Headlong Performance Institute

Headlong Performance Institute (HPI)
is an intensive Philadelphia semester in hybrid performance founded and taught by working artists, including the artistic directors of Headlong. HPI students train, create, perform, and see work in the heart of Philadelphia’s vibrant and internationally-known performance scene. HPI students benefit from professional mentoring through our “Life of the Artist” series, and also earn a full semester of 300-level undergraduate credit through our partner institution Bryn Mawr College.


Each day includes technique classes, improvisation and composition work, and time for rehearsal. All of this work is grounded in a study of the history of contemporary performance with frequent trips to see live work in and around Philadelphia including a full slate of programs in the Fringe Arts Festival in September.


We emphasize long lines of research organized around showings and low-key performances so that the work evolves and changes in a process of gaining deeper insight into the questions you explore. Each HPI class forms a tight-knit, cooperative community of inquiry and exploration in an intensive environment that includes six to nine hours a day of learning and creating together.


A typical HPI class include artists who:

  • Come from performance backgrounds in dance and theater — some from liberal arts background and others from conservatory training.


  • Come from training in other disciplines too — like visual art, music, science, humanities, social research and activism.


  • Are undergraduates and “post-bacs”—folks who are already in the world making and exploring. (Undergrads attend as part of a semester-away option receiving a full semester’s worth of credit through our partner institution Bryn Mawr College.)


  • Are “post-bacs”—folks who have graduated and/or are already in the world making and exploring.


  • are between 20 and 30 years old but often include artists in their 30’s, 40’s and older.

Artist Tax Prep

Headlong Co-Director Amy Smith has been doing tax preparation for artists for more than 13 years.  Her tax prep team now serves over two hundred artists annually.  Amy also teaches tax workshops for artists at the Corzo Center, the Leeway Foundation, Cultureworks, and at other places.  Tax prep is not an official program of Headlong, but it does overlap with our mission of providing financial advice and strategic planning to other artists in the community.  Please contact Amy at amy@headlong.com for more information.

Financial Literacy

Headlong Co-Director Amy Smith teaches Financial Literacy for Artists through Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program and in other settings (colleges and universities, service organizations and foundations).   Topics include budgeting, valuing your time, negotiating for fair pay, taxes, debt management, long term saving, and alternative economic models.  Please contact Amy at amy@headlong.com for more information.