Perfect for perphor|mers

Meet the folks behind Perphor|m, Philly’s new arts group

Man playing guitar
Perphor|m is the new kid on the block when it comes to Philly arts groups. It seeks to bring all kinds of artists together through, classes, workshops, events and more. | Image: Zachrie Friesen

Attention all Philly performing artists: There’s a new group in town, and it wants to hear from you.

Perphor|m mobilizes and energizes “perphormance artists” to cross-pollinate in existing Philadelphia spaces, fostering a community ecology that is more connected, organized and inclusive. 

Through workshops, classes and performance exhibitions, the group hopes to create new opportunities and create a chance to bring underground artists to the forefront. Truly priding itself on ushering in the next generation of Philadelphia’s performance artists, PW recently caught up with organizers of Perphor|m to talk about its goals and upcoming events.

Talk a little about how and why the group was formed.

A question sparked [within our] this group … “Why do so many dance students leave Philly for New York after graduating from school?” [Perphor|m founder and instructor] Katherine Desimine gathered some artists and created town hall meetings for performing artists in Philly to have conversations about what they felt was missing. Those conversations put a spotlight on a few things – insularity and a lack of transparency. 

From these meetings, a group of like-minded artists came together over our shared desire for more conversations, outlets, and opportunities for more types of performing artists. We felt frustrated with the disconnect between artistic disciplines, between generations of artists, between art spaces. So we decided to be an open channel, with the goal of connecting more artists, spaces, and communities to each other, through mobilizing and energizing perphormance artists to cross-pollinate in existing spaces and communities by generating new opportunities. 

What sets your group apart from other arts organizations?

We are unique because we are a group that touches all of the creative aspects of living as an artist. At our events you can find conversations around how materials influence movement. We are a place for folks who do more than one thing. To elaborate, there are lots of arts organizations in Philly that are specifically for dancers, or specifically for musicians, etc. We are striving to open space for performance artists who don’t fit into just one of those categories, because they fit into many of those categories, or none of them! 

Ok, so who should join? Why should they join?

Our organizational structure is one of overlapping and moving circles, where you can fluidly move in and out of roles and levels of commitment/responsibility. We found that it was exhausting to create an event or put on a show because all the responsibility generally falls on the artist. We want to ease the difficulty, by working co-creatively, collaboratively, and non-hierarchically. While this is still a lot of work, it feels more sustainable.  

So what upcoming events are on the horizon for Perphor|m?

Our next event is the Lonely Artist Mingle, on Jan. 13 6-8 pm at MilkBoy. It can be hard to meet other artists, especially from other disciplines or genres. We are creating the space for cross-pollination to occur. [We invite artists to] socialize with other Philly artists of all genres and disciplines. Find a collaborator or two, or just make friends! We’ll be playing games, doing icebreakers, and there will also be time to hang out and talk. Check out our website for details. We’re also “perphorming” at The Rocky Awards at FringeArts on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. We are very honored to have been invited by the organizer, Mira Treatman, to perform at this dance awards ceremony. This ceremony is fun and goofy with surprise performances that might not be what you would expect. 

Where do you see the group going in the coming years? What are your goals?

Our big goal for 2020 is to recreate our website to become a virtual community. We want to offer lots of resources, such as a searchable artists directory, comprehensive events calendar and thought-provoking, multimedia blogs for performing artists in Philly. 

We are launching a fundraiser to help with this cost — everything Perphor|m has done until now has been solely volunteer. We are moving toward a financial structure that doesn’t rely heavily on big donors. Ultimately, we hope to continue offering co-created events for Philly artists, expanding on the events of the past and developing new ones for our community.

Perphor|m | More info or to register: infoperphorm.wixsite.com/perphorm