Student Performing Arts Update for January 2022


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Hi all,

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as the Spring 2022 semester begins. We know that the delayed in-person start has been challenging, and Platt House and the PAC Shop are here to support you.  We are all disappointed that the best laid plans are once again disrupted by Covid 19, but we are optimistic that this is temporary.  We are asking you to be mindful of everyone’s needs as we push through as a student performing arts community.   In advance of this long email, we need to say that we at Platt House and the PAC Shop are committed to working with you on modifications and solutions to make this semester work.   We await more directives from the University together and we will get through this together.  

Platt House & PACExec will be hosting a virtual Town Hall on Saturday1/15 for all student performing arts groups. At that meeting, we will discuss the updates below, share any new guidance, and answer any questions you have to the best of our ability at that time. This meeting is mandatory for all student performing arts groups. Please be sure to send at least one Exec/Board member. This should be someone very knowledgeable about the group who will report the details back to all group members.

Student Performing Arts Town Hall Meeting
Saturday1/15 @ 5pm ET
Note: The Zoom Link has been removed from this website in the interest of cybersecurity. Please contact your group’s PAC Representative on the PAC-Rep listserv, or email us at platthouse[at]pobox.upenn.edu for the link.
Mandatory for all student performing arts groups

As shared previously, in-person student group gatherings, including student performing arts activities, will not be permitted until at least Monday, 1/24. This date will likely be extended. This is a mitigation strategy for Covid-19, and this policy has been communicated from Campus Health and University Life leadership. We cannot control how long in-person student group activities will be suspended, and we will share any updates as we receive them. Please make sure your groups do not gather in person while in-person student group gatherings are not permitted. We expect University guidance on this very soon. 

Platt House will be open with limited hours and limited capacity starting on Wednesday, 1/12. Capacity in rehearsal rooms will be limited to one person per room max, and capacity in the Lobby will be limited to 5 people max, spread out throughout the space. Green passes will be checked, and either N95 or double masks need to be worn at all times, no exceptions. Below is the current schedule, starting Wednesday, 1/12:

  • Sundays: 1pm-5pm
  • Mondays through Fridays: 12pm-8pm
    • Platt House will be closed on Monday, 1/17 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
  • Saturdays: Closed

The PAC Shop will be open by appointment only (https://tinyurl.com/shophours21), and with very limited capacity starting on Wednesday, 1/12. Capacity in the shop is limited to 2 people, spread out throughout the space. Green passes will be checked, and double masks/N95 need to be worn at all times, no exceptions. You should continue to schedule your six week meetings, as usual (http://tinyurl.com/pacshop6).  

At this point, since we do not know exactly how student performing arts activities will unfold for this semester, we are working on and we encourage you all to work on backup plans. This can include plans for virtual auditions, rehearsals, and shows; pushing back activities until later in the semester; scaling down productions (the PAC Shop can assist with these logistics); sharing resources; and more.

At this point, Platt House, the PAC Shop, and PACExec believe it would be wise to plan for all performances to occur either after Spring Break and/or to be produced virtually. We are hopeful that student performances can be conducted in-person later in the semester, and virtual is always an option to keep in mind.

Given a shortened timeline for in-person activities this semester, and in order to be equitable to groups, we will be asking you to share resources more than in a typical in-person semester. This may mean additional groups in space shares, scaled down productions, shortened tech times, and more. This consolidation will require your input. PACExec will send a form out for your input, and this will be discussed at the Town Hall.  

We will be rescheduling the Pre-Production meeting originally scheduled for Friday, 1/14 at 3:30pm, so you can remove that calendar item for now. 

We absolutely understand that these updates are not what anyone was hoping for as we begin this new semester. We are here to support you. Feel free to send any questions to platthouse[at]pobox.upenn.edu or reserve them for our meeting on the 15th. We may not be able to answer all questions right away, but we will do our best.

We are so grateful to work with all the students in this vibrant community, and we look forward to supporting you and your missions as the semester continues. Please take care.

