Questions about the mural at Philadelphia International Airport

Q: How big is the mural?
A: The mural ranges from five to seven stories tall, spanning six facades of the parking structures at the Philadelphia International Airport. At nearly 50,000 square feet, it is one of the largest murals in the world.
Q:How was the mural made?
A: How Philly Moves originated in 2008 and has involved eight days of photo sessions to date, during which JJ Tiziou has photographed over 170 dancers. Then, in 2009, How Philly Moves was selected by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program as the basis for the 50,000 square foot mural that would span half a mile of parking structures at the Philadelphia International Airport. JJ worked closely with lead muralist Jon Laidacker to translate the original design into paint. With Jon’s plans and swaths of parachute cloth resembling a supersized paint-by-number, the Mural Arts Program’s team of muralists set out to create this giant work of art, but not without the help of the Philadelphia community who joined in on a series of Community Paint Days, helping to paint over 1,500 individual panels of cloth. Installation began in spring 2011, once temperatures were consistently above 50 degrees. The Mural Arts team worked tirelessly for 4 months, installing the panels across half a mile of parking garages at the Philadelphia International Airport. The mural stands, both an emblem and celebration of art and community, welcoming residents and visitors alike through the city’s newest gateway. The mural dedication is scheduled for fall 2011. Sign up for updates!

Questions about the photo shoots

Q: How can I sign up to participate in How Philly Moves?*

A: How Philly Moves is an ongoing project; sign up for the mailing list if you’re interested in participating or finding out more about the next round of community dance photo sessions.

*Remember that we are all a part of How Philly Moves, regardless of whether you sign up for this project. Take a moment to find joy in your neighbors; that’s what this is all about.

Q: Can I participate if I’m not a professional dancer?
A: No worries! If you self-define as a dancer, whether in a club, in your kitchen, or in a social way, we would love to have you. HPM celebrates dance of all genres and styles. However HPM photo shoots are for solo dancers or a maximum of two people (no groups).
Q: What if I’m differently-abled? I use a wheelchair/crutches/etc, but still consider myself a dancer.
A: OF COURSE! Considering yourself a dancer is the only qualification for this project. You are welcome to participate, no matter what your range of motion, age, background, body type, style of dance, etc. If you self-identify as a dancer, then you are a dancer, and this project is about you.
Q: I’m under the age of 18. Can I still participate?
A: Yes! But you’ll need a parent or guardian to come with you and fill out the release form when you participate in a shoot.
Q: Can you include [my favorite famous dancer] in the project?
A: We would be thrilled for [your favorite famous dancer] to sign up to participate in the project. But we will be equally thrilled by each other person that signs up. It’s important to note that this project is not about celebrity. This project is about the fact that dance is a universal joy that anyone can take part in, so everyone is welcome to participate. It’s also worth noting that this project is not about history; it is about the diversity of dance in Philly today as photographed by JJ, so we won’t be including any historical imagery or accepting photo submissions.
Q: What if my type of dance requires a particular location, large group of people, particular props, etc?
A: We realize that some dances are site-specific, or require large groups, but there are some constraints to the photo sessions: Participants will be photographed individually or in pairs against a black backdrop. This project does not attempt to be the complete document of all dance in Philadelphia, but rather a broad celebration of different types of movement. You are welcome to bring a partner and imagine that you two are part of a larger line dance, but we can not photograph large groups, or do other shoots on location as part of this project. (You can always talk to JJ about hiring him separately, but those images will not be included in this project.) As to props, you can bring them along as long as they are safe and will not damage the location. Hula hoops and scarves are ok, flaming poi and sharp swords are not unless we specifically plan for them.
Q: Can you do outreach in other ways? The participation info is only online and in English, which immediately excludes some people.

A: We hope that that’s where you’ll help us out. Dance is universal, but we’re well aware of the issues created by digital and language barriers. Due to financial and logistical realties, everything is being coordinated in English and online. If you know someone who loves to dance but for whom language or web access are a barrier, please consider acting as their liaison to this project. Also, JJ can communicate in fluent French or tolerable Spanish during the shoots.

Q: What was the selection process for How Philly Moves and the mural design?

A: Looking at the responses from participants was a little bit like looking at Philadelphia through a Kaleidoscope: we saw a beautiful, colorful, multi-faceted image of the community of dancers in the city. Knowing full well that the view through this lens cannot possibly be an absolute representation of all dance in the city, we were still amazed to see the range of responses that we received.

Just like the image in a Kaleidoscope can go through infinite variations as you spin the dials, there are any number of ways to pick a selection of dancers from the responses. Each combination would generate a beautiful range of imagery, and each combination would leave out other equally wonderful dancers. The fact of the matter is that there are certainly more types of dancers in the city than we can fit on the parking garage walls.

It’s important to be clear that the selection process for the shoots (and the eventual selection in the final design) has nothing to do with one particular dancer “winning” over another. This project isn’t just about the particular dancers that are photographed, but rather about the fact that Philly is full of dancing. The final design is but a glimpse of the bright, beautiful and multi-faceted face of dance in the city. The winner here is the entire community of dancers that will be celebrated in this massive installation, and every single viewer that will be welcomed to the city with the joy of dance.

Answers for past participants

Q: Where can I find other photos and video from the How Philly Moves photo sessions?

A: Complete galleries of the How Philly Moves shoots are linked below for your personal use, courtesy of JJ Tiziou Photography. Video from some of the shoots is available from Ellen Reynolds. Send her an email and be sure to include a the date of your shoot and photograph of yourself.

A few favorites

December 21, 2014
December 20, 2014
December 19, 2014
December 18, 2014

October 23 ,2011
October 22, 2011
October 21, 2011
October 20, 2011

March 7, 2010
March 6, 2010
March 5, 2010

September 14, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 12, 2008

April 27, 2008
April 18, 2008

Q: Can I get high-res copies of photos from How Philly Moves?
A: Participants are welcome to download web-resolution files and order prints through the links above. Higher quality files are available through JJ Tiziou Photography. Please fill out the contact form and be sure to include the filename of the image that you are interested in and how you plan to use it.
Q: How do I find out what is happening with the pictures of me?
A: Please keep an eye on this website and make sure that your most current email address is subscribed to the mailing list. We’ll do our best to keep you informed as to what’s going on with the different incarnations of How Philly Moves. You can also follow How Philly Moves on Facebook and Twitter.