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15 days, 60+ performances, 1 amazing international celebration of the arts right here in Philadelphia. #PIFA2016. List of events here 




APRIL 8 – 23, 2016


World-Class Festival Showcases Groundbreaking Work from

 International Artists and Local Partners for a Curated Exploration of the

Performing and Visual Arts

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 19, 2015) – The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts announces the return of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), taking place across the venues of the Kimmel Center’s campus, as well as select locations throughout the city, from April 8 through April 23, 2016. A 15-day celebration of art and community, PIFA showcases innovation and a breadth of local and international performances and installations, all curated by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. With more than 60 events across genres and art forms, PIFA is bookended by the Article 13 – a grand-scale fire and sand installation that tells the story of immigrants around the world – which serves as the grand opening of the Festival and culminates with the celebrated PIFA Street Fair.

In this third installment of PIFA, the curatorial vision illustrates the concept “We Are What We Make.” The Festival will explore how our humanity is shaped, changed, inspired, and challenged by the world we create, all displayed through a variety of performing and visual arts. A massive installation by Mimi Lien – recipient of a 2015 MacArthur Genius Award – will consume the lobby of the Kimmel Center, bringing this vision to life and will be on display throughout the Festival.

“We are thrilled to once again produce PIFA, the perfect manifestation of The Kimmel Center’s mission to introduce broad and diverse audiences to world-class, ground-breaking programming,” said Kimmel Center President and CEO, Anne Ewers. “To see our local arts organizations coming together in collaboration with one another, as well as with the renowned international artists joining us from around the world, is sure to be an extraordinary experience for the hundreds of thousands touched by PIFA.”

In addition to the featured international artists, local partners have joined forces with the Kimmel Center to present new works during this year’s Festival, further solidifying Philadelphia’s position as a pioneering force in the performing arts landscape. Local partners include The Barnes Foundation, The Clay Studio, The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Curtis Institute of Music, Jazz Bridge, Mural Arts Program, and PHILADANCO (The Philadelphia Dance Company). More local partners will be announced at a later date.

“‘We Are What We Make’ is the unifying thread and audiences will see it represented in countless ways through the art they’ll experience this year,” said Kimmel Center Artistic Director Jay Wahl. “The works were meant to challenge not only the artists but those who appreciate art to look deeper and get something unique from this experience, which will last long after the Festival is over.”



Multi-event ticket packages are available now and include the PIFA Sampler Pass (three shows), PIFA Immersion Pass (five shows), or the PIFA All-Access Pass; all come with a wide range of added benefits including access to exclusive events. Single tickets for PIFA events will go on sale to the public beginning December 7, 2015. Tickets can be purchased by visiting or calling 215-893-1999.

Full event details can be found below and a calendar of events is available at



Article 13 (American Premiere)

Carabosse Company & Teatro Linea de Sombra

Location TBA

April 8, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

April 9, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

April 10, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

Equal parts installation, spectacle, and documentary, Article 13 is a large-scale story made out of small stories in a constant state of evolution, based on current events related to immigration. A collaboration between Compagnie Carabosse (France) & Teatro Linea de Sombra (Mexico), Article 13 is a memorial to the thousands of migrants who have disappeared, and at the same time it gives back human face, flesh, and identity to the anonymous ones lost in search of a better world. Visitors interact and wander through the labyrinth of fire and sound in this artistic exploration of borders and exodus.  

The memorial, made of sand and fire, personifies the scope of the phenomenon of immigration through the non-traditional presentation of statistical data, economic evidence, geopolitical aspects, the forms of those who have disappeared, and how things relate to each other.

Along this path of inhabited installation, audiences are touched by words, snatches of conversation, and accounts given by migrants; providing seemingly lost perspective that these people — before they were statistics, or a number of ‘disappeared’ in the media, or even dangerous suspects — before all else, are human beings.

This will be the American Premiere of Article 13.



(more events and program details to be announced at a later date)

String Theory: Exploring The Nature, Craft and Soul of Musical Instruments

Philadelphia Chamber Music Society

Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 8, 2016, 6:15 p.m.

April 13, 2016, 6:15 p.m.

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society presents a two-part panel discussion which delves into the material culture of music, set on the backdrop of two chamber music concerts at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. String Theory explores the relationship between the things we create and their identity as independent artistic enablers.

The Friday, April 8th discussion will be between Samuel Zygmuntowicz, renowned instrument-maker in New York City, and Will Straw, Professor of Communications in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University (Montreal). They will examine the constantly-evolving art of violin-making and the unique voice each instrument holds in its design. This illuminating discussion will be followed by Christian Tetzlaff’s solo violin recital, featuring works by Ysaÿe, Bach, Kurtág, and Bartók.

