Spooky Action comes to Firehall Arts Centre

Vancouver-based choreographer Lesley Telford brings Spooky Action, her interdisciplinary dance project, to Firehall Arts Centre October 16th to 19th. 

Company of Spooky Action photo: David Cooper

Though appropriately titled for Halloween season, Spooky Action is actually inspired by Einstein’s theory referring to particles that are so closely linked, they share the same existence, yet they could be an entire universe apart. He called the phenomenon, “spooky action at a distance.” 

A collaboration with poet/performer Barbara Adler, this interdisciplinary work weaves together visual art, contemporary dance, poetry and original music, extending the provocative theory to human connections, exploring the mysterious ways we act on each other’s lives.

Spooky Action: Lucas Wilson-Bilbro & Eden Solomon photo: David Cooper

Firehall Arts Centre Artistic Producer Donna Spencer is thrilled to host the piece. “Firehall has been privileged to program the work of many of Vancouver’s most exciting contemporary choreographers,” she says.  “Each season when I program our dance presentations, I am looking for work that explores new ideas and challenges “status quo” themes often seen in contemporary dance. Lesley’s Inverso Dance work has a history of doing that. For Spooky Action, she has chosen very talented and accomplished creators to realize her concept and her choreography.”

The work is a combination of spoken word, group movement and duets for five dancers, as well as text performed live by Adler, portraying how we influence and affect each other in both conscious and unconscious ways. The narrative of the movement shows how we are all connected on a particle level that works magic in our everyday lives. An alumna of Nederlands Dans Theater and Madrid’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, Vancouver-born Lesley Telford’s choreography is gaining acclaim, as she tackles deep issues like quantum physics and presents them in ways that are relevant, effective, and enjoyable.  Spooky Action was first developed and premiered during an artist residency at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in 2017.

Spooky Action runs for four performances at Firehall Arts Centre from Wednesday, October 16 to Saturday, October 19, 2019.  Tickets and more information available online at firehallartscentre.ca

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks comes to Chan Centre

In recognition of Black History Month, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is bringing No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks to the Chan Shun Concert Hall on February 24th. 

As part of the Beyond Words series, this multimedia work from innovative art-collective Manual Cinema in collaboration with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featuring a live six-piece band and original score by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, creates an inspiring biographical narrative, of Gwendolyn Brooks. The late poet was a radical and disruptive presence within the national literary scene, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

Photo of Manual Cinema by Julia Miller

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre and curator of Beyond Words. “Two years ago they performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project — a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks that also includes a live band — I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Born in 1917 in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks worked for decades as an acclaimed artist, mentor to aspiring poets, and advocate for schoolchildren. Gaining much acclaim, she became one of the most widely read authors in America, using her poetic eloquence to convey the black experience.

No Blue Memories traces the political arc of her career and the development of her craft. Manual Cinema’s production uses a combination of shadow puppetry, vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and live music. Written by Ewing and Marshall — also known collectively as Crescendo Literary, a name taken from a Brooks composition — the evocative performance poetically explores her legacy. Fellow Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods for the original score, which will be performed live. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks takes the stage at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia at 7pm, Sunday February 24, 2019. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

Never Still opens the Firehall Arts Centre season.

Never Still:
Vanessa Goodman
photo: Ben Didier

Next week, The Firehall Arts Centre kicks off its 2018/2019 season with the world premiere of Never Still.  Running from from September 26 to 29, 2018, Never Still, is the newest work from Vancouver’s Vanessa Goodman (Action at a Distance Dance Society), created in collaboration with dancers Shion Skye Carter, Stéphanie Cyr, Bynh Ho, Alexa Mardon, Lexi Vajda, and Sound/Projection Designer Loscil (Scott Morgan), Lighting Designer James Proudfoot, Costumer Lloyd. 

Never Still is inspired by the inherent conflicts and dichotomies of water, it is graceful and challenging, like humanity itself.  Never Still explores social, environmental, and biological themes, in a highly physical piece that dives into the distinctions and overlap between three different systems of circulation: global water cycles, communication technology, and fluids within the body.

Never Still:
Shion Skye Carter
photo: Ben Didier

“We are living in an increasingly polarized culture,” says Donna Spencer, the Firehall Arts Centre’s Artistic Producer. “And it is our role as artistic creators to encourage audiences to consider, through what they are seeing on stage, how inextricably linked we all are in finding our way through these challenging times.”

She adds, “This season, our programming is about choices – the ones we make, the ones we think we should make but don’t, and the influences around us that colour that decision-making. Live performance allows us to experience a unique and powerful collective sharing of emotions and information that resonates through our day to day lives long after we have left the theatre, and indeed may influence the choices we make in the future.”

Never Still runs Wednesday September 26 to Saturday September 29, 2018 at The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova Street

“Monsters” Free Open Rehearsal April 28th.

