Firebird: Spirit Rising

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April through September, 2016

Festival Overview | Events | Multimedia | Sponsors

Festival Overview

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts is pleased to announce our 2016 festival, Firebird: Spirit Rising, a five-month celebration of the human spirit's boundless capacity for good, imagination, creativity, and freedom. Firebird: Spirit Rising will expand the creative boundaries of our educational programming and community engagement through an unprecedented series of artistic initiatives developed in partnership with leading academic, civic and arts institutions. These works will explore new innovations in the areas of art, theater, music, and dance.

Curated by Nolan Williams, Jr., CEO of NEWorks Productions and Festival Artistic Director for the Mann.


Wednesday, July 20th @ 8:00PM
Firebird: Reimagined
With The Philadelphia Orchestra, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Janni Younge of South Africa's Renowned Handspring Puppet Company
Cristian Măcelaru, conductor

The Mann Center for the Performing Arts will present the North American premiere of this multidisciplinary interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral score for the 1910 ballet. Firebird: Reimagined will link South African and Russian traditions and integrate music, literature, and the disciplines of dance, movement, and puppetry.

Creating a distinctly contemporary African new interpretation of the Russian symphonic work, The Mann will curate 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 will be accompanied by a new interpretation of the original Ballets Russes staging with Younge’s puppets, performed by expert puppeteers and dancers.

5201 Parkside Ave
Philadelphia, PA


April 1 - July 31
Stravinsky and Multiculturalism
Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library

The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia Parkway Central Library curates a display that utilizes Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird as a case study and a catalyst for an examination of multiculturalism in the arts. Patrons will explore the archetypal mythological roots of the firebird in world cultures, discover how art movements like Primitivism and musical movements like Jazz are demonstrative of cross-cultural interchange and synthesis, and, finally, observe the firebird’s continued presence in popular culture. More information visit

Free Admission

1901 Vine St
Philadelphia, PA


May 16 - August 14
Firebird at the Rosenbach
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 was living in Los Angeles, where his circle of friends included the author and socialite Mercedes de Acosta. The Rosenbach will feature 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. 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 will include a pair of Karsavina’s slippers gifted to Acosta.  For more information on Hands on Tours of Stravinsky material visit 

Free After $10 Rosenbach Museum & Library Admission
Visit for more information and dates and times for the Hands on Tours of Stravinsky material

2008 Delancey Place
Philadelphia, PA


May 23 - May 24
Firebird at the Zoo
A Celebration of the music, dance and storytelling of South Africa!
The Philadelphia Zoo

The Mann Center will bring programming to several thousand Philadelphia school students over two days at the Philadelphia Zoo for a day of art, music, scavenger hunts and guided tours of the McNeil Avian Bird Center. Animals from Russia and South Africa will also be featured and showcased to students throughout the day. 


Monday, May 23

Firebird Urban Youth Suite feat. KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy
Experience this Firebird Fusion, a hip-hop suite performed with contemporary dance.    This is a very special presentation commissed by the Mann Center and directed by KIPP Music Director, Micael Schaller.

South African Folk Sing
Become acquainted with traditional folk songs of South Africa in an interactive sing-a-long with Suzette Ortiz.

Pronounced in-dah-bah (Indaba is a Zulu term that means gathering).
Join Griot Kim Graham for a storytelling session of South African fables, stories & poems.

Pop-up Performances
Look out for our roving ensemble of performers throughout the day. When they do, take a minute to enjoy their melodious sounds!


Tuesday, May 24

Russian Piano Classics!
Enjoy the music of celebrated pianists Lance Wiseman and Regina Shenderovich as they perform classical works of Russian composers who were contemporaries of Igor Stravinsky.

Eastern-Euro Folk Sing
Become acquainted with traditional folk songs of Russia in an interactive sing-a-long with celebrated artist Jay Sand.

Ballroom Dancing
Enjoy dancers from the Dancesport Studio as they perform visually stunning waltzes, along with other forms of traditional Russian Dance.

Russian Fairy Tale Birds on Display
Stop and enjoy the enchanting paintings of Russian fairy tale birds by artists Tatiana Slavina and Halima Miha.