On Wednesday, April 13th, Allen Roda, Professor of Music at New York University and enthomusicology expert, Yumi Kendall, Assistant Principal Cellist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Nick Kendall, the violinist from the popular cross-over group Time for Three, will discuss the identity of instruments as autonomous and dynamic agents, and the part they play in the interpretation of music.  This will be followed by a concert with the Takács Quartet and pianist Garrick Ohlsson, in a program of works by Beethoven, Webern, and Elgar.


Knitting Peace (American Premiere)

Cirkus Cirkör

Merriam Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 8, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 9, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 10, 2016, 2:00 p.m.

Swedish circus troupe, Cirkus Cirkör, brings the American Premiere of Knitting Peace to PIFA 2016 in pursuit of an answer to one question: “Is it possible to knit peace?” In this contemporary circus performance, daring trapeze artists soar in graceful poses set to live music as they interact with elaborately woven and strangely entangled knitted structures and props. While touring, the work encourages local communities to contribute to the Knitting Peace movement in individual, site-specific ways.

In the performance, audiences will share in the experience of five circus artists and one musician, surrounded by a striking set design of white monumental knittings, big tangles, and enormous balls of yarn. The artists are all interacting with the material on stage and their disciplines all have some connection with white ropes, lines of string, and more. Inspired by the craft of knitting, approximately 75% of the set design is made of a thick cotton yarn made from waste product from the tricot fabric industry.

Cirkus Cirkör believes in engaging the audience and making them believe that the impossible is possible, raising the bar when they achieve it. The marriage between knitting and circus is unusual but there is an equal passion between those who practice either.

This will be the American Premiere of Knitting Peace.


Paper Planet (Philadelphia Premiere)

Polyglot Theatre

Hamilton Garden at the Kimmel Center

April 9, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 10, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 13, 2016, School groups as scheduled

April 14, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 15, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 16, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 17, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 20, 2016, School groups as scheduled

April 21, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.

April 23, 2016, 10:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 2:00 p.m.

Australian-based theater company Polyglot Theatre brings its renowned Paper Planet to PIFA, transporting adults and children alike into a magical space full of creative invention. Paper Planet is a spectacular forest of tall cardboard trees inviting kids and adults to fill the world with fantastic paper creations. Each of the individual pieces that form the complete work are interactive engagements that draw upon the imagination and action of children and families to play, explore, invent, and encounter through touch, action, and drama. Each experience has at its core the belief that children must be given open-ended opportunities that allow them freedom, agency, and a space to engage imaginatively without mediation. This program is intended for children ages 3 to 8.

This will be the Philadelphia Premiere of Paper Planet.


Rivers of Sound (Philadelphia Premiere)

Amir ElSaffar

Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 9, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Straight off a standing-room-only premiere at Lincoln Center, Rivers of Sound by Amir El Saffar features a 17-musician ensemble featuring traditional instruments from across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, including the oud (lute), qanun (plucked zither), santur (hammered-dulcimer), nay (reed flute), as well as Western instruments, such as saxophone, trumpet, drum set, bass, retuned piano, vibraphone, guitar, and vocalists from corresponding traditions. Rivers of Sound consists of composed melodies, forms, and rhythmic formulas, but is performed in an improvisational fashion, fostering variations on the musical material and spontaneous interaction between musicians. The large ensemble’s combination of instruments, each with distinct timbral properties, allows for the emergence of new sonic textures and nuanced interaction between musicians, completely unique to each performance. Individual sounds disappear into the larger sound of the whole ensemble, forming a collective, "human" voice.

In the framework of a large ensemble of improvising musicians, this opens new channels for spontaneous communication based entirely on the music and sound rather than the rules or idiosyncrasies of a given genre. Melodies are not confined to the single-tonic system of the Middle East, nor are they bound by equal temperament. By freeing the pitches from fixed positions, traditional constructs/constraints/functions are allowed to fall away. As pitches become fluid, so do cultural boundaries, de-emphasizing elements that traditionally divide musicians from different backgrounds such as ethnically-specific modes or scales.

Audiences will experience a 75-minute performance that is highly dynamic and varied, with dense, ecstatic climaxes contrasted by meditative solo passages, tightly interlocking rhythms followed by unmetered melismatic lines, previously unheard harmonies and rich sonorities created by the unique combination of instruments, and a wide range of musical styles and philosophies interacting with one another. In some cases, the sounds blend together in consonant accord, and at other times they form tension and dissonance.

