DanceHouse opens with Borderline

Borderline: Kompanie Wang Ramirez
photo: Frank Szafinski

DanceHouse is launching their 2018/19 season with the Canadian premiere of France’s Company Wang Ramirez work, Borderline, playing October 26 and 27, 2018 at 8pm at the Vancouver Playhouse. 

Performed to layered rhythms and spoken word by percussionist, composer LACRYMOBOY (Jean-Philippe Barrios), along with choreographic duo Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang combining hip hop and contemporary dance with the movement of martial arts in exploration of democracy, immigration, manipulation, and the place of individuals in society.

“Coinciding with escalating nationalist rhetoric and contentious debates on immigration worldwide, Borderline’s open-ended examination of diasporic identity is more relevant than ever,” says Jim Smith, Artistic and Executive Director of DanceHouse. “As Canada is largely a country of immigrants, local audiences will resonate with the work’s illumination of the beauty and the challenges inherent in embodying more than one culture — honouring multiple traditions and languages, while forging a new blended identity of one’s own. Company Wang Ramirez has created a theatrical experience that will linger long after the curtain falls, and stimulate essential discourse about the future of democracy.”

Dancehouse Borderline
photo: Agethe Poupeney

Choreographed in 2013, Borderline consists of several thoughts, ideas, and moments that question the meaning of democracy. Wang and Ramirez are joined on stage by fellow dancers Louis Becker, Johanna Faye, and Saïdo Lehlouh, along with aerial rigger Alister Mazzotti. The five dancers, attached to cables perform a series of 11 intimate vignettes, with the rigger acting in concert with and against the dancers.

DanceHouse presents Company Wang Ramirez: Borderline, October 26 & 27, 2018 at 8pm, at the Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street. A pre-show talk with Borderline artists takes place at 7:15 each evening.

For tickets and further information about Borderline, visit dancehouse.ca

 

TUTS takes us to 42nd Street

The 2018 season of Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is now open with 42nd Street alternating nights at Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park with Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

The company of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Directed by Robert McQueen, 42nd Street is a show within a show jukebox musical that takes us back to 1930s Broadway.  A familiar selection of standards and showtunes are (very) loosely strung together by a behind-the-scenes story of the production of a Broadway show. The tried and true story of the small town girl looking to break into showbiz, follows fresh off the train Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser) making her way into the new Broadway musical, the show within the show, Pretty Lady. Acclaimed director Julian Marsh (Andrew Cownden) needs a hit to recover from his Stock Market Crash losses, star Dorothy Brock (Janet Gigliotti) needs to prove she’s not past her prime, even though she’s still very good at playing the diva in real life.

Paige Fraser (Peggy), Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor)
photo: Lindsay Elliott

Along the way Dorothy is juggling paramours, then breaks her foot, Tenor Billy Lawlor is hoping to date Peggy, who is fired, hired, fired and rehired by Julian during the course of 42nd Street.
While the story is familiar and predictable, the cast is likeable and makes the most of the, schmaltzy, depression-era dialogue. Fraser and Gigliotti each deliver strong vocals and are perfectly paired on their duet About A Quarter To Nine.  Cownden performs with a single-minded toughness like he’s stepped right out of a gangster film,  but manages to make Marsh endearing.

Blake Sartin (Billy Lawlor, left) with the cast of 42nd Street
photo: Lindsay Elliott

The show really comes to life in the brilliantly choreographed, by Shelley Stewart Hunt, production numbers.  With up to 30 cast members onstage lending a Busby Berkley-esque feel to the tap routines, the cacophony of the taps beating a rhythm to the catchy tunes, like We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway, and 42nd Street, really lift the excitement of the show.

The tap dancers onstage won’t be the only ones with their feet in motion, the production will leave you tapping and humming along throughout your journey to 42nd Street at Theatre Under The Stars.
42nd Street runs until August 17, 2018 at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Find tickets online at tuts.ca.

Dancing on the Edge 30th Anniversary opens July 5, 2018

Canada’s longest running festival of contemporary dance, Dancing on the Edge Festival is coming to Vancouver venues July 5 -14, 2018.

