Can you imagine someone playing the metal barricades separating Liacouras Walk like a xylophone or the wall of the Cecil B. Moore subway station like a washboard? Would you use the skate park at Cecil as your stage?
In Across the Grid, performed last Thursday, March 22, students watched as the Leah Stein Dance Company did just that, transforming seemingly everyday objects into an artful expression. Sponsored by Temple’s GenEd Program, and organized by faculty members Deborah Block and Ken Finkel, the performance was held to celebrate the city of Philadelphia as a place of learning and interaction.
“We chose Leah Stein because her company specializes in pieces that highlight the interaction between people, their culture and the physical environment,” said Julie Phillips, associate director for the GenEd Program.
The Stein performance was sponsored alongside another GenED event, “Place x Promise = Philadelphia,” held Tuesday, March 20, featuring Witold Rybczynski, architect, urbanist and professor at University of Pennsylvania. In his recent book, Makeshift Metropolis, Rybczynski argues that after a century of big ideas that falter, cities may actually thrive best on a multitude of smaller ideas.
One of GenEd’s most innovative features is “The Philadelphia Experience,” an official theme of the program, offering students unprecedented opportunities to explore Philadelphia and integrate the city and the region into their coursework. Nearly half of GenEd courses take students out of the classroom and into the Philadelphia metropolitan area to visit museums, work in schools, attend arts performances, investigate non-profits, observe battle re-enactments, photograph murals, study the engineering of bridges, visit community gardens and more.
”Together, the events were meant to highlight GenEd’s focus on place-based learning in the city Philadelphia,” said Phillips.
Students from the Boyer College of Music and Dance also performed alongside dancers from the company. Three students, Katie Adkins, Kailey McCrudden and Sarah McWilliams, danced in the first performance at 2:30 p.m. The second performance, held at 4 p.m., featured dancers Julee Mahon, Cynda Rella and Emma MacDonald.