In celebration of Women’s History Month throughout March, we asked women from across the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus to honor a woman from the past by answering a single question:
“If you could have a conversation with any woman from performing arts history, who would you choose, and why?”
Anne Ewers, President & CEO honoring Ardis Kranik, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago
"Ardis was one of the first women in North America to run an opera company and, at the time, Lyric Opera of Chicago was second only to the MET. Ardis was a visionary yet always had her feet planted firmly on the ground. While I was able to know her fleetingly, a conversation now would be invaluable."
Leslie Patterson-Tyler, Senior Director of Media Relations and Communications honoring Ida B. Wells, Civil Rights and Suffrage Pioneer
“As a lifelong journalist and admirer of the trailblazing activism of Ida B. Wells, I would love to ask her the source of her “bad-assery”! Born enslaved during the Civil War, orphaned at the age of 16, Ms. Wells rose up to become a civil rights and suffrage pioneer – fighting for equality using a pen and paper as her weapons. Ms. Wells received death threats, and her newspaper building was burned to the ground. Nevertheless, she persisted! I wonder what Ms. Wells would say today about #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo? The more things change...”
Dyann Paoline , Volunteer honoring Alicia Alonso, Cuban Primo Ballerina and Choreographer
“I learned about Alicia Alonzo during a trip to Cuba in 2017. She began dancing at age 11 and went on to dance in NYC, before returning to her home to start the Ballet National de Cuba. In 1941, she was diagnosed with a detached retina leaving her with only partial sight in one eye and no peripheral vision. What makes this woman truly amazing to me though is that she was able to dance again, by working closely with her partners on choreography, and set designers to install strong spotlights in different colors to serve as her guidelines on the stage. She danced well into late age, and I only wish I been able to see her perform!”
Jasmine Hammond, Education Program Manager honoring Beyoncé, Singer songwriter, actress, dancer, and producer
"She is my FAVORITE performer alive and has built a platform, not only for herself, but for her family, women, and people of color. I am constantly amazed by how she has used the stories that came before her to influence her work, find her truth, guide her career, and inspire her work. I mean…she was the first artist to be nominated for four different genres of music all in one year (2017 Grammy Awards). She reminds me to never forget where I came from (Southern Virginia), to always acknowledge those that came before me, and to ultimately, always be me."
Lauren Tighe, Senior Accountant honoring Viola Smith, American drummer
"Drums are the heartbeat of a song, and as someone who tends to feel the emotion in a song, drums are important to me. (I also secretly want to learn them myself!) Viola took the reins of the drumsticks and entered a world of a male-dominated instrument and made her own mark while paving the way for many other amazing female drummers. Her tenacity and courage are inspiring to me. It reminds me to live each day to the fullest and don’t let simple social barricades stop me from being who I am."
Ruth Naomi Floyd, 2019-20 Jazz Residency Artist honoring Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, poet, abolitionist, suffragist and justice worker
“100 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper did the same on a trolley car in Philadelphia. I believe each generation has a duty to take what is best from the generation that preceded them and build on it to create something new. I am inspired by the art, truth-telling words and courageous actions of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.”
Lindsay Rosetti, Associate Director of Guest Services honoring Julie Taymor, film/stage director and writer
"Julie Taymor became an icon for me when I saw my first Broadway production, The Lion King. She took a Disney story that everyone knew and raised the bar into a theatrical production that no one will ever forget. Her blend of human actors, masks, Indonesian culture, and puppets led me to focus on design and mixed media art later on in college."
Roenna Mundy, Usher honoring Michelle Obama, Lawyer, writer, and former First Lady of the United States
"I admire her for all she has achieved. Michelle has come so far in life—from her education to her career to her family—at such a young age. She is intelligent, determined, driven, and always working with a purpose. I would be honored to spend time with her and her family."
MaryKate Giarrocco, Programming and Event Associate honoring Gwen Verdon, 4-time Tony Award winning actor and dancer
"Her iconic roles intrigued me to learn more about her life and amazing career. Verdon is the definition of a hardworking woman during a time when women were not encouraged to chase their dreams or pursue a career outside of the home. Her determination to succeed is a great example for young women, like myself, to apply not only to my career but my life as well. Her life and legacy as a strong woman in the performing arts industry is something that we can all emulate."
Read the answers from last year’s participants here > https://www.kimmelcenter.org/blog/womens-history-month-2019/