Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts - 6abc Loves the Arts

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PIFA runs April 8th through the 23rd. While many of the events are free, some are ticketed. (WPVI)

The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts or PIFA is back in just a few weeks.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts curates the biennial festival-a 16 day celebration of the visual and performing arts, with events being held all over the city and many of them free.

"It's an opportunity, I think, for people to see work they've never seen by major international artists, to see new work from local artists that they haven't seen before," says PIFA Artistic Director Jay Wahl.

This is the Kimmel's 3rd PIFA Festival. The theme is "We Are What We Make" and there are more than 60 events starting April 8th at Penns Landing with Article 13, a free show that's equal parts installation, spectacle, and documentary.

"They'll be a giant crane, hanging three balls of fire way over the air," says Wahl.

Anne Ewers, President & CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts says "20,000 people can wend their way through this performance. It's extraordinary."

Along the journey, says Wahl, local immigrants tell their stories in video.
"The finale is this giant sand curtain where people go to cross a border and sand rains down upon them. It's stunningly beautiful."

Article 13 is one of a number of American premieres in the PIFA festival. There's also Knitting Peace at the Merriam Theater, a daring contemporary trapeze performance by the Swedish circus troupe Cirkus Cirkor.

"People are balancing on balls of yarn upside down," says Wahl, "it's extraordinary."

The Merriam will also play host to Architecture in Motion, by the Los Angeles-based dance company Diavolo.

"They toss each other into the air. They dive into each other's arms. It's very bold. It's very athletic. It's very beautiful," says Wahl.

The dancers explore the counterbalance between freedom and anarchy and the confines in corporate America that box us in.

For the kids, there's Paper Planet, an interactive experience in the Kimmel Center's Hamilton Garden.

"Each group of kids that comes in to be part of the show is handed some paper and masking tape and they're asked to unleash their creativity," says Wahl.

The festival culminates with a huge street fair on South Broad Street, the Avenue of the Arts, on April 23rd that's expected to draw 300,000+ people.

"It's just an artistic fun event," says Wahl, "Philadelphia is really on an international stage in a way it's never been...and PIFA really shines a spotlight on all of that."
PIFA runs April 8th through the 23rd. While many of the events are free, some are ticketed. You can find the full schedule at

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