This will be the Philadelphia Premiere of Rivers of Sound.


Vision Song: Our Hearts, Our Voices, Our Future (World Premiere)

Jazz Bridge

SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center

April 9, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 10, 2016, 2:00 p.m.

Jazz Bridge, in collaboration with Pew Fellow, jazz composer/bandleader/saxophonist Bobby Zankel, will present a new work for Zankel’s band, Warriors of the Wonderful Sound. The work has been inspired by the thoughts, feelings, and dreams of what middle-school-aged children (12-14 year-olds) believe the world will be like — ecologically, technologically, socially — when they are adults.

Vision Song was inspired by a conversation Dr. Suzanne Cloud, Executive Director of Jazz Bridge, had with her 12-year-old grandson as they were stuck in traffic. She asked him what he thought the world would be like in the future, and if he could make a film about it, what would be in the film? He said he'd start off with a picture of the planet, but he'd make it all brown. She asked him why, and he said, "because it probably won't be very nice when I grow up.” This response was the impetus for creating a piece that would help audiences understand how and what this younger generation is thinking and feeling about the future and the decisions being made about the environment today.

In the creation of the work, a group of children from diverse socio-economic, racial, and religious backgrounds at Philadelphia’s Grover Washington Jr. Middle School researched and discussed climate change all last year through a partnership with Need in Deed, a nonprofit that trains teachers to integrate civic responsibility and service learning with classroom curriculum in public and charter schools across the city. A short film by award-winning videographer Jason Fifield will be presented as part of the musical performance, which will incorporate storyboards created by the students, and jazz musician and middle school music teacher, Wendy Simon, will conduct the student performance section of the work. Dr. Cloud serves as director of the production and hopes this work will show how the power of art can give voice to children who are seldom heard.

This will be the World Premiere of Vision Song: Our Hearts, Our Voices, Our Future.


Attack Point (World Premiere)

Curtis Institute of Music featuring Gallim Dance and Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia

Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center

April 10, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Choreographer: Andrea Miller, Gallim Dance

Music Director: Alan Morrison, Curtis Institute of Music

Organists: Bryan Dunnewald, Clara Gerdes, and Joseph Russell, Curtis Institute of Music

Choir: Choral Arts Philadelphia under the direction of Matthew Glandorf

The Curtis Institute of Music and Brooklyn-based contemporary dance company Gallim Dance come together for a night of dance-listening and organ-watching. Organ soloists perform works written for dance to an empty stage, allowing the audience to imagine the movement it was created for — dancing for the ears. By contrast, the dancers will perform to an organ and choral work not made for dance, exuding the sounds and breath of the majestic instrument from their bodies —organ for the eyes. The moment at which the pipe begins to speak, when the key is pressed, is the attack point. Music and dance meet in non-traditional fashion in this unique presentation.

This program is made possible through a donation by the Fred J. Cooper Restoration Fund as recommended by Frederick R. Haas and Daniel K. Meyer.

This will be the World Premiere of Attack Point.


Architecture in Motion (Philadelphia Premiere)


Merriam Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 13, 2016, 12:00 p.m. (student matinee), and 8:00 p.m.

April 14, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Diavolo brings two works to PIFA 2016 which explore the distinct relationships between the dangers of our environment and the human body, as observed through abstract and recognized structures. The company reinvents dance, reimagines theater, and redefines thrills as performers take movement, athletics, and daring to the extreme, creating abstract narratives through surreal architectural landscapes. The program, Architecture in Motion, is comprised of two individual works, Fluid Infinities and Cubicle.

Fluid Infinities is set on an abstract dome structure sitting on a reflection of itself. The performers explore metaphors of infinite space, continuous movement, and our voyage into the unknown future. The dome’s organic patterns evoke the craters of the moon, a honeycomb of bees, a shifting brain, or an undiscovered starship. As the trilogy concludes, Fluid Infinities investigates the persistence of life through struggle and the promise of life to change beyond the space of time.

Set in an abstract corporate America, Cubicle explores the human condition under cramped control and a monotonous reality, exposing an underlying counterbalance between freedom and anarchy in the workplace. Anonymity and confinement set the pace in this corporate sea of grey as we witness a multitude of shifting landscapes as abstract representations of a familiar work environment. Boxing in both their sanity and distinctiveness, we witness the struggle to maintain a sense of individuality on the corporate climb as the performers labor against a homogenized work mentality, finding solidarity only within themselves and each other.