Best,
Platt House & the PAC Shop

Restarting and Reuniting – In Person Performing Arts


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Dear Members of the Student Performing Arts Community,

I hope you are having wonderful summers.  At Platt House and in the PAC Shop, we are so happy that we will be open and in person this academic year.  As the University has stated, Penn will be open at full capacity for the academic year.  In fact, Platt House already has available hours for full rehearsal room usage.  You may be pinching yourself and asking if this is real.  We get it.  There is a certain anxious feeling about just jumping back in after so much time with restrictions.  We too are wrestling with that feeling.

Yet, the excitement is also real.  Here is the chance to plan in a smart and strategic way.  An analogy might be that that you have been in a desert without water for a long time and when you finally get to that water, you drink so much of it in one sitting that you become ill.  Ideally, you would have built up to a normal amount of water in your system so your body could process it.  The elated feeling of ending your thirst will turn to an unhealthy feeling, and you will wish you hadn’t over indulged.  We are asking you to use this logic when planning your performing arts experiences as well.  Groups are no longer used to 20 hours of rehearsal per week or having multiple shows complete with all the production required for an in-person experience.  Savor the experience of being able to do what you love without overdoing it.  Prioritize your rehearsal and performance needs without losing the chance to bond and engage with each other.  Soak in the moment without losing yourself and all your free time.  Step back in one foot at a time, and be mindful of all that you are doing.

In addition, there are takeaways from this pandemic that we can still apply.  Many groups made your shows accessible to everyone.  Why stop now?  You found ways to meet over Zoom.  Could Zoom meetings help you this year too when you all can’t be in the same room?  Many of you dove into social justice issues.  Don’t stop now.  Overall, some people felt more in tune with their mental health needs and the needs of others.  Let’s keep that going.  And let’s normalize mask wearing for those who wish to keep using masks to protect themselves.  Mask acceptance is important.

Lastly, remember that we are here to help.  PAC-Exec is here to help.  And you should have all identified someone in your group or a recently graduated individual who can help you remember how to do in-person shows.  We are planning helpful training sessions as well as an engaging PAC CONference.  You can also ask us anything at any time.  Or just let us know what you are doing by reaching out or in a meeting with your group advisor.  We love to hear from you, and we cannot wait to see you.

Stay tuned for informative emails as we continue our summers.  Stay safe and keep in touch.

With warm greetings from all of us at Platt House and the PAC Shop,

Best,
Laurie

Updated COVID Regulations and Guidance


Friday, April 30, 2021

Dear Performing Arts Group Leaders, 

It is great to be back on campus again!   I am meeting some of you for the first time and others I haven’t seen in almost 2 years.  It feels great to be sharing the same spaces with you again.  As the saying goes, with this new freedom comes great responsibility.  We at Platt House and the PAC Shop are doing everything we can to follow University rules and common sense to keep everything open and available for student performing arts groups.  To maintain everyone’s safety, Penn has instituted Covid-19 mitigation requirements.  These requirements include vaccination, masks, testing, and participating in Penn’s Open Pass application.  We are also asking everyone to safely space your activities, take breaks, and end rehearsals ten minutes early to add for air flow in between groups using spaces.  As a result, Platt House and the PAC Shop will also be following all of these requirements and expect nothing less from every user and group in their use of Platt House or other facilities on campus.


In addition, we strongly encourage each organization to gauge the comfort levels of their members and add any additional mitigation efforts as they see fit.  We also encourage maintaining some level of hybrid participation such as Zoom classes and meetings to offset the number of in-person activities.

All organizations planning any in-person performing arts activities should designate at least two Health Marshalls again to ensure these rules and guidelines are being followed while indoors. This applies to rehearsal, performance, tech, and any other group activities. Please see below for more specific information. Please complete this form to register at least two members of your group who will serve as Health Marshalls. 

We will be in touch with additional guidelines for performances in the coming weeks. 

Failure to comply with these regulations could result in loss of space usage in our facilities, being reported to the University’s Covid response team, and possibly demerits for groups within PAC. 

