Tag Archives: Paris

The Week in Travel (12/7/12)

The world of travel moves fast!   Let’s keep up–together.   On Fridays,  Traveling IQ curates the highlights from the past week:

Mural of Prince Harry Shirtless in London’s Manbar gay club

*Royal babe, indeed!   Refusing to be overshadowed by his future niece or nephew, a mural of a shirtless Prince Harry now permanently hangs in the London gay club, Manbar  (via Evening Standard).

*Not without controversy, “Europe’s first gay-friendly mosque” opened in Paris this week–welcoming gay Muslims and allowing men and women to pray together (via France 24).

*Need a new place to lay your head?  Stay at the best new hotels to have opened in 2012 (via Fodor’s).

*In gay destination wedding news: on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled unanimously for same-sex marriage to be recognized in the entire country (via Salon); and very early Thursday morning, Washington State began issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples (via Seattle Times).

*Luxury hotels want to serve you during daylight too, offering day-only rates for your business or pleasure (via CNN).

*Tall and tan and young and lovely, the boy from Ipanema goes walking; and when he passes, Grindr, Scruff and Manhunt go…ahhh!  Yes, in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil is unveiling a new Wi-Fi network, offering internet access on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro (via Business Wire).

What did I miss?  Share your favorite travel news in the comments below or by posting on the Traveling IQ Facebook page.

(Photo via Evening Standard)


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Au Revoir PIFA

After 25 days, 1,500 artists and more than 135 events, the City of Brotherly Love bids adieu to the Paris-inspired Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). But not without a bonne soirée! The inaugural festival responsible for bringing local and international artists—in almost every field imaginable—to Philadelphia is transforming The Avenue of the Arts into a Parisian Street Fair on Saturday, April 30, with French street vendors and performers, a grass park with a children’s area, musical entertainment all day long, and a giant Ferris Wheel. Completely free to the public, the street festival will last from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with live acts on two stages, international food, and the pièce de résistance, a “celestial art” acrobatic performance by La Compagnie Transe Express, presented 100 feet in the air.

La Compagnie Transe Express

Revisit Traveling IQ’s sponsored coverage of the festival that has exhilarated Philadelphia’s cultural community by clicking here, and stay updated on the events and festivities of PIFA’s final week by following the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts on Facebook and Twitter.

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From Cuba to PIFA

Commissioned by the Arden Theatre as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), the play Wanamaker’s Pursuit tells the story of a young Nathan Wanamaker’s arrival in Paris in search of the latest fashions for his family’s department store, and the unexpected discoveries of his journey. Though a work a fiction, the play is inspired by historical events and characters of early twentieth century Paris, and the story of Wanamaker’s, the first modern department store in Philadelphia and, arguably, in the United States.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with the playwright, Rogelio Martinez, and learn about his own path to PIFA.

Traveling IQ:  First of all I’m very excited to chat with you because we are both from the same small town in Cuba.  For all I know we played together as children… Sancti Spíritus is not that big of a place.
RM:  Yes, it’s very rare.  I always tell people you may meet other Cubans, but I’m the only Cuban you will ever meet who admits he’s not from Havana.

Well, now there are two of us.  How old were you when you left?
I came (to the U.S.) when I was nine, but I can remember Sancti Spíritus very clearly.

At what point did you get interested in theatre?
My family settled in Union City, NJ.  At the time it had the second biggest Cuban population, after Miami.  I think I got interested when I actually went to the theatre for the first time, in New York.  I was always interested in film because as a little boy in Cuba I went to the movies all the time.  And suddenly I went to see a play and I realized I was much more interested in the live experience, in how audiences respond instantly.  You can go see a comedic movie and a lot of the laughter is held inside.  But you see a funny play and the laughter pours out.  There’s something about how the audience becomes one.  It’s one of those few moments where the world comes together.  And there’s nothing like it.

What was that first play?
Hmmm… That answer becomes progressively more embarrassing.  It was Speed the Plow by David Mamet.  And I’m not embarrassed because of David Mamet… I think he’s an amazing writer.  But the reason my mom took me was because Madonna was in it.  I didn’t know what I was walking into.  I just knew that Madonna was in the play.  And I walked out and my head was abuzz. Everything was like “wow.”  I’d just seen something remarkable.

So Madonna is responsible for getting you involved in theatre?
You know, often times we writers wonder why they bring someone from Hollywood. And I think we have to look at the positive side.  It gets people in the seats that would not otherwise have come.  And that creates new audiences—or you hope it does.  I’m not saying that everyone will venture out and see more theatre but some will.  And that’s important.

Well, that’s definitely one—good—way to look at it.
It’s a tough business and the only way to stay in it for a while is to remain positive… I think.

How did you get involved with PIFA?
Well, Terry (the director) and I met working on another of my plays and he asked if had any ideas for a piece about Paris?  The festival was celebrating 100 years, so I started exploring Paris 1911, and I found those limitations really interesting.  There’s something really exciting for a writer to have boundaries because you can walk right up to the ledge and push the boundaries of the play.

How was the Wanamaker connection born?
The Wanamaker name has always been synonymous with Philly.  So Terry and I started talking about the idea of a buyer for the store, a fictional heir that goes to Paris during the most exciting time.  And he meets Paul Poiret, one of the greatest designers of the twentieth century, along with Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso; and he meets them at a moment in time before we knew them, before they became who they’d eventually become.  And I think that’s also an exciting element of the play: you see people becoming iconic.

How did the city of Paris affect the character of Wanamaker?
It’s the story of learning new rules, new languages…understanding how cultures work. Here we have a young man arriving in Paris and the rules are completely different than what he is used to.  He is master of one world but here he’s in a world where he has no control.  And in a sense that’s the story of anyone who arrives here from a different country.  I think that’s what makes the play have a universal appeal.