The Wong Street Journal (East Coast Premiere)

Written and Performed by Kristina Wong

SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center

April 14, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 15, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 16, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

The Wong Street Journal, a sharply hilarious solo performance written and performedby comedian Kristina Wong, illuminates the overwhelming issues of global poverty through the combination of self-skewering personal narrative and the theatric reimagining of dense economic theory. On a charmingly crude, hand-sewn set made from the finest discount felt, the incisive L.A. performer, social media phenom breaks down complex issues using uneasy-to-read charts, live hashtag wars, and riveting hand-crafted slideshows. Wong parallels the journey of being a self-taught/self-absorbed hack economist, with the desire for self-importance as nurtured by third world tourism. She tackles serious socio-economic issues through jazzercise, explores economic theaters which inspire her own brand of “Wongonomics,” NGOs (non-Governmental Organizations), “Missionary Efforts,” and other modes of first world engagement with the developing world and how these structures risk both alleviating and sustaining poverty.

The Wong Street Journal is primarily a solo work backed with degenerate puppets and flashy TED-style PowerPoints, underscored by sobering images from her travels through the developing countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. Using her trademark acerbic humor and personal commentary, this multi-layered stage introduces the character of ‘Kristina Wong’. She’s a well-meaning do-good Asian American activist and social justice martyr who vocalizes a brand of progressive politics that consistently contradict with her ability to carry them out — especially when extracted from the comfort of social media and thrust into the non-Western world. The character of ‘Kristina Wong’ is emblematic of the problems of Western Aid in the third world, the cultural mistranslations and problems in 'presenting' third world poverty to the first world, and the theatrics involved in poverty reduction.

This will be the East Coast premiere of The Wong Street Journal.


Concerto in Sea Major (American Premiere)


Outdoor public fountains TBA

April 15, 2016, time TBA

April 16, 2016, time TBA

April 17, 2016, time TBA

Concerto in Sea Major is the first concert to be performed in the water, as performed by French group Aquacoustique. The group’s three musicians, Jean-Philippe Carde, Florent Lalet, and Stephane Gratteau, use found and recycled objects to create aqua-instruments for this unique performance taking place in select water fountains throughout Philadelphia. Performing belly-deep in water, Aquacoustique transforms snorkels into flutes and watering cans into saxophones, among other ingenious creations — including using water itself as a musical and rhythmic instrument — helping audiences to discover another side of the precious element.

This will be the American Premiere of Concerto in Sea Major.


My Soul’s Shadow

Manual Cinema

The Barnes Foundation

Friday, April 15, 2016, 6:00 p.m.                      

Saturday, April 16, 2016, 6:00 p.m.        

Manual Cinema’s My Soul’s Shadow is a cinematic shadow puppet installation based on the poetry of Federico García Lorca. The shadow projections are created using six overhead projectors, five puppeteers, two screens, and dozens of handmade paper shadow puppets. Original music by Kyle Vegter is performed live by a chamber ensemble. The installation includes the text of the poems that are turned into moving images in the performance.

My Soul’s Shadow loosely adapts imagery, themes, and characters from Lorca’s poetry, dividing his body of work into three acts. The first act is based on poems Lorca wrote early in his career in Granada and Madrid; many of these poems take inspiration from Spanish folk tradition and are steeped in nature imagery, as well as portraits of Granada’s gypsy community. The second act is based on poems Lorca wrote while visiting New York City, and the third is based on The Divan Tamarit, which Lorca wrote near the end of his life, and which takes inspiration from the Arab-Andalusian poetic tradition. The performance of My Soul’s Shadow is bookended by the character of Lorca himself and is based on biographical details of his life, including his ultimate imprisonment and assassination at the hands of Nationalist militia in the early days of the Spanish Civil War.

These performances coincide with the Barnes Foundation’s major exhibition, Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change, on view from February 21 through May 9, 2016.


Global Artistry (World Premiere)


Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 15, 2016, 11:00 a.m. (student matinee), and 7:30 p.m.

April 16, 2016, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

April 17, 2016, 2:00 p.m.

This work speaks to PHILADANCO’s legacy of breaking barriers and building bridges across cultural divides. More details to be announced at a later date.


Sneaker Suites (East Coast Premiere)


Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 20, 2016, 12:00 p.m. (student matinee) and 7:30 p.m.

Los Angeles-based hip-hop dance troupe, Antics, brings the East Coast Premiere of Sneaker Suites to PIFA 2016. The dance theater work is a collaboration between Antics and poet/activist Mark Gonzales in which a collection of pieces ignite a conversation about the material culture of today. Through a multi-layered performance encompassing dance, poetry, voiceover, and theater, audiences will discover the iconic importance of sneakers in hip-hop culture – exploring the empowerment and the exploitation of the most important fashion items in the world and unraveling the complexities of its roots in materialism.