Please complete activities in the safest ways possible to hopefully keep them in person. If group members are uncomfortable with in-person activities, their membership status should not be jeopardized, and groups should find ways to make their activities accessible.

Be sure all members of your groups/parties are aware of all the regulations above and that everyone adheres to them. 

Please note: these protocols are per current University guidance. Regulations could change at any time. Please keep an eye on any communication related to Covid protocols. 

We will keep providing guidance on how to best follow these rules, but please comply.  We want to stay in this together.

Sincerely,
 
Laurie 
Megan
Sara
Amanda 
Michelle

Stopping the Hate and Starting to Heal


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Stopping the Hate and Starting to Heal: Living With and Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
An Invitation to a Guided Session of Healing, Processing, and Community-Building for Penn Asian and Asian American Alumni, Graduate/Professional Students, Undergraduate Students, Faculty, Post-Docs, and Staff
In these challenging times University of Pennsylvania Asian Alumni Networks (UPAAN), Penn Spectrum, International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS), Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), Undergraduate Assemblies (UA), Graduate Student Center (GSC), Pan-Asian Faculty & Staff Association (PAFSA) and Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH), in partnership with Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), Special Services, Restorative Practices @ Penn, and Penn Global have come together to offer a healing, processing, and community building space for Asians & Asian Americans who have experienced or are concerned about anti-Asian bias or harassment related to COVID-19. This pandemic, and the hateful rhetoric which has sprung up around it have directly and indirectly harmed many in our community – the Circle will be an opportunity to process with others who have similar experiences and support one another as a community.
These Circle spaces are an opportunity for people with direct lived experiences of anti-Asian racism, bias, or harassment to share their stories and be in community with others who have similar experiences.
Faculty session
Wednesday 3/17, 12:00 PM -1:30 PM ET, Facilitators: Dr. Anh Le (faculty) & Dr. Rupa Pillai  (faculty)
Staff session
Thursday 3/18, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET, Facilitators: Rae Chaloult (staff) & Peter Van Do (staff)
Undergraduate Student sessions
Saturday 3/20, Time: TBD (2pm or 3pm ET), Facilitators: Kevin Park (young alum) and Qingrong Ji (undergraduate student)
Tuesday 3/30, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM ET, Facilitators: Sue Yee Chen (young alum) and Jun Li (alum)
Alumni sessions
Wednesday 3/24, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM ET, Facilitators: Ling Yeh (alum) and Phil Kim (alum)
Graduate & Professional Student sessions
Thursday 3/25, 10:00 AM -11:30 AM ET, Facilitators: Vivien Yiu (graduate/professional student) & Linshuang Lu (alum)
Thursday 3/25, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM ET, Facilitators: Richard Le (alum/staff) & April Zhou (graduate/professional student)
Registration link for this event is available at our dialogue series website: http://bit.ly/STOPPINGHATE
You will receive the meeting link to your session of choice upon registration.
Please join us to gather with others with similar experiences to heal, build, and be together.

Stopping the Hate and Starting to Heal

Thursday, March 18th, 8:00 PM – 9:30 PM ET
ANTI-RACISM & MENTAL WELLNESS WORKSHOP w/ Dr. Ramani
Anti-Racism & Mental Wellness Workshop: Turning off the Gaslights and Illuminating Brave
 
Dr. Ramani Durvasula (MedCircle, SxSW, TEDx, the Red Table Talk, the Today Show, Oxygen, Investigation Discovery) is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, CA and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and the Founder and CEO of LUNA Education, Training & Consulting, a company.
 
Registration link for this event is available at our dialogue series website:
http://bit.ly/STOPPINGHATE

Message from Platt House and the PAC Shop regarding Anti-Asian and Anti-American Acts of Violence


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Platt House and the PAC Shop join the University community in condemning anti-Asian and anti-Asian American acts of violence, including the recent attacks in Atlanta. We want to reiterate that as a department at the University, we support you and stand with you in solidarity against these abhorrent and violent actions of racism and white supremacy. 

