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August 25, 2022

Penn Live Arts kicks off its 50th anniversary season with a Community Open House, September 16-17

The celebration continues all year with exciting dance, music and theatre programming

Arts Performances

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Limited - Penn Live Arts John Kane/Penn Live Arts

Dance troupe Pilobolus marks the 50th anniversary celebration.

Penn Live Arts kicks off its season-long 50th anniversary celebration with a Community Open House on Friday, Sept. 16 and Saturday, Sept. 17. The weekend will be capped off by the 2022-23 season opener – legendary gospel group, the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Limited - Penn Live Arts - Blind Boys of AlabamaJim Herrington/Penn Live Arts

Five-time Grammy® Award-winning gospel legends, the Blind Boys of Alabama.

The festivities begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday with a New Orleans-style second-line procession across the Penn campus, led by the New Breed Brass Band. Featured on Trombone Shorty's 2022 album, Lifted, and winners of New Orleans’ “Best Emerging Artist” award, this young upstart band will bring serious NOLA cred to their first-ever Philadelphia appearances. Penn Band Slam follows at 4 p.m. on the Annenberg Center Outdoor Plaza, showcasing some of the hottest student bands. Then, hear New Breed Brass Band pull out all the stops in a full performance in the Annenberg Center’s Prince Theatre.

On Saturday, families can take the ultimate behind-the-scenes tour through the Annenberg Center with Safari, a unique and interactive journey led by the wildly creative and much-loved performers of Pilobolus. Beloved master storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston will captivate audiences of all ages with stories and songs from the African and African American oral traditions. And it’s also National Dance Day, so attendees should get ready join in to learn the official routine.

Limited - Penn Live Arts - Lakecia BenjaminCourtesy of Lakecia Benjamin/Penn Live Arts

Lakecia Benjamin, jazz saxophonist and Artistic Advisor of October’s Alice & John: A Coltrane Festival.

Saturday evening, the new season officially begins as the five-time Grammy® Award-winning Blind Boys of Alabama take the Zellerbach Theatre stage. With a career that spans 70 years, Blind Boys of Alabama are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. Don’t miss this long-anticipated Penn Live Arts debut!

All community open house activities are free of charge, however reservations are requested and required in some cases. Seating is first come, first served. Blind Boys of Alabama is a paid, ticketed event. Please visit for complete information.

Limited - Penn Live Arts - Dance Theatre of HarlemRachel Neville/Penn Live Arts

The iconic Dance Theatre of Harlem will perform a world premiere by William Forsythe.

Building on this fun weekend, Penn Live Arts continues the 50th anniversary celebration throughout the 2022-23 season. Delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this major milestone will be commemorated in a year of world and Philadelphia premieres, local debuts, commissioned works and some of the most celebrated artists from around the globe. Penn Live Arts is known for its renowned dance series, and the 2022-23 season stays true to tradition with 10 of the world’s greatest companies and most talented choreographers. Rising star saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin serves as the Artistic Advisor for Alice & John: A Coltrane Festival (October 14-23), exploring the tremendous impact this iconic duo had on American music. PLA furthers its longstanding commitment to elevating Black storytelling in two significant residencies: the legendary Negro Ensemble Company, featuring a one-act play festival and a world premiere theatrical work, and Philadelphia’s brilliant hip hop choreographer, Rennie Harris. And, a new series, entitled ListenHear, profiles important contemporary musical voices. The 2022-23 season offers all this and much more.

Subscriptions and single tickets, beginning at $29, are available now. Visit for details.