Sneaker Suites explores the role of sneakers as a symbol of globalization and exploitation of the manufacturing work force as well as of a lifestyle that promotes materialism and can lead to violence amongst youth. The pieces within Sneaker Suites will draw connections between the empowering personal meaning of sneakers to hip-hop dancers, the role of expensive sneakers in fostering materialism, the social issues that arise from an obsession with luxury fashion, and the global human rights implications of sneaker consumption. The work takes form in a multi-layered performance where hip-hop dance forms (popping, b-boying/b-girling, house dance, cramping, etc) intersect with the text of provocative poetry by Mr. Gonzales. The work challenges audiences to question assumptions about hip-hop, materialism, and multiple facets of our culture.

Select pieces from the program include:

“Sneakers on a Wire: a collection of stories about the origins of ‘Shoefiti’”

“A Eulogy for Youth Murdered for Their Sneakers”

“Gold Sneakers from China: a letter exchange between a Chinese factory worker and an American breakdancer”

“Heels or Sneakers: the struggle to create a feminine identity that embraces breakdancing”

“I Know You Got Sole: an ode to the sneaker fashion of the first breakdancers”

This will be the East Coast Premiere of Sneaker Suites.


Mi Voca Su Voca (World Premiere)

Written and Performed by Edwin Torres

SEI Innovation Studio at the Kimmel Center

April 20, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 21, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

April 22, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Celebrated poet and self-proclaimed “lingualisualist”, Edwin Torres, integrates autobiographical poems alongside avant garde ones in a theatrical poetry slam that crosses borders between language and sound. With themes ranging from growing up Boricua in New York City to fatherhood, this one–man performance captures the transformative power of poetry inside language in a fascinating way.

This will be the World Premiere of Mi Voca Su Voca.


Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project (Philadelphia Premiere)

Vijay Iyer & Mike Ladd

Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center

April 22, 2016, 8:00 p.m.

Holding It Down: The VeteransDreams Project is the latest astonishing multi-disciplinary project to emerge from the longtime collaboration of Grammy-nominated pianist-composer (and MacArthur Fellow) Vijay Iyer and poet-performer-librettist-emcee Mike Ladd. Three years in the making, the new work focuses on veterans of color from the last decade’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Holding It Down is a thought-provoking combination of music, poetry, song, video monologues, and visuals, created from the actual dreams of young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

This collection of veterans’ dream poems, alternately brutal, elegiac, and joyous, are set to wide-ranging original music created and performed by Iyer and his electroacoustic ensemble, with video designed and edited by Patricia McGregor (Hurt Village at Signature Theater Company, Blood Dazzler at Harlem Stage), forming an original, multidimensional evening-length work.

In Holding It Down, Iyer and Ladd explore the experiences of American veterans of color from these post-9/11 wars through the medium of dreams. For the project, which was commissioned and premiered at Harlem Stage in New York City, Ladd and McGregor interviewed scores of veterans — about both their aspirations and the visions they experience while sleeping. Ladd’s lyrical adaptations of these accounts are juxtaposed with Iyer’s lush, potent music. Veterans Maurice Decaul, a writer who served with the Marines in Iraq, and Lynn Hill, who served in the Air Force and was tasked with piloting drones over Afghanistan from a base in Las Vegas, add to the performance original, brave, from-the-gut, poetic contributions, which serve as the soul of this project.

This work continues in the groundbreaking, politically-searing fashion of previous works by Iyer and Ladd, like the award-winning "In What Language?,” and the acclaimed “Still Life with Commentator” (2007), an oratorio about 24-hour news culture). Coupled with these earlier creations, Holding It Down rounds out an eye-opening trilogy, giving audiences an in-depth look at American life over a decade of war.

Holding It Down has been supported by The Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage.

This will be the Philadelphia Premiere of Holding It Down.



Broad Street, Philadelphia

April 23, 2016

PIFA concludes with the celebrated PIFA Street Fair on Broad Street: six blocks of art, food, entertainment, and vendors that will take place all day Saturday, April 23, between Chestnut and South Streets.



Located in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia, The Kimmel Center’s mission is to operate a world-class performing arts center that engages and serves a broad audience through diverse programming, arts education, and community outreach. The Kimmel Center campus is comprised of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater, SEI Innovation Studio, and the Merck Arts Education Center), the Academy of Music (owned by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association), and the University of the Arts Merriam Theater. TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is the season sponsor of The Kimmel Center’s 2015-2016 Season.  American Airlines is the official airline of Broadway Philadelphia. For additional information, visit