Art & Culture

Performing Arts Council

Performing Arts Council

The arts are a vibrant and integral part of the University of Pennsylvania's culture, and The Performing Arts Council (PAC) offers you the opportunity to participate in more than 40 different student-run performance organizations. From dance to spoken word, jazz to stand-up comedy, theatre, a cappella and more. Student Performing Arts is one of the most diverse and exciting communities at Penn. With more than 60 performances a year, Penn is the perfect place to discover or fine tune your writing, directing, design, choreography, technical and of course, performance skills!

The Performing Arts Council (PAC) is organized into four subcommittees: Dance, Theatre, A Cappella, and Singers Musicians and Comedians (which also includes spoken word). PAC and its advisory office, University Life Arts Initiatives, offer training workshops and master classes throughout the year, alumni programs, career training, a summer theatre internship scholarship, as well as resources on the performing arts in Philadelphia.

A Cappella Council (ACK)

The Performing Arts Council includes 12 groups comprising its A Cappella subcommittee. A cappella is a genre of music performed without instruments where all parts are produced vocally. Penn's dynamic and talented a cappella groups entertain Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, are featured on the annual Best of Collegiate A Cappella album, and garner exceptional reviews from the Recorded A Cappella Review Board for the albums that they produce.

In addition to enterting competitions, recording studio albums, and performing in about 2 large shows on campus each academic year, ACK groups use their talents to engage in community service projects and travel to venues around the world for performance opportunities. However, aside from the work that groups do individually, it is certainly a rarity to attend a University-sponsored event or a student-run fund raiser that does not include performances by multiple Penn a cappella groups. ACK has grown to become a staple of the Penn community and is representative of the University at large, with its commitment to both diversity and excellence.

Dance Arts Council (DAC)

The Dance Arts Council subcommittee consists of all PAC groups whose main mission is performing in the dance genre of the performing arts. Currently DAC consists of 13 groups with focuses ranging from classical technique to cultural dance and everything in between. Each group performs once or twice a year on campus in addition to performing many times in the Philadelphia area and at guest performances. Although well versed in many styles, dancers here at Penn continue to improve by taking classes at local studios or by hiring professional dancers to teach technique classes for the company.

Classes combined with numerous rehearsals for shows take up a lot of time for the groups, but in their spare time, groups often teach master classes for the Penn community in order to share their talent and help educate others about their specialty form of dance. This is not only a wonderful way for the dance groups to learn from each other, but it also builds quite a sense of community. In January, DAC groups participate in the Emily Sachs Dance benefit – an event that raises money for asthma research as a tribute to a talented Penn dancer who suffered from severe asthma. The benefit not only raises money for a great cause but helps unite the DAC groups – as all dance groups not only perform in the benefit, but they also each volunteer to help with other aspects of the show.

Singers, Musicians, and Comedians (SMAC)

Out of the four subdivisions of PAC, SMAC is probably the most diverse. Consisting of 11 unique groups, this subcommittee provides various opportunities to express yourself, whether through vocal performance, instrumentation, comedic repartee, or spoken word. This hodgepodge of groups creates an extraordinary community, providing a chance to learn about groups that are different from your own and perhaps become involved in new creative outlets.

While Penn Band, Penn Jazz Ensemble and Penn Sargam specialize in instrumental music, you can also find various playing opportunities in several other SMAC groups who either have their own band or require accompaniment. These groups include Mask & Wig, Bloomers, Glee Club, Penn Singers and the New Spirit of Penn Gospel Choir. If it is comedy that sparks your interest, you can perform stand-up with Simply Chaos, improv in Without a Net, or sketch with Mask & Wig or Bloomers. The Glee Club and Penn Singers specialize in vocal theatrical performance while the New Spirit of Gospel Choir provides a more spiritual expression of vocal talent. If you still haven't found your niche, take a look at the Excelano Project, Penn's only spoken word group.

Theatre Arts Council (TAC-e)

TAC-e is one of four subcommittees under the Performing Arts Council (PAC). PAC is a kind of union of approximately 42 different student performing groups, and PAC groups get priority performance and rehearsal spaces among other benefits. There are also non-PAC groups, including a theatre group focused solely on works by Shakespeare. TAC-e consists of six theatre groups, each of which is made up of an all-student administrative board that runs auditions, organizes production staffs, and generally manages every show that the group produces (normally between one and three each school year). Each TAC-e show has a unique cast and production staff, which contribute to the culture of each TAC-e group and to the TAC-e community at large.

All six groups have a unique mission, though their styles or genres do overlap sometimes. Missions are based on cultural and ethnic relevance, social relevance, dedication to community service, experimental forms of expression, student vs. professional direction, Penn traditions and history, target audience, and more. These missions guide show choice and the overall culture of each group and are not meant as exclusionary boundaries. Visit each group's website (available on the Theatre Arts Council's homepage) in order to learn more about each group's mission and culture as well as what shows and events they will be producing this year.

All six TAC-e groups participate in two collaborative productions each school year: Small Fall and the One Acts Festival. Small Fall is a full length production organized over the summer and performed in early September, while One Acts is a collection of short one act plays organized in between fall and spring semesters and performed in late January or early February. Both productions provide great opportunities to experience Penn student theatre as an audience member or for any student to try a new aspect of theatre themselves, either in the spotlight or behind the scenes.