PIMA Group is a non-profit dance and music company based in Philadelphia that performs and presents innovative live music and dance, developing new approaches to the integration of dance, music and visual art. PIMA Group is currently undertaking a residency with Landmarks Contemporary Projects that will result in an original, site-specific performance piece at the Powel House Museum in February 2008.
Come share in the experience as PIMA performers take an intimate-sized group through the historic home in which Benjamin Franklin’s daughter, Sarah, shared in a dance with George Washington. As the audience moves throughout the rooms of the house, the gentle movement of the dancers creates an immersive experience. The setting of the Powel House Museum offers a multitude of inspiring intrigues, inviting the audience to interact with and examine this historic home through contemporary dance. The challenge of commenting upon the historical while maintaining a refreshing and new artistic aesthetic is of utmost interest to PIMA choreographer Melisa Putz. Look! is inspired by the colors, furniture and the beauty of a historical time period…a time when the Powel House hosted some of the most elegant dancing of the age.
PIMA Group explores the edges of works ranging from improvisational performance art work to more formal choreographed and composed pieces. PIMA Group regularly collaborates with outside artists and organizations. As part of its mission, PIMA Group also offers dance classes and workshops throughout the year. PIMA Group was founded in 2001 by choreographer Melisa Putz and musicians Michael Barker and Thomas Clark. PIMA Group has performed at numerous venues nationally and internationally. Most recently, PIMA Group was a part of the 2007 Sibiu Dans Festival in Sibiu, Romania offering a seven-day dance technique and composition workshop along with a performance. PIMA Group has received two Temple University Space Grants, selection for Susan Hess Choreographer’s Project, a New Edge Dance Residency at the Community Education Center and most recently Artist-in-Residence as part of the Bowerbird@Landmarks Series. PIMA Group has received support from the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, Fractured Atlas and Dance Theater Workshop’s Suitcase Fund.
THE POWEL HOUSE MUSEUM
Built in 1765 by merchant and businessman Charles Stedman, this elegant Georgian brick mansion was purchased by Samuel Powel in 1769 at the time of his marriage to Elizabeth Willing. Samuel Powel, a wealthy, educated man who had toured the Continent for seven years before settling down, served as the last mayor of Philadelphia under the Crown and was the first mayor of the city after the creation of the United States. Mayor Powel was later dubbed the Patriot Mayor.” Mayor Powel and his wife were well known for their hospitality and frequently entertained such notable guests as George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, and the Marquis de Lafayette.
During the early 20th century, the house served as a warehouse and office for a business that imported and exported Russian and Siberian horse hair and bristles. The owners had sold much of the interior architectural detail to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum. Little more than a shell, the building was slated for demolition and the site to be used for a parking lot. After learning of the imminent demolition, Miss Frances Wister formed The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks (Landmarks) and raised sufficient funds to purchase the property in 1931. Over the next decade, Miss Wister and Landmarks restored the house to its appearance during Samuel Powel residency, interpreting the daily lives of wealthy Philadelphians at the time of the American Revolution.
Today, the rich history of the Powel House may be seen in its decorative arts collection, its portraits of Powels and Willings, and its formal, walled garden so typical of Colonial Philadelphia. Its beautiful entryway, ballroom with bas-relief plasterwork, and mahogany wainscoting give the house its reputation as perhaps America’s finest existing Georgian Colonial townhouse.
LANDMARKS is an ongoing curatorial partnership that expands cultural offerings in Philadelphia by bringing experimental and improvisational music, film, dance and other creative, genre-defying performing arts to historic sites in the region. Showcasing the newest performing arts is nothing new for Landmarks’ four historic, 18th century houses—Grumblethorpe, Physick House, Powel House and Waynesborough. These houses would often have been the locations for recitals of the most music of their time. Even Thomas Jefferson was known to have played the fiddle in the Powel House, which was the one of the most significant cultural and social centers of colonial and revolutionary Philadelphia. Events in the bowerbird@LANDMARKS series revive this long-lost tradition of intimate concerts, and provide an intelligent alternative for contemporary audiences.
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