Red Baraat, January 26

“A fiery blend of raucous Indian bhangra and funky New Orleans brass” (Village Voice), Red Baraat’s high-energy, non-stop musical revelry is equal parts concert and party. Performing new tracks from their 2012 release, Shruggy Ji, and some of their past critically-lauded hits, this nine-piece dhol ‘n’ brass powerhouse travels to Philadelphia to treat audiences to a Brooklyn-inspired, Asian-influenced sound.

Irish Roots

FullSet, October 6

Hot, fresh and bursting with dynamism, the on-the-rise FullSet has been likened to Irish super groups such as Danú and Altan. Irish Music Magazine exclaims, “the blazing energy they possess is matched with confident instrumental skill and imaginative outcome.” This six-member ensemble ranging from fiddles to uilleann pipes to vocals was recently dubbed “New Group of the Year" at the 2012 Live Ireland Music Awards and "Best New Band” at the Irish American News Music Awards.

Cherish the Ladies, Celtic Christmas, December 16

“Brimming with spirit, precision, wit and soul” (Washington Post), Cherish the Ladies returns to the Annenberg Center to ring in the holidays with instrumental talent, beautiful vocals and stunning step dancing. This all-female Irish ensemble, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, puts their signature mark on classic Christmas carols such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Silent Night” in a one-night-only performance.

Natalie MacMaster, March 15

Internationally-renowned fiddler Natalie MacMaster takes the stage for St. Patrick’s Day weekend with a verve and audacity that whips audiences into a toe-tapping uproar. Her signature sound has spanned across the globe over the course of 27 years and 10 albums. She returns to the Annenberg Center by popular demand to perform favorites from her most recent release, Cape Breton Girl.

Latin Roots

Miguel Zenón, February 16

A Latin jazz saxophonist with the gusto to “create music that is full of life, history, richness, and realness” (All Music Guide), Miguel Zenón, recently honored with the MacArthur Foundation's prestigious Genius Award, possesses a progressive sound that plumbs the depths of Latin music—particularly the roots of his own heritage in Puerto Rico. His recent album, Alma Adentro: The Puerto Rican Songbook, was selected as #1 Best Jazz Album of 2011 by NPR, placed in New York Times critic Nate Chinen's 2011 top ten albums list and was nominated for a Grammy®.

Lila Downs, April 28

For over a decade, this Oaxaca-born singer has dipped into traditional Mexican music and fused it with blues, jazz, soul and other Latin roots. With performances at prestigious venues and events such as Carnegie Hall and the Latino Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama plus a Latin Grammy® and Grammy® nomination, Downs’ sound is simultaneously powerful, yet sumptuous and graceful—born and delivered from a kitschy melting pot. Downs’ voice, backed by classic Mexican rhythms, jazzy sax tones and electric guitar riffs, is “nothing if not crowd-pleasing and jubilant in her delivery” (Huffington Post).

By Local

The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts continues its dedication to local Philadelphia artists during the 12/13 By Local Series. Curated by the Annenberg Center’s Director of Operations & Special Artistic Projects, Madison Cario, the series showcases both emerging and established Philadelphia talent.

The Berserker Residents

The Giant Squid, September 28-29

Wacky and off-beat, Philadelphia’s own The Berserker Residents are known for their fantastical bouts of comedic genius where witty story-telling meets props and costumes that “extract maximal laughter from every sound cue and sequin” (New York Times). In the pop-comic aesthetic for which they have garnered mass acclaim, the ensemble presents The Giant Squid, a science lecture gone awry that travels to the depths of the sea with the demented crew of a ragged whaling ship as they encounter a marine terror.

Voice of this Generation/Network for New Music, October 12

Called "Philadelphia's premiere new music organization" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Network for New Music revels in the dialogue and delight that comes from discovering music that is unexpected, created by composers who live in today’s world. In partnership with Voice of this Generation, an organization eagerly turning standard notions of the classical genre on its head, these two groups present Philadelphia’s contemporary sound. Audiences will enjoy a night that throws out the norms of the older classical music institutions and experience the young Philadelphia composers that are re-inventing the concert experience with fresh new works and musical experimentation.

Tribe of Fools

Heavy Metal Dance Fag, December 14-15

A “fascinating young physical theatre company with a bright future” (Philadelphia Weekly), Tribe of Fools brings its signature physical dramatics to the Annenberg Center with its 2011 Philly Fringe success, Heavy Metal Dance Fag. The full-length piece chronicles a tough, blue collar, South Philly dockworker with a secret passion for tap-dancing to 1980s hair metal. An outrageous comedy about identity, repression and the complications of both love and dancing in South Philly, Heavy Metal Dance Fag is Billy Elliot meets Good Will Hunting meets Jersey Shore.

Applied Mechanics, February 8-9

Founded by director Rebecca Wright and designer Maria Shaplin, Philadelphia’s Applied Mechanics works in its own brand of promenade style theatre, in which many scenes happen simultaneously and audience members are free to wander around in a choose-your-own-adventure play format. Exploring the relationships between bodies and space and always challenging conventional theatrical ideas, Applied Mechanics’ deftly performed works are “meaty and curious—as close to a piece of installation art as theater gets” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Philadelphia International Children’s Festival

The 29th annual Philadelphia International Children’s Festival will be May 2–4, 2013 and will feature family-friendly music, dance and theatre performances including Freckleface The Musical, based on the beloved New York Times best-selling book by celebrated actress Julianne Moore and hailed as “one of the seven best shows to see in NYC” by CBS.