NewsWorks’ PIFA guide

    Like a loud, talkative houseguest, PIFA is staying for the month of April. A few weeks ago the program booklet landed on our desk and we’re still trying to make head or tail of it.


    The original seed of the idea was a festival about the composer Igor Stravinsky, an artist representing some of the characteristics of Paris in the early 20th century: collaboration, exploration, genius. Then the festival expanded to reflect all of Paris in 1910, then all of Paris from 1910-1920, and now it seems to encompass everything that happens to be occurring in Philadelphia in the spring of 2011. (Jazz saxaphonist Kenny Garrett at Longwood Garden? The Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival? Both are listed in the PIFA program.)

    Armed with two program guides, a highlighter, and a rubber thumb, Things To Do has wrestled with the listings into something digestible. Here are a few amuse bouche:

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    “A Passing Wind”April 7 – 17Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio Much of what PIFA is remembering from Paris’ Belle Epoque are the achievements that set the bar for Western Culture for the rest of the century: Picasso, Stravinsky, Nijinsky. None of them realized the artistic potential of flatulence, save one: Joseph Pujol, the “fartiste.” This guy actually existed, and Interact Theater’s Seth Rozin created a play based on Pujol’s celebrated vaudeville act.

    Ebene QuartetApril 7Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater

    It will be difficult to escape Stravinksy in Philadelphia in April. Mr. Rite Of Spring is conjured more than any other artist in the festival. This French quartet will be giving some love to other Frenchmen of towering statue and influence. Claude Debussy was older than Stravinksy and influenced him, and Stravinsky’s powerful early work, in turn, influenced Debussy. They shared a taste for dissonance. Maurice Ravel was lumped together with Stravinsky into a group of “outcast artists” called Les Apaches (the hooligans), the Belle Epoque’s punks.

    “How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree?” Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts April 1 – May 29 Truth be told, Thing To Do likes this for its title alone. Despite the long history of American-based art (Hudson Valley, American West) an artist was still considered a hayseed unless they got to gittin over to France and the Beaux Arts school. Much of PAFA collection includes students and faculty who got a taste of Paris and came back renewed and recharged.

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