Friday Arts

Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co., Jane’s Walk: Front Street, Rebel Ventures



June 1, 2017

Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co.
Producer: Karen Smyles

Known in the city since 1986 for its “visually arresting,” “highly imaginative,” dance theater works, and unusual collaborative projects, the Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co. has performed over 71 major works choreographed by Anne-Marie Mulgrew, in 312 performances in the United States and Canada. The company consists of 5-7 professional dancers and esteemed peer collaborators. Additional performers are used on a project basis to flesh out materials and involve new communities.

AMM & DCO has conducted 65 residency programs primarily for underserved populations and more than 3,500 classes/workshops. Company works have appeared in theaters, alternative spaces, site specific locations, schools, festivals, collaborative projects and for film and TV such as The Barnes Museum, Christ Church Neighborhood House, The Porch-30 St. Station, the University of the Arts Theater/Drake Theater, The Painted Bride, The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, University of PA Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology, The Philadelphia Cathedral, Mandell Theater, Penn’s Landing, Fairmount Park, The Horticultural Center, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philly Fringe Festival/Live Arts, Parallax Pictures Studios, Conwell Dance Theater, The Sanctuary at The Rotunda, and The Kimmel Center to name a few.

Friday Arts visits the company at The University Arts Leagues where they were rehearsing for an upcoming performance. We had the opportunity to talk with dancers and long-time collaborator, videographer Carmella Vassor-Johnson, about working with Mulgrew. Mulgrew’s company recently celebrated their 30 year anniversary and she shares her secret for survival in a field where so many have tried and failed.

Jane’s Walk: Front Street
Producer: Michael O’Reilly

The stretch of Front Street located directly under the Market Frankford El just north of Girard Avenue has undergone some radical changes in the past 5 years. A street once avoided for its petty crime and decay has become a local and national draw with its well-regarded restaurants and unique businesses and arts.

While there is not a Jane (but there is a Jon (Geeting)) leading this walk, the concept and implementation of a “Jane’s Walk” comes from Jane Jacobs, whose writings championed the voices of local residents in neighborhood planning. Jacobs was not a city planner by training; she was just a concerned citizen who spent a lot of time observing city life around her, first in New York City, then in Toronto. From her observations, she developed some theories about what makes a city a great place to live. After she passed away in 2006, Jane’s Walk was founded in Toronto by a group of her friends and colleagues who wanted to honor her ideas and legacy.

Jane’s Walks can be found at their website and are free, locally organized walks, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighborhoods. Where more traditional tours are a bit like walking lectures, a Jane’s Walk is more of a walking conversation. Leaders share their knowledge, but also encourage discussion and participation among the walkers.

The Friday Arts cameras followed the Front Street tour, where over 30 people turned out on a beautiful day in May. Through this walk, these participants found out about a former public swimming pool turned play area for both adults and children; several well-regarded food service establishments; the art-festooned corporate HQ for honeygrow – a healthy, prepared-food purveyor expanding quickly along the NE corridor; and finally ending at a warehouse turned beer garden – and all of this well-within ear shot of the cars on Front Street and the rumbling elevated subway train passing above.

Rebel Ventures
Monica Rogozinski

In early 2017 a healthy breakfast cake, Rebel Crumbles, was introduced at all Philadelphia area public schools and Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic schools – but unlike other food served at school, this snack was designed, produced and marketed by the Rebel Ventures crew, a collection of local high school students who aim to provide nutritious meal choices for their classmates. The cake, filled with fruits, whole grains, and spices, is provided for free at breakfast to a total of 319 schools in the area.

Rebel Ventures is a youth-powered, nonprofit, social enterprise based in West Philadelphia and supported by the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania. The enterprise is comprised of high school students, college mentors, and full-time employees, who are dedicated to creating “healthy deliciousness” with youth (and adult allies) in the form of healthy, affordable foods for schools in Philadelphia.