We are so grateful to our colleagues in the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH), Penn Global, and members of the Task Force on Support to Asian and Asian American Students and Scholars (TAAAS) for their work on addressing this ongoing crisis. Please visit the TAAAS website to learn more about this work and the FlattenTheHate campaign.

Additionally, PAACH and Penn Global are offering the upcoming opportunities to engage:

  • Turning off the Gaslights and Illuminating Brace Spaces – Anti-Racism & Mental Wellness Workshop featuring Dr. Ramani Durvasula
    Thursday, 3/18, 8pm-9:30pm ET
    Register here: http://bit.ly/STOPPINGHATE

  • Stopping the Hate and Starting to Heal: Living With and Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Restorative Practice Circles for the Penn Asian & Asian American Communities
    Circles for Undergrad, Grad, & Professional Students, Faculty, Staff, Post-Docs, Faculty, Alumni
    Dates and Registration link available here: https://paachatupenn.ticketleap.com/

More information on these programs can be found below.

Platt House is hosting a Performing Arts Anti-Racist workshop for interested students in April. For more details, and to sign up, please visit our site: https://upenn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6kTMjiFAn2XTs8K

We send our support to our Asian and Asian American community members. We see you, and we are here to support you.

Sincerely,
Platt House & PAC Shop Staff

Laurie McCall
Megan Edelman
James Grant
Sara Outing
Amanda Labonte
Michelle Moller

Stephanie R. McNeal, W’91


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

They say that everyone has a soundtrack to their lives, and I am very grateful that. If I am ever challenged to put my official playlist together, “there will be lots of references to my Penn years in that collection.

Although I’ve been an artsy chick for my entire life, it is at Penn where I officially discovered that my talents were more than a fluke or a hobby. After struggling socially and academically first semester freshman year, it was my involvement in arts groups: Penn Gospel Choir, Penn Black Arts League and, eventually, The Inspiration that gave me the support, the confidence and the belief in my talents to know that any challenge was surmountable. They provided a platform for me to shine, when I felt dim and unsure. And whether acting, arranging, directing or singing, I discovered that I could lead. I could shine, in my own special way. I didn’t have to be the only star in the sky, but I could be among them, confidently.

Since graduating from Penn, I have used those creative gifts and talents honed as an undergraduate in every professional position I have accepted throughout my career. From the corporate world of marketing and advertising, to classrooms where I have encouraged other teens to write, act, sing, create a space for themselves. In my job on talk radio, where daily I get to debate, educate and explore what’s going on in the world and the role we all play in building solutions. And yes, on stage…where I have been blessed to act in some amazing productions, or record my own music and travel internationally to share it with fans. Every one of my successes can be attributed to talents that were passed down to me from birth, but were fine-tuned through my experiences as a student at Penn and my active involvement in the arts groups that flourish on campus.

As a Platt House Advisory Board Member, it is my distinct hope that I can continue to create opportunities for other youth to blossom at Penn as I did. To stand in that spotlight, shine and find their uniquely special voice.

Kristin Marra, E’14


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

“Oh, you play the flute in the Penn Band! How is that? I would imagine it’s a lot of fun.” I heard some variation of this statement in just about every job interview I had my senior year.  I am a Mechanical Design Engineer at an Aerospace company on Long Island, NY; a job that has absolutely nothing to do with music or flute-playing. However, it’s no surprise that I was asked this in my engineering interviews.  Music, as is the case for arts in general, is a cross-major, cross-career discussion point. To an interviewer, it reveals an applicant who is well-rounded and interested in more than his or her exact field of study.  I am grateful that I was able to continue pursuing the arts at Penn, regardless of my Engineering major.  Music truly is a combination of creativity and structure, a balance that is vital is any job setting.  Through being involved in PAC, I gained communication and leadership skills that are directly applicable to working in a corporate environment. Playing in bands and taking music classes helped me understand the importance of details in the scope of a large project, whether that be a song, performance, or an engineering design.  Most importantly, the wonderful, quirky, smart, sometimes insane, passionate friends I made through the arts at.


