Firebird: Spirit Rising was a five-month celebration of the human spirit's boundless capacity for good, imagination, creativity, and freedom. With its emphases upon Russian and South African cultural traditions, Firebird: Spirit Rising explored new innovations in the areas of art, theater, music, and dance.
The Mann Center
African American Museum in Philadelphia
Free Library of Philadelphia
GLA Charter School
History Making Productions
Kipp Du Bois Collegiate Academy
Moore College of Art & Design
Multicultural Arts Exchange
(Photo credit: Jordan August)
Friday, April 1, 2016 - Sunday, July 31, 2016
Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library
The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library curated a display that utilized Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird as a case study and a catalyst for an examination of multiculturalism in the arts. Patrons explored the archetypal mythological roots of The Firebird in world cultures, discovered how art movements like primitivism and musical movements like jazz are demonstrative of cross-cultural interchange and synthesis, and, finally, observed the firebird’s continued presence in popular culture.
Monday, May 16, 2016 - Sunday, August 14, 2016
Rosenbach Museum & Library
When Stravinsky was commissioned by Diaghilev to write The Firebird in 1909, he was an unknown twenty-seven-year-old living in St. Petersburg. By the 1940s, he was one of the world’s best-known composers and living in Los Angeles, where his circle of friends included the author and socialite Mercedes de Acosta. As one of the museum's Hands-On Tours, the Rosenbach featured Acosta’s translation of Stravinsky’s article “The Diaghilev I Knew,” a handwritten excerpt of The Rite of Spring, and a tracing of Stravinsky’s foot for the festival. In addition to her friendship with Stravinsky, Acosta had also been romantically involved with Tamara Karsavina, the legendary ballerina who originated the role of the Firebird, and the display included a pair of Karsavina’s slippers gifted to Acosta. For more information on Hands-On Tours, visit www.rosenbach.org.
Several thousand Philadelphia school students were exposed to two days of curated cultural programming that included art, music, scavenger hunts, guided tours of the McNeil Avian Bird Center, and the special showcasing of animals from Russia and South Africa.
Attendees experienced this "Firebird Fusion," a hip-hop suite performed with contemporary dance. Conceived by Nolan Williams, Jr. | Directed by KIPP Music Director, Michael Schaller
Participants became acquainted with traditional folk songs of South Africa in an interactive sing-a-long with Miriam Suzette Ortiz.
Griot Kim Graham presented this storytelling session of South African fables, stories, and poems.
Pronounced in-dah-bah, this Zulu term means gathering.
Attendees experienced pop-up musical performances throughout the day
Celebrated pianists Lance Wiseman and Regina Shenderovich performed classical works of Russian composers who were contemporaries of Igor Stravinsky.
Celebrated artist Jay Sand led this interactive sing-a-long of traditional folk songs of Russia.
Dancers from the Dancesport Studio performed visually stunning waltzes, along with other forms of traditional Russian dance.
The enchanting paintings of Russian fairy tale birds by artists Tatiana Slavina and Halima Miha were featured.
Visual artist Anastasia Balabnova brought the Firebird to life on canvas.
Written and composed by Mbongeni Ngema
Original arrangements by Mbongeni Ngema and Hugh Masekela
Directed by Eric Ruffin
Music Directed by Mongezi Ntaka
Choreography by Jakari Sherman
Sarafina! is a musical inspired by the 1976 Soweto Student Uprising when more than 10,000 South African youth boldly defended their right to an education that affirmed their cultural identity and heritage. 40 years later, the inspiring story of these brave South Africans students and martyrs comes to life in this stellar Howard University Department of Theater Arts production, acclaimed by DC Metro Arts as a "stunning production" of "excellence on a grand scale" and "profound educational purpose".
Sarafina! was presented by NEWorks Productions, the Mann Center, Howard University Department of Theatre Arts, and The Friends of Theatre and Dance at Howard University.
(Photo above - courtesy of Howard University Department of Theatre Arts)(Photo credit (below): Jordan August)
SARAFINA! is one of many projects NEWorks Productions has curated in partnership with Howard University Department of Theatre Arts. Click below to learn more about this partnership.
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Saturday, June 18, 2016 | 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
At this event, the Mann joined AAMP in a celebration and appreciation of the Black experience. Attendees enjoyed a family, fun-filled day of arts, crafts, and entertainment as they came together to learn, strengthen bonds, and re-energize the dream to achieve! Children ages 5-11 were especially welcomed.
Tuesday, June 21 • 4 - 5PM
Students from the KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy will present new music inspired by Stravinsky's Firebird Suite along with Russian and South African folk songs--a real musical fusion. Directed by Michael Schaller
Walnut Street West Library
The Walnut Street West Library presented an hour of Russian and South African folk music that was performed by the music students of KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy.
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Wednesday, July 20 | 8:00PM
Mann Center Main Stage
with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Janni Younge of South Africa's Renowned Handspring Puppet Company
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor
the North American and world orchestral premiere of a multidisciplinary interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral score for the 1910 ballet. Firebird: Reimagined linked South African and Russian traditions and integrated music, literature, and the disciplines of dance, movement, and puppetry.
Creating a distinctly contemporary African and new interpretation of the Russian symphonic work, the Mann curated a unique program featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra, South Africa's multi-Grammy® Award-winning singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and larger-than-life puppets inspired by the artistry of the Broadway sensation War Horse and created by Janni Younge of South Africa’s renowned Handspring Puppet Company. The Philadelphia Orchestra's performance of the complete score for The Firebird was accompanied by a new interpretation of the original Ballets Russes staging with Younge’s puppets and performed by expert puppeteers and dancers.
Learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that went into the shaping of this production.
Northeast Regional Library
Firebird: Spirit Rising Family Day was an immersive experience of Russian culture, music, and cuisine showcased throughout the halls of the Northeast Regional Library, the second largest library in the Philadelphia Free Library System.
This free family event was headlined with a musical concert by clarinetist Igor Begelman and bassoonist Larisa Gelman of Astral Artists. The day also featured presentations and performances curated in partnership with the Multicultural Arts Exchange, including:
Presented in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Astral Artists, and the Multicultural Arts Exchange
Firebird: Spirit Rising was supported by major funding from the following:
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
The Presser Foundation
Firebird: Spirit Rising was presented, in part, with sponsorship from the following:
Independence Blue Cross | Pitcairn | Merck | USLI | Wells Fargo