Rogelio Martinez, playwright

*Wanamaker’s Pursuit runs March 31-May 22 at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. Click here for tickets.

For more information follow the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned to Traveling IQ for continued coverage, with PIFA’s support.

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PIFA: Fashion Forward

Paris is a fashion capital of the world.  To honor the artistry responsible for clothing royalty, supermodels and mere mortals, the Paris-inspired Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), explores Parisian fashion—past and present.

First, Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design presents “Brave New World:  Fashion and Freedom, 1911-1919.”  See how trendsetters abandoned the corset, shortened both hair and hemline, and replaced the subdued Edwardian color palate with fashionable black and bright colors.  The exhibit displays historic garment and accessories from the Drexel Historic Costume Collection at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery from April 7-May 7.  Click here more information; admission is free.

Then on April 8, contemporary couture comes to the Kimmel Center’s Commonwealth Plaza.  This Paris-inspired fashion show will feature new looks from professional designers and top student designers, featuring Carmelita Martell, Sarah Van Aken, Jaames Nelson, Katie Ermilio, Bela Shehu, Kristin Haskins-Simms, Priscilla Costa, Janice Martin and Melanie Brandon.  Additionally, Philadelphia native couture designer Ralph Rucci will receive the Visionary Award for Fashion.  Tickets range from $25-$100 and can be purchased by clicking here.

For more information follow the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned to Traveling IQ for continued coverage, with PIFA’s support.

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Josephine Baker: Free to Be

Josephine Baker

“One day I realized I was living in a country where I was afraid to be black.  It was only a country for white people.  Not black.  So I left.  I had been suffocating in the United States… A lot of us left, not because we wanted to leave, but because we couldn’t stand it anymore… I felt liberated in Paris.”

Josephine Baker’s style and beauty garnered names such as the Black Venus, Black Pearl and Creole Goddess.  Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1906, at a time when racial segregation prevented her talents from reaching a wider audience in the United States, Josephine (quoted above) found artistic and social freedoms within the integrated Parisian society.

Achieving instant fame after her performance at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in 1925, she became a celebrated artist, cultural icon, and eventually, French national hero for gathering information during World War II.  She adopted 12 orphans from around the world, who she called the “Rainbow Tribe,” starred in films and theatrical productions, and was one of the most photographed women in the world.  Her success would not have been possible in her home country.

Honoring the accomplishments of Josephine and other African American contemporaries, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson and Henry Ossawa Tanner, the African American Museum in Philadelphia presents “Free to Be: The Artistry and Impact of African Americans in Paris, 1900-1940.”  Exhibiting from April 7, as part of the Paris-inspired Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), “Free to Be” explores the unique experiences of African Americans who created art in Paris throughout the early twentieth century.

For more information follow the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts on Facebook and Twitter, and stay tuned to Traveling IQ for continued coverage, with PIFA’s support.

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From World’s Fair to Art Festival

Paris, Texas

Paris, France

Built to celebrate the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to stand for only 20 years. Now, explored by millions of people and considered the “most-visited paid monument in the world,” the Eiffel Tower has become the unequivocal symbol of Paris and all things Français.

Over the last century, the iconic figure has spawned replicas throughout the United States, bringing the spirit of France within our own borders: a half-scale version at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas; a cowboy-hat wearing homage in the town of Paris, Texas; and this spring, the latest Eiffel will tower over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Commissioned by the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), which is inspired by Paris 1910-1920, Philly’s tower will infuse the lobby of the Kimmel Center with a certain je ne sais quoi. Housed under the glass roof of the indoor Commonwealth Plaza, designer Mimi Lien will unveil the 3-ton, 80+ foot tower with its 6,000 light bulbs, on April 8. (See image below)

“The Paris theme was a vision for the festival as a conversation between many different art forms, much as the cafes of Paris just after the turn of the century served as meeting places between painters, poets, composers, and choreographers,” says Ms. Lien. “Rather than transplant the streets of Paris to the Kimmel Center, I thought it would be more exciting to evoke the spirit of Parisian artistic innovation by activating the volume of space in the existing building, which has a pretty unique scale, and infusing it with the buzz of energy that was so prevalent in Paris 1911.”

Mimi Lien's Eiffel Tower, courtesy of PIFA

Stay tuned as Traveling IQ explores the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts through May 1, with PIFA’s support.

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PIFA: Paris… Philly

Photo courtesy of PIFA

How can one decade affect the course of history?  More than a century later, the arts—music, theatre, visual, dance, design—borne in Paris between 1910 and 1920 inspire a new art movement across the Atlantic.  From April 7 to May 1, the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), introduced to Traveling IQ readers last week, draws on the collaboration, creativity and innovation of this artistically essential decade.

Nowhere are these principles more evident than in the tornado of talent known as the Ballets Russes.  By 1910, less than one year into its infancy, the Ballets Russes in Paris was preparing to launch some of the greatest artists of the past century.  In the eye of the storm, stood the company’s director, Serge Diaghilev, often called “the greatest theater producer who ever lived,” for his ability to recruit the most exciting artists of the time.  Imagine a company that can commission the music of Stravinsky, Ravel and Strauss, to be choreographed by Nijinsky, Balanchine and Massine, with sets and costumes designed by Picasso, Matisse and Chanel.

Inspired by the wave of collaboration and creativity rolling through Paris throughout this decade, PIFA welcomes a modern generation of artists to create a new cultural revolution.  “One hundred years ago, Paris was the epicenter of creativity,” says festival executive director J. Edward Cambron.  “What happened during that time shaped how we defined the arts throughout the 20th century, and now, Philadelphia’s cultural community is poised to fuel the same spirit of ingenious creativity.”

Stay tuned as Traveling IQ explores the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts through May 1, with PIFA’s support.

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