Penn showed me what it means to put 100% into any task.  While I may not be in an arts-related career, the skills I gained through involvement in the arts are used in my work every day.

Joan Harrison ’81


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Hailing from a family of six children in Westbury, New York, as a freshman Harrison felt a bit at sea. But in her first semester she was blown away by a Mask & Wig show. She knew it was open only to men and had the idea of creating Penn’s first performing arts group for women. She stayed on campus that summer to lay the groundwork. That September, with the help of her roommates Amy Albert and Barbara Finklestein, Harrison founded a group she called Bloomers, named for the journalist and suffragette Amelia Bloomer. The group was the first all-female musical sketch comedy troupe in the nation.

At the time, Penn was less than 30% female, and Bloomers was the only creative environment on campus where women could take charge in writing comedy and showcase their comedy talents. The crew and band were also female, and remain so. Harrison directed the first show, “Fruit of the Bloomers,” which debuted in March 1979, and fell in love with the creative process. So she shelved the idea of going to law school, and started interning at television networks in Philadelphia. After graduation, she went on to build a long career in television mostly as a network programmer in Los Angeles.

Founding Bloomers greatly influenced Harrison’s career, and in 2015 she wanted to give back in a meaningful way. She founded the Bloomers Alumnae Association hoping to solidify the Bloomers community–there are more than 500 former Bloomers–and give the the troupe financial support. She and a handful of her Bloomers classmates have come together as if they never stopped being friends. They vacation together and talk constantly.

And the relationship between the alumnae association and the current troupe is also blooming. There is an annual Alumnae Retreat during which alums draw upon their professional expertise and life experience to help younger alumnae learn practical skills to ease into life after Penn. Harrison says that the younger Bloomers give the alumnae “hope for the future in these trying times.” The alumnae especially admire the “fierceness of our students.” She thinks that there is “something to be said about learning to manage fear and instilling confidence when you do comedy on stage…when you write it, when you perform it, when you contribute to producing it.”

As for advice for budding artists, Harrison says “practice, practice, practice” meaning: keep writing, keep performing and keep refining your talents, especially in a competitive field like comedy. Harrison has complete confidence in Penn grads trying to make it in Entertainment. She said that pretty much everyone finds their footing, and praises the LA alumni network in Entertainment for how it supports young grads.

Interview with InVersion Theatre


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Tell us a little about yourselves, your hometowns, and your majors and graduation years.

  • Johnny Lloyd: Asheville, NC; International Relations, 2011. I’m a playwright and producer based in Manhattan, NY. I am Producing Director for InVersion Theatre and currently an MFA Candidate in Playwriting at Columbia University studying under Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang.
  • Rebecca LeVine: Longmont, CO; English, 2012. I live in Brooklyn and work in business development for an ebook startup. I also do some freelance graphic and web design work.
  • Will Steinberger: Philadelphia, PA; English, 2011. I’m a theatre director, which means Johnny, Rebecca, and I have a baby together, called InVersion Theatre, that has produced seven full length plays since graduating from Penn, as well as numerous events, short plays, and assorted theatrical happenings. I also work often as an assistant director, dramaturg, and producer/arts administrator, mainly in New York, where I live.

What groups were you involved with during your time at Penn?

  • ALL: INTUITONS!!!!
  • JL: Counterparts and Mortar Board and a bunch of other TAC-e groups.
  • RL: I dabbled in various activities, but TAC-e was my main thing, mostly acting, some directing, a bit of prop designing (prop designing is the best). I’m proud-slash-frightened to say I did at least one production every semester.
  • WS: PennQuest, Friars.

How do you feel like the arts at Penn shaped or affected your career paths?

  • JL: I really didn’t realize I could go into the arts until I was at Penn. Being able to create relationships with my fellow classmates opened up what theater meant for me and provided connections, friendships, and collaborators that have lasted through today.
  • RL: Doing theater was too magical to ever give up completely.
  • WS: I met Johnny and Rebecca, and I wouldn’t be making theatre the way I am today if it weren’t for the relationships I have with them. Penn also has a phenomenal DIY ethos, which encourages those scrappy enough to make theatre.

