A month of arts on stage

Posted: January 24, 2013

Tapper and choreographer Savion Glover will perform as part of the opening weekend of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, organizers said Wednesday, bringing a bit of the young and the funk to the second edition of the festival, which opens March 28 and runs through April 27.

Jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper, Panamanian jazz artist Danilo Pérez and the Panama 500 Band, instrumentalist and composer DJ Dan Deacon, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, and Philadanco will also participate during the month-long extravaganza, officials announced.

This year's festival, organized around a time-traveling theme, will feature more than 50 performances and events taking place throughout Philadelphia. About 50 regional arts and cultural organizations will participate, and 32 new works will be performed, according to officials at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which is the festival's organizer.

Tickets to all events went on sale Wednesday at the Kimmel Center box office and online at www.pifa.org.

"The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts is a prime example of how this city is a hub for innovation and creativity," Mayor Nutter said in a statement.

Anne Ewers, president and chief executive of the Kimmel Center, expressed delight that PIFA is, as she put it, providing "a thematic canvas for artists to take risks and dare to do the work they've always dreamed of doing."

Dancer and choreographer Glover has done a lot already, including taking home a Tony Award for choreography in 1995 (for Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk). Glover was 22 at the time.

At PIFA, he'll present Dance Space, a world-premiere solo piece  that will tap its way through a primordial Academy of Music March 30, on an improvised journey into the murk of the universe 4 billion years ago.

Pianist Glasper will be joined by bassist Derrick Hodge, drummer Mark Colenburg, saxophonist and keyboardist Casey Benjamin (who also wields a vocoder), plus vocalists Lalah Hathaway, Eric Roberson and Stokley Williams (from Mint Condition) for a reinterpretation of Stevie Wonder's 1976 release Songs in the Key of Life (April 14 at Verizon Hall).

Pianist Pérez and the Panama 500 band will explore Vasco Nuñez de Balboa's encounter with the Pacific and Panama in 1513 (April 26 at the Perelman Theater). DJ Dan Deacon will create an interactive musical experience, SENDMSG, commemorating the first e-mail, Oct. 9, 1971, using smartphone technology (April 12 at the Perelman Theater).

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, will perform A Boy Was Born, a program evoking the birth of composer Benjamin Britten in 1913 (April 6 at Verizon Hall).

Philadanco will perform the world premiere of a work choreographed by Christopher Huggins, The Big Bang. The piece travels back even further than Glover's early universe, exploring the Big Bang's creation of matter nearly 14 billion years ago (April 19-21 at the Perelman).

Additional new program highlights announced Wednesday include chef Walter Staib, proprietor of City Tavern and host of TV's A Taste of History, celebrating the 270th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth in 1743 with an on-stage presentation of the founding generation's favorite foods and parties (April 13 at the Perelman).

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Contact Stephan Salisbury at 215-854-5594, ssalisbury@phillynews.com, or @SPSalisbury on Twitter

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