Miscellaneous Productions invites the public to a free open rehearsal of their new musical theatre work, MONSTERS.  The free open rehearsal and community forum takes place on Friday, April 28 at the Dance Centre’s Faris Family Studio. 

photo: miscelleneous productions

Based loosely on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,  the show is designed for children and played by young actors to help reach the audience on the same level.  The title ‘monsters’  are both real and imagined as encountered by the cast of 14 youth players.  When the show debuts in October, the audience will find strong anti-bullying, anti-violence, anti-racism themes.  The play explores how and why a community creates and supports a ‘monster’, how collusion functions and how many are unaware of how incredibly damaging bullies can be.

A one-of-a-kind youth oriented arts-based company, Miscellaneous Productions is a 17 year old collaborative, non-profit creating  culturally and socially diverse, multi-barriered and mainstream performances, films and music for the public.  

MONSTERS’ free open rehearsal and community forum takes place Friday April 28, 2017, 7pm at The Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street (at Granville St)

Odysseo by Cavalia in Vancouver

Odysseo by Cavalia is now on under the White Big Top in Vancouver. It’s hard to miss the largest travelling big top in the world as the massive white structure dominates the southern shores of False Creek.

Whilst the White Big Top is impressive to look at, what’s inside is even more of a spectacle.  Sixty-five majestic stallions and geldings and 48 of their human colleagues take centre stage to put on the breathtaking Odysseo by Cavalia.  The 2.5 hour long show defies description as it combines equestrian, acrobatics, live music, sound and visual effects broadcast by 18 projectors onto a curved screen three times as large as a standard cinema screen.

Without spoiling the show by giving away too many details, the horses, riders and performers take the audience on a global journey from the steppes of Asia, to the African savannah to the American West and on to Easter Island with many stops in between. Tumbling performers dazzle with the speed of their leaps, high flying acrobats spin overhead, gymnasts amaze with feats of strength and balance but it’s the quiet skills of the equine performers that draw the most applause. The training and talents of the horses and trainers is most evident when the horses are performing at liberty (free of harness), their trainers’ slightest gesture and noise encouraging the horse’s next movement.  Odysseo by Cavalia prides itself on having the most horses at liberty in a show, at one point 30 animals are filling the 1625 square meter stage.  When man and beast combine their skills the show is mesmerizing; acrobatics, strength and speed add a level of danger and wonder.

Odysseo by Cavalia continues under the White Big Top at Olympic Village until March 5th.  Tickets are on sale now with more matinees already added to meet demand

PuSh Festival 2017 – Program Launch

pushfestivalIt’s looking like it’s going to be a long, wet winter, thankfully PuSh Festival comes along each year to brighten the long dreary days.

Last night at the Fox Cabaret, the home of Club PuSh, Artistic and Executive Director Norman Armour and Associate Curator Joyce Rosario announced the line-up for the 2017 PuSh Festival.  The 2017 Festival Guide is packed with another 3 weeks, January 16 – February 5, 2017, worth of acclaimed local, national and international artists that showcases their visionary, creative works. The multi-disciplinary festival, now in it’s 13th year, has earned its reputation for cutting-edge works in live theatre, dance, film, music and more.

This year watch for; Third World Bunfight from South Africa to put on a creative adaptation of Verdi’s Macbeth, from Belgium/Netherlands Jan Maarten’s Sweat Baby Sweat dance performance, or shadow projections in the Garden of Earthly Delights from Canada’s Mere Phantoms. With venues and showcases all over the city, there’s sure to be something for everyone at the 2017 PuSh Festival 

For the full line-up of what’s coming in the 2017 PuSh Festival visit pushfestival.ca

James & Jamesy In The Dark at Waterfront Theatre

jamesandjamesyFor a unique evening of theatre, catch James & Jamesy In The Dark at Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island until October 16th.

In The Dark is a performance that literally begins in the dark with the only lighting coming from the players’ custom created illuminated costumes. Start with the whimsy of Pixar’s earliest work,  add surreal philosophical questions of Samuel Beckett, then throw in a bit of clown-like physical comedy and ad-libbed audience interaction, the end result is James & Jamesy In The Dark.  While that description may defy logic, the play is indescribable and with audience interaction it can be a different show every night.

James & Jamesy (played by Aaron Malkin and Alastair Knowles) have appeared in three shows co-created by director David MacMurray Smith and the collaboration and camaraderie of the duo is evident especially as they improvise aspects of the show based on the audience.  The award-winning duos mime-like physicality is entrancing and entertaining with their fluidity and agility, it’s no wonder the show has been a Fringe Festival favourite as it’s toured across the country.

James & Jamesy In The Dark plays until October 16, 2016 at the Waterfront Theatre 1412 Cartwright St, Granville Island. Tickets are available online or at Tickets Tonight.

Visit jamesandjamesy.com/in-the-dark for more information

Watch the trailer for James & Jamesy In The Dark