Questions of Practice: Choreographer Stephen Petronio and Artist Janine Antoni on Performance in a Museum Setting

In conjunction with Ally, a performance-as-exhibition at The Fabric Workshop and Museum that reimagines the traditional retrospective, we asked artist Janine Antoni and choreographer Stephen Petronio to discuss the process of preparing audiences for performances in a museum setting. “It’s really about how the institution and the artist ‘open’ to the public…[It’s] not just opening the door; it’s an invitation into an experience,” Petronio says.

Choreographer Stephen Petronio and artist Janine Antoni on performance in a museum setting. Filmed at The Fabric Workshop and Museum on April 22, 2016.

Supported by the Center, Ally is on view through July 31, 2016. View the performance schedule here.


Janine Antoni creates work in performance art, sculpture, and photography. Her work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, and others. Antoni has participated in the Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, and the Johannesburg Biennale, and has received many prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Creative Capital Artist Grant.

Stephen Petronio has honed a unique language of movement that speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body, informed by its shifting cultural context. In the past 30 years, Petronio has created over 35 works for his company, and has been commissioned by some of the most prestigious modern and ballet companies around the world. Petronio is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.


Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 by collaborating with contemporary choreographer Mark Morris on an original Center-funded dance piece.

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the oldest natural history museum in North America.

Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas presented its second annual Latin Roots & Rhythms Festival, a three-day festival celebrating Latin American, Spanish, and African dance, music and culture.

The Penn Museum embarked on the re-installation of a longstanding display of African objects. The result was a 12-month prototyping exhibition and series of events, designed to elicit visitor feedback.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Director of Three Aksha School of Performing Arts, Rao is trained in Bharatanatyam, a classical South Indian dance form marked by expressive hand gestures and elaborate rhythmic patterns.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Jan Howard was appointed curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2000.

Grants & Grantees

The world premiere of composer Ludwig’s song cycle for soprano, presented by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, will channel the voice and inner life of an imagined medieval “anchoress,” bridging Renaissance and contemporary musical languages.

Flamenco purists may consider Israel Galván a rebel, though he doesn’t see it that way.

Grants & Grantees

An immersive, participatory vocal performance, developed from the sounds, stories, and movements of individual bodies, will place audiences amidst performers, creating an intimate experience of group voice.

Grants & Grantees

Since its founding in 1864, Swarthmore College has given students the knowledge, insight, skills, and experience to become leaders for the common good. The Performing Arts at Swarthmore College serve as educational and artistic laboratories, combining a rigorous liberal arts education with practical explorations of performance.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Galen Joseph-Hunter is the executive director of Wave Farm (formerly free103point9), a nonprofit arts organization that celebrates creative and community use of media and the airwaves.

An award-winning composer-vocalist, Bielawa has worked with Anthony Braxton, Philip Glass Ensemble, and John Zorn. We asked her: How is technology impacting our expectations of live music?