'This American Life' host Ira Glass premieres new dance project in Philly

Radio host Ira Glass , who has never taken dance classes, will hit the stage this weekend during "One Radio Show, Two Dancers."
Radio host Ira Glass , who has never taken dance classes, will hit the stage this weekend during "One Radio Show, Two Dancers."
Posted: April 19, 2013

I RA GLASS is the Jessica Simpson of public radio.

Not the new, pregnant designer Jessica Simpson. The old, singing, can't dance a lick Jessica Simpson. That Jessica used to surround herself with dancers to hide her own immobility.

And that brings us to Glass. The "This American Life" host will present the world premiere of "One Radio Show, Two Dancers," a night of stories and dance, courtesy of Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass, Saturday and Sunday at the Annenberg Center.

Glass will even cut a rug himself - surrounded by real dancers.

"I never went to dance class. I never tried to do the steps I saw on 'Soul Train.' I knew that my level was below that," Glass said. "I'm in my 50s and not athletic at all. While they've spent the last few decades dancing every day, I've spent the last few decades sitting on my fat ass in front of my computer."

He will, therefore, largely leave the dancing up to the professionals, while he does what he does best: tell stories that reflect similar themes to Barnes and Bass' work.

Although Philly gets the world premiere of the show, the trio tried out this performance before, including a short performance at Carnegie Hall for a Tibet House benefit organized by his cousin, avant-garde composer Philip Glass.

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Nepotism!" Glass joked. "We had 10 minutes on a program with Patti Smith and Philip Glass and Tibetan monks. I have to say we killed."

Glass was unsure whether he'd invite his friends at Philly NPR affiliate WHYY, but he did confirm what we all know about our local diminutive, even-toned "Fresh Air" host: " Terry Gross is super tough," Glass said. "If she simply learned some basic firearms skills, she could hold it down."

Although Glass shared that juicy tidbit, he refused to give up what his fave dance jam is.

"The only time I've been in a nightclub was in a DJ battle against [sex-advice columnist] Dan Savage," Glass said. "I believe Dan would confirm I 100 percent won because he played too many show tunes."

Barnes-bound

Michelle Pfeiffer and Kate Capshaw were in town Wednesday checking out the Barnes Foundation.

Pfeiffer can next be seen in Luc Besson's "Malavita," with Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones, scheduled for a September release.

Capshaw, a/k/a the wife of Steven Spielberg, hasn't been on the big screen since 2002, but she'll always be Willie Scott in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" to me (although, presumably less whiny).

Rock-star chef

Chef Maneet Chauhan, judge on the Food Network's "Chopped," is traveling around the country in what she and her co-author, Doug Singer, are calling a rock-star-style book tour to promote her new tome, Flavors of My World.

The book includes 25 of Chauhan's fave global recipes with what she calls "my flare, an Indian twist."

But is she living up to her rock-star distinction?

"Doug was trying to convince me to get tattoos done. He's telling me this while I'm in India and I have a wailing 20-month-old in my arms," Chauhan told me. "And I'm like, 'Yeah, in your dreams, get me the stick-on ones.' "

Chauhan will sign her book from 10 a.m. to noon Friday at Barnes & Noble (1805 Walnut St.).

Later, she'll hold a one-night pop-up restaurant at South Broad's Tashan. Tix are $95 per person; call 267-687-2170 for reservations.

Krost talk

New York-based radio host Chelsea Krost, 22, is trying her hand at TV with a show on indie station WMCN (channel 21 in most parts of Philly), beginning Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Her new program is geared at millennials. "I look up to to Katie and Oprah and Barbara, but every time they talked about the millennials, there were no millennials around," a very enthusiastic Krost told me. "Now, [millennials] can ask questions to their peers and of their peers."

Krost's first show will focus on, what else? Sex.

Bragg about it

Record Store Day is this Saturday, and while many pop shops around Philly will have great events and exclusive content on sale, I'm jazzed about Manayunk's Main Street Music, which will have legendary punker Billy Bragg play an in-store performance at noon. Other bands hitting up the event include Travel Lanes, the Joy Formidable, Shark Tape and Generationals.


Email: eichelm@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN

Online: ph.ly/DNGossip

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