What are your favorite arts-related memories from your time at Penn?

  • JL: I’m not allowed to say the parties, right?
  • RL: Does that mean I’m not allowed to say the parties either? In all seriousness though, quite a few of my closest friends today are people I did shows with at Penn. Over the course of six or eight weeks of rehearsals, you spend all this time together, you have all these emotional experiences, you’re collaborating on this unique and beautiful thing. And you laugh endlessly, even (especially?) in rehearsal rooms for very, very dark shows.
  • WS: Definitely the parties.

How did you start InVersion Theatre? What did that process look like?

  • JL: The way I remember it, Will and I were living together and wanted to do a show together after graduating, and because iNtuitons had a relationship with Philly Fringe, we felt very comfortable doing a show in that festival. Rebecca came on soon after (as did another one of our college collaborators, Reni Ellis, who was our company manager for our first show). And after that, we kind of just kept on making plays together. It’s been easy because we’ve had a working relationship for ten years, but also because we would hang out even if we weren’t working together constantly.
  • RL: I was a year behind Johnny and Will at Penn (a fact I remind them of often), so I was a senior when they were getting InVersion off the ground. In the spring of 2012, Will asked me if I had the time/interest to dramaturg their production of Miss Julie. Seeking any excuse to put off writing my thesis, I eagerly signed on. Following graduation, I realized just how little I wanted to give up doing theater with my friends, so at some point in there, I finagled my way into the role of Official InVersion Dramaturg. Seven years later, here we are!
  • WS: It was a lot more like what we did together at Penn then unlike what we did together, which is a credit to how TAC-e and the University as a whole prepared us for art-making.

What is the key to your success as a team?  Do you get on each other’s nerves at all?

  • JL: When we’re at our best, we’re honest with each other about how we feel and what we want to do. You can’t not get on your collaborators’ nerves, but you can be honest about how you’re feeling and learn how to listen instead of trying to bury those feelings or taking feedback personally, and I think a lot of our success is because we’re constantly working to be honest and open in our communications.
  • RL: Weird question. Will Steinberger, Johnny Lloyd, and Rebecca LeVine have never gotten on anyone’s nerves, ever.
  • WS: Cry in public, not private. That’s our rule.

What is InVersion Theatre up to now and do you have individual upcoming projects you’re working on?

  • ALL: We’re gearing up for round 3 of our We Read Books series in partnership with The Tankin which we commission 6 playwrights to create 10-minute plays inspired by a classic text we’ve selected (Beowulf and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” so far). We’re also at work on a new app-play about environmental catastrophe, set in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Oh, and we’re writing an original musical adaptation of Dracula, set in Silicon Valley, with music/lyrics by Andrew Underberg, who did not go to Penn.
  • WS: I’m directing a play at Columbia right now and producing an off-Broadway play in the fall.

What is a piece of advice you would give to a student who is interested in pursuing the arts beyond their college career?

  • JL: Penn is small. T
    he world is big. Get ready for rejection, and learn how to welcome it.
  • RL: Creating and presenting art in the real world almost always requires money–for rehearsal and performance spaces, for costumes and sets and my beloved props, for marketing and publicity, for the labor of all the people working alongside you. At Penn, we were incredibly fortunate to have spaces and budgets that appeared as if by magic and the expertise of University employees whose salaries weren’t our responsibility. We got to imagine that money and art-making were unrelated–which, outside a supportive institution like Penn, is not remotely the case. You spend a lot of time fundraising. You have to ask a lot of your supporters. I’d advise someone seeking a career in the arts to be ready for that.
  • WS: Remake the art market; don’t let it remake you. In other words, don’t lose the spark that got you jazzed about your work in the first place.

Why are the arts important to you?

