Center-Funded Projects from Madhusmita Bora, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Orchestra 2001, Penn Museum in The New York Times, NPR, Hyperallergic & More

04 May 2018


Madhusmita Bora and Sattriya Dance Company with The Dancing Monks of Assam in performance at The Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo by Bill Hebert, courtesy Madhusmita Bora.

A number of Center grantees have recently garnered national and regional media attention for their ensemble-devised theater productions, interactive exhibitions that highlight ancient artifacts and cultures, and performances that pay tribute to artistic legacies. See our highlights below.

Madhusmita Bora’s Threads of History: Resurrection of a Textile—a classical Indian dance performance in collaboration with the Dancing Monks of Assam—received a number of national and regional media hits. The New York Times previewed the Philadelphia performance and related activities in New York, writing that “it is through the efforts of [Bora’s] Sattriya Dance Company, with the help of a grant from the Pew Center, that the monks have been able to travel to Philadelphia and New York as part of their first United States tour.” Additional coverage appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, and Dance Journal.


MAYA 2012: Lords of Time, 2012, installation view, Penn Museum. Photo courtesy of Penn Museum.

The Guardian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, and several other news outlets covered the opening of the Penn Museum’s Ancient Middle East Galleries, part of a five-year initiative to develop new approaches to exhibition design, public programming, and communications, supported by a Center Advancement grant.


Frank Zappa at The Barbican, London, 1982. Photo by Michael Putland.

Orchestra 2001’s Philadelphia premiere of the genre-defying composition The Yellow Shark, by composer and rock guitarist Frank Zappa, was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, WRTI, WHYY, and JamBase. WRTI's Debra Lew Harder spoke with Orchestra 2001 artistic director Jayce Ogren about the musical iconoclast: “No one has ever made music quite like Zappa’s, and with such a pure intent: to bring whatever he heard in his head to life, regardless of genre, style or possible stereotypes,” Ogren said.


Lydie Breeze Trilogy Part II: Aipotu, photo by Dave Sarrafian

EgoPo Classic Theater received positive reviews and feature stories for its marathon production of John Guare’s Lydie Breeze Trilogy. “Under Lane Savadove’s imaginative direction and in Markéta Fantová’s remarkable sets of wood and sand, this allegory of America comes to brilliant visual life,” reported The Philadelphia Inquirer. The trilogy received additional coverage from WHYY and American Theatre, among others.

WHYY highlighted the culminating event of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s (Dis)placed: Expressions of Identity in Transition, an international collaboration with four artists of Arab heritage who created new works grappling with notions of displacement. The story featured an interview with Pew Fellow and Syrian composer Kinan Abou-afach, who created an eight-part suite, “Of Roads and Homes,” that “channels the feelings of fear, confusion, and loss into a musical arc,” according to WHYY.

Opera Philadelphia received recognition for its innovative commission of The Wake World, with music and libretto by David Hertzberg. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the work, which premiered at the Center-supported O17 festival, won the best new opera award from the Music Critics Association of North America.

¡BIENVENIDOS BLANCOS! or WELCOME WHITE PEOPLE!, the ensemble-devised performance work presented by Alex Torra and Team Sunshine Performance Corporation, garnered a positive review and a feature story from WHYY. Critic Howard Shapiro wrote, “[The play] starts off as loopy fun… switches to mystical storytelling… then ends with a deeply felt and poignant declaration about identity from… Alex Torra.”


Radio Silence, by Michael Rakowitz and Mural Arts Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik, courtesy of Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Radio Silence, Mural Arts Philadelphia’s ongoing performance and radio project conceived by artist Michael Rakowitz, was recently featured in Hyperallergic. “What makes Radio Silence compelling is its willingness to consider the possibility that all narratives are valid parts of the truth of a story… the project creates a picture of collective trauma and perseverance,” noted Hyperallergic contributor Samantha Mitchell.

In a feature story, Bruce Warren told The Philadelphia Inquirer that WXPN’s Center-funded project Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul aims to “showcase that a lot of music that we’re playing now came from African American music and gospel…We want to illustrate the connection, and also show how the genre lives in the Philadelphia music scene and the churches here.” NPR Music also included the project in its coverage of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers’ premiere of the performance work Faith Project/The Door was featured in The Dance Journal, Broad Street Review, and phindie. “Faith Project/The Door portrays how faith and divinity blend love with fear, strength with weakness, and certainty with doubt,” wrote Broad Street Review’s Melissa Strong. The Philadelphia Inquirer previewed the work.