Celebrating its 30th Anniversary, Dancing on the Edge Festival’s longevity serves as a powerful reminder of the contributions of dance, to our past and future of the Arts in the community. Building on its 30 years of history the30th annual Dancing on the Edge Festival will bring dance in all shapes and forms to Vancouver audiences.

Festival Founder and Producer Donna Spencer announced that this year’s DOTE showcases over thirty performances involving more than twenty innovative companies and choreographers. Artists from across Canada, from Belgium and South Korea will take to stages and streets during the ten-day festival, performing in full length and mixed bill programs, as well as site-specific works.

Highlights of this year’s lineup include performances by visiting companies including;
Montreal’s Paul-André Fortier/Fortier Danse-Création
Belgium’s Liz Kinoshita,
South Korea’s Dab Dance Company
Montreal’s Lara Kramer Danse

MascallDance

BC choreographers are well represented too, performing a mix of new works and audience favourites include; Wen Wei Dance, Company 605, Lesley Telford/Inverso Productions, Co.ERASGA/Kasandra Lea, Kokoro Dance, Mascall Dance, Noam Gagnon/Vision Impure, and many more performances for the 30th anniversary. 

Outdoor site-specific work includes;

Gail Lotenberg of LINK Dance Foundation’s choreography Crosswalk Hustle, a new installation in “The Intersections Series” where pedestrians and vehicle traffic meet in a choreographed routine (performances at Davie & Bute and Commercial Drive &1st Ave),

Dances for a Small Stages Summer Series brings four short works to Granville Island ranging from tap to hip hop, from contemporary to flamenco.

Dancing on the Edge Festival kicks up its heels with a opening 30th Anniversary Party by-donation, community celebration on July 5th at Firehall Arts Centre.

For a full line-up and schedule of events, plus ticket information visit dancingontheedge.org

Dance House & Toronto Dance Theatre Celebrate Anniversaries

Toronto Dance Theatre

This weekend Vancouver’s Dance House welcomes cross-county compatriots Toronto Dance Theatre to the Vancouver Playhouse.  As Dance House celebrates their 10th anniversary, Toronto Dance Theatre celebrates their 50th with House Mix, a retrospective of the works by Artistic Director and Choreographer Christopher House.

Dance House has a goal to connect Vancouver with the world of dance, including the best of what’s right here in our country. 50 years is a feat for any organization, let alone an arts group, to celebrate, Toronto Dance Theatre assembled a collection of pieces from the last 3 decades to showcase the diversity in their company’s performances and artists. Their 90 minute showcase included;

Martingales – first performed November 2014 in Toronto
An energetic piece filled with rapid movements and playful rhythms.

Fjeld (excerpt) – first performed March 1990 in Toronto
A sculptural work inspired by the films of Ingmar Berman & Renaissance art.

Thirteen – first performed November 2017 in Bogota, Columbia
Revisiting an early Christopher House work from 1983, with the movements repurposed with a new score.

Echo Dark – first performed November 2015 in Toronto
A modern, dance set to a dark, heavy beat.

Toronto Dance Theatre

Vena Cava – first performed November 1998 in Toronto
A fast-paces, energizing show set to the music of composer Robert Moran.

Dance House continues to bring world-class dance performances, next up Betroffenheit, a collaboration between Kidd Pivot & Electric Company Theatre, March 14 – 17, 2018 at Vancouver Playhouse. Tickets online at dancehouse.ca

Pi Theatre presents Long Division

Remember when we were children in math class and wondered how math would relate to the real world? Long Division, is a play that seeks to show us how math works its way into every aspect of our lives.

Melissa Oei, Linda Quibell, Anousha Alamian, Jay Clift, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia (photo: David Cooper)

From April 26th to 30th, Pi Theatre presents a remount of Peter Dickinson’s Long Division, at the Annex Theatre. Directed by Pi Theatre’s Artistic Director Richard Wolfe with choreography by Lesley Telford and a musical score by Owen Belton, the work combines multimedia and physical theatre to explore the mathematics of human connection.