Live Firebird Painting
Watch artist Anastasia Balabnova bring the firebird to life on canvas.

In partnership with the Philadelphia Zoo

Free After Zoo Admission 

3400 W Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA


Sunday, July 10 • 2PM
Firebird: Spirit Rising Family Day
Northeast Regional Library

Don't miss this immersive experience as Russian culture, music, and cuisine are showcased throughout the halls of the Northeast Regional Library, the second largest library in the Philadelphia Free Library System.

This free family event will be headlined with a musical concert by clarinetist Igor Begelman and bassoonist Larisa Gelman, of Astral Artists.

The day will also feature presentations and performance curated in partnership with the Multicultural Arts Exchange, including:

Arts and crafts for ages 5 – 12

Russian food demonstrations by Michèle Haines, founder and Executive Chef of Spring Mill Café in Conshohocken, PA;

Music performances by acclaimed pianist Regina Shenderovich; and, Lance Wiseman

Classic Russian Ballroom Dancing by Brilliant Dancesport Studio

Multicultural music Performance for kids by Jay Rand

Displays of Russian art by Sergi Lukyanov and Kim Balaschak

For more information visit

In partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, Astral Artists, and the Multicultural Arts Exchange

Free Admission but registration is encouraged

Register on:

2228 Cottman Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149


Tuesday, June 14 @ 10AM
Presented by The Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Written and compsed 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 affirms 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".

In partnership with NEWorks Productions, Howard University Department of Theatre Arts, and The Friends of Theatre and Dance at Howard University

Gates open one half hour prior to the performance; parking is FREE! Transportation will not be provided. No food is permitted inside theater. Seating is general admission, and is on a first come, first served basis. No tickets will be issued for this event, however registration is required in advance.

Tickets are now SOLD OUT!

5201 Parkside Ave
Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, June 18 @ 10AM - 5PM
Macy’s Family FunDay! - Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom!

Join AAMP to celebrate and appreciate the Black experience. Enjoy a family-fun-filled day of arts, crafts, and entertainment as we come together to learn, strengthen bonds, and re-energize the dream to achieve! Children ages 5-11 especially welcome!

Cost: Free with museum admission.

The African American Museum in Philadelphia
701 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Tuesday, June 21 @ 4 - 5PM
Firebird: Fusion
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 will present an hour of Russian and South African folk music that will be performed by the music students of KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy.

In partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia and KIPP Collegiate Academy

Free Admission

201 S 40th St,
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Mercedes de Acosta: Revolutionary Socialite
Mercedes de Acosta is best remembered for her relationships with Isadora Duncan, Greta Garbo, and Marlene Dietrich. However, she was also an accomplished writer and an influential figure in the café society of the 1930s. She influenced and inspired artists and writers who challenged both sexual and artistic norms such as Igor Stravinsky, Cecil Beaton, Sarah Bernhardt, and Noel Coward. In this tour, we will explore some of the written correspondence between de Acosta and the revolutionary artists of her day.

About Hands-On Tours
Created especially for visitors who seek an in-depth and focused look at our collection, Hands-On Tours allow you unparalleled access to rare and important items that are not usually on view to the public. Depending on the tour, you will have the chance to handle historic items, be it by turning the page of a rare book, testing the weight of a delicate teacup, or reading from a manuscript.

Cost: $5 per person (in addition to the cost of general admission). For tickets and information, visit or call 215-732-1600.

Sunday, May 22: 3-4 pm
Friday, July 8: 3-4 pm
Sunday, July 31: 3-4 pm

In addition to these listed events, the Mann is proud to have also partnered with Moore College of Art and Design, KIPP DuBoise Collegiate Academy, Global Leadership Academy and other local schools to bring unique educational opportunities and master classes related to the cross-cultural explorations of Firebird to students in the Philadelphia area.


Photo Album



Firebird: Reimagined has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.



Firebird: Spirit Rising presented in partnership with:



Firebird: Spirit Rising has been sponsored by:


Corporate Sponsors ofthe Mann

Joseph. C. Scott Foundation

The Lenfest Foundation

MKM Foundation

Kelly and Rick Biesecker

Pia and Jimmy Zankel

Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation

 Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation

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