‘Petrushka' Opens the PIFA Festival

After years of planning, and months devoted to getting the word out the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, which officially begins tonight with the Opening Night Gala, got off to a rousing start yesterday with a special pre-fest performance of Basil Twist's 'Petrushka.'

The idea of the festival is to link Philly in 2011 with the cultural arts flavor of 1911 Paris, and what better way to do that than with a performance of the famed Ballets Russes' 1911 production of Petrushka, with elaborate puppets as the principal dancers? Only, it's not some kid-friendly 'Punch & Judy' show, Basil Twist takes his work to an entirely different level, with beautiful choreography musically accompanied by twin Russian pianists Julia and Irina Elkina, and intricate, innovative life-size puppets performing with almost hypnotic subtlety and grace,

And with last night's performance, the full month of innovative performances and spectacles begins. Petrushka runs from April 7-16, tickets are $20-$30.

The Owly: Shining a spotlight on the night's defining moment. Think we're off the mark? Make your own Owly nominations by sending videos, pictures and dispatches from the field to Philadelphia@thefeast.com.

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