“Math is a secret language hidden in plain sight. So much of what we see in the world around us

– traffic patterns, the growth of plants, our ubiquitous mobile devices – are governed by logic and patterns that can be expressed purely in numbers,” says Richard Wolfe.

Long Division’s story revolves around seven diverse characters who are traveling to a downtown bar on the occasion of a complicated anniversary. Despite their eclectic backgrounds, the Venn Diagram of their lives overlap in a singular, unresolved traumatic event that binds their pasts together.

Long Division is a play about the search to discover and understand all of the profound and painful ways we are tied to one another. In life, as in math, it is often difficult to see the patterns that link us, or the connections we make until we experience them from different angles.

This bold and innovative work demonstrates how the seven characters need each other, the audience, and a healthy dose of mathematical history and theory to find the answer to the question they all share.

Long Division runs April 26 – 30, 2017 at Annex Theatre, 823 Seymour Street. Tickets are available online at pitheatre.com/tickets

Vancouver International Dance Festival opens Wednesday

The world of movement comes to Vancouver when the 2017 Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) opens March 1st. The VIDF has curated a culturally diverse program to stages around Vancouver including; classical ballet, Japanese butoh, street & urban, modern interpretive and other creative avenues of expression.

Choreographers, companies and dancers from near and far like local company Kinesis Dance, husband & wife team Kaeja D’Dance from Toronto, San Francisco brings Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Akaji Maro from Japan, and Denmark’s Kitt Johnson to name a few.
To reach as many as possible VIDF includes a number of free performances at Woodward’s Atrium and Roundhouse Community Centre.  For those who are more than spectators, masterclasses and workshops allow many of the visiting choreographers to share their art with local performers and artists.
In addition to the movement pieces, VIDF also presents art, photography exhibits and life drawing classes.

Vancouver International Dance Festival runs March 1st to 25th, 2017 in spaces and venues all around the downtown Vancouver. The full calendar, online program and tickets are available online now at vidf.ca

 

Kinky Boots on Tour

Broadway Across Canada’s Kinky Boots wrapped it’s tour stop in Vancouver this weekend selling out most shows at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  The Tony Award winning musical, adapted from the 2005 British film of the same name, has a timeless theme of diversity and inclusiveness that stands out as topical in the current political environment.

J Harrison Ghee as Lola | photo: Matthew Murphy

 

Loosely based on a real-life story, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, (Curt Hansen) the 4th Generation in Price & Son shoe factory, who longs to break away from the family business and his father’s expectations to live his own life with fiance Nicola in London.  When his Father passes, Charlie is forced to accept the realities of being responsible for the livelihoods of the small town factory’s staff, many of whom he has known his whole life.   In a chance meeting with Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), a London drag queen, he falls upon an unusual niche market that he hopes will save the factory and the employees.
After accepting that footwear is in his blood, the pressures of being responsible for the factory workers take their toll on his relationships.  Both Charlie and Lola try to shake off the expectations placed upon them by society and their fathers, leading them to the inevitable epiphany that moves the musical’s story along to it’s rousing climax.

The book by Tony award winner, Harvey Fierstein, brings plenty of laughs and heart without being too heavy handed with the production’s theme.  The contrast between the Price and Son factory folk and Lola and her troupe of drag queens provide the opportunity to enforce the message of accepting other as they are. Cindy Lauper’s music and lyrics, much like her own pop career, swing from quiet heartfelt ballads to over-the-top dance-pop production numbers.  Lola and the drag queens give Director / Choreographer Jerry Mitchell the obvious opportunity for colourful over the top dance numbers but these were almost expected from the performers. It is the factory pieces or when two sides of the cast combine that really awoke the audience, seeing the contract of the drably garbed staff keeping up with the long legged, high-kicking queens.

While Kinky Boots has closed in Vancouver, it continues on Tour around Canada and the US.  It was also announced this week, that J Harrison Ghee will be making his Broadway debut when he takes over the role of Lola in the New York production in March.

If you can catch Kinky Boots on tour, Broadway or in London’s West End, I hope you’ll come away with a bit of joy in your heart.