  • JL: When you’re in the arts, you don’t just get to show the human condition–you get to interpret it and take things that you think might just apply to you and find out that they actually apply to so many people. And opening up and finding common ground with others through such a vulnerable process is so inspiring and exciting.
  • RL: We live in dark times. Making and experiencing and thinking about art gets us a little closer to the light.
  • WS: Nothing matters more than meaningful personal encounters. Art sculpts the spaces and experiences in which these encounters happen.

Ramita Ravi, C’17


Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Hailing from a small town near Pittsburgh, PA, Ramita Ravi spent her undergraduate years at Penn studying Health and Societies and dancing up a storm! She served as the Artistic Director and Chair of Arts House Dance Company and as the Chair of the Dance Arts Council (DAC). She danced with Penn Thillana and was a member of Friars, Osiris, and Oracle senior societies. Ramita was a PennArts Pre-Orientation Leader, and she will be returning to Platt House later this month to teach the Dance Masterclass to a whole new group of first year PennArts students! After performing on So You Think You Can Dance on the day of her graduation, Ramita moved to New York City, signed with Clear Talent Group, and now pursues dance as a full-time career. In addition to SYTYCD, Ramita has performed on VicelandGood Morning America, a Fosse/Verdon commercial, and the premiere of I Am the Night, a new TNT show. But that’s not all! Ramita recently performed in Aida at the Engeman Theater, and she has toured with two Bollywood shows: Mystic India and Bollywood Boulevard. Ramita teaches dance at competitions and companies across the country. She recently launched her own dance company, Project Convergence, which unites classical Indian dance and tap. The members of Project Convergence have done events at Buzzfeed, Spotify, and Lincoln Center; they hosted major dance brand Capezio’s first Holi event; and they are artists-in-residence at the American Tap Dance Foundation.

 

Looking back on her time at Penn, Ramita says: “I don’t know that I would have been a professional dancer if I hadn’t gone to Penn, truly.” As Penn has no academic dance program, Ramita was hesitant when she matriculated. However, her experiences with the dance, performing arts, and Platt House communities provided her the opportunities to not only dance, but also choreograph, develop themes, incorporate videos, run a show, handle administrative duties, and manage a company. She learned the business side of dance, while building her artistic craft. As she grapples with booking dance space in NYC, completing contracts, and developing a company, Ramita credits learning 100% of those skills from her time at Penn. She also treasures the collaborative experiences she gained at the University, working with singing groups, videographers, photographers, and many other dance groups with different cultural backgrounds, goals, and missions. Ramita shares warm memories of the Emily Sachs Dance Benefit, an annual event bringing together every DAC group, strengthening that community and working together for a greater cause. She also remembers working with a group of dancers after her sophomore year to create a summer workshop series, which would become the Penn Summer Dance Series. This program grew to include hundreds of people during Ramita’s time at Penn and continues today. For Ramita, the fond memories live on: “I have so many’”my whole life was performing arts at Penn.”

Ramita’s recent work has had her traveling to Boston, Hershey, Austin, DC, and even Philly! Looking forward, she is getting ready for lots of auditions, and she is incredibly excited about her upcoming plans for Project Convergence, including the collaboration with the American Tap Dance Foundation, the hub for tap dance companies across the country, as this is the first time the Foundation has brought in classical Indian Dance. Ramita shares that the arts are important to her because they are deeply intertwined with her identity: “I grew up in Pittsburgh in a small town, and I had access to American dance from a really young age where no one looked like me. And I also had access to Indian dance where everyone looked like me. Bridging those two worlds and feeling comfortable in both spaces was something I could only do through dance because I was neither all Indian or all American. I’m just both. That’s how it works. That’s what my identity is.” In her work moving forward, Ramita wants to create more spaces that allow people to express their stories and feel comfortable in their own shoes, their own voices, their own skin. For students who are interested in pursuing the arts beyond college, Ramita reminds them to own the multidimensional aspects of themselves: “The more you apply the multidimensional aspects of your personality and what you gained at Penn, the more successful I think you’ll be in this career. I would just say continue to be awesome and well-rounded and multidimensional, and it’ll take you really far.”

Photo Credit 1: Mike Esperanza
Photo Credit 2: Kevin Wang