Vancouver International Dance Festival brings dance to city stages

From March 4th to 30th, the 2019 Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) brings the world of dance to Vancouver venues. From across the country, across the Pacific, and right here at home, VIDF proudly presents a 2019 festival season, showcasing exhilarating performances by both internationally revered artists and lauded Vancouver performers, engaging workshops, and a host of interactive dance activities.

Dairakudan’s Pseudo Human Super Human by Hiroyuki Kawashima

The 2019 Dance Festival’s program showcases Canadian premieres from Japan’s sensational Dairakudakan — a VIDF audience favourite — as well as Taiwan’s Tjimur Dance Theatre, appearing in Vancouver for the very first time; three world premieres from Vancouver’s own Vision Impure, Olivia C. Davies, and Lesley Telford; and three West Coast premieres from East Coast artists Daina Ashbee (Montreal), Manuel Roque (Montreal), and 10 Gates Dancing (Ottawa), among many others. With 27 days of free and ticketed events, the VIDF program is sure to include something for every dance fan.

Vision Impure’s Pathways by Erik Zennström

“Dance is a unique and powerful medium that communicates and expresses our deepest, innermost thoughts and emotions, transcending the cultural and geographical constructs of today’s world,” says Barbara Bourget, Co-Producer of VIDF. “The VIDF is a platform for an array of international artists to showcase their vision, honour their customs and traditions, remove barriers, and spark dialogue amongst us. Through a thoughtful, curated program showcasing globally renowned artists from Canada and abroad, our goal is to be a catalyst for meaningful expression, connection, and conversation.”

Vancouver International Dance Festival runs March 4 to 30, 2019 at venues around Vancouver, for the full performance schedule, tickets and more information visit vidf.ca

18th Talking Stick Festival Opens

The 18th Talking Stick Festival, presented by Full Circle: First Nations Performance opens today. The celebration of Indigenous culture through the arts runs until March 2nd at various Vancouver venues.

Margo Kane, Artistic Managing Director of Full Circle: First Nations Performance says, “Our 2019 Talking Stick Festival is an open invitation to Explore Indigenous Culture through the Arts and we welcome back some of our favourite artists and companies who are developing international and national reputations of their own.” 

Speaking about the range of works audiences can expect from the 2019 festival, Kane adds, “This festival of extraordinary Indigenous performance and art features some of the best emerging and established Indigenous artists Turtle Island has to offer. It provides a stage for artists from a variety of artistic expressions – theatre, storytelling, writing, music, spoken word, dance, and visual arts. It celebrates the traditional performance of many communities, as well as the contemporary and interdisciplinary work of Indigenous creators.”

Children of God
Children of God

Highlights from the 2019 Talking Stick Festival include: 

Children of God by Corey Payette (an Urban Ink production, co-presented with The Cultch), a musical story of redemption for a family overcoming the history of residential schools, playing February 20 – March 10, 2019 at York Theatre

Wax hoks en Shqalawin (Open Your Hearts) Opening Gala, a evening of music and dance on February 21 at Roundhouse Community Centre, kicking off the Visual Arts Exhibit on view at the Roundhouse Community Centre throughout the festival run.

Indian Acts: Staged Readings Series features play readings of new works from Kevin Loring, Tai Amy Grauman, Taran Kootenhayoo, Lisa C. Ravensbergen, and Margo Kane

Muyuntsut ta Slulum (Immerse Yourself in Music), a musicseries featuring Snotty Nose Rez Kids with DJ Kookum, Emily Wurramara, and DJ O Show performing throughout the run of the festival. 

Reel Reservations Film Series screening of SGaawaay K’uuna Edge of the Knife (2018 Best Canadian Feature – Vancouver Film Critics Circle), Falls Around Here and Anori (Wind) 

Knowledge Sharing events for public and artists run throughout the festival

2-Spirit Series that includes Looking for Tiger Lily from Anthony Hudon (the human vessel for Portland’s premiere drag clown Carla Rossi).

Family-friendly shows Nanabush Stories, Tee Pee Theatre, and Celebration of Dance are Pay-What-You-Can events for all-ages

Festival Closing Night Celebration: Ab-Original Cabaret, a celebration full of music, comedy, theatre, song, and spoken word from the brightest Indigenous talent March 2 at The Ironworks Studios.

For full details of the Talking Stick Festival, including venues and tickets, at talkingstickfest.ca 

Vancouver Opera La Bohème celebrates Valentine’s

Vancouver Opera celebrated St Valentine’s Day with the opening of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

La Bohème photo: Tim Matheson
Ji-Min Park as Rodolfo & France Bellemare as Mimi photo: Tim Matheson

The lush production impresses from the first moment as the curtain rises on Marché aux Puces, Paris’ largest flea market. As tourists explore the stalls, one imagines how the market was in the 1920s. As she and the audience are transported back to the age of The Lost Generation, we are introduced to a group of carefree but impoverished artists. Poet Rodolfo (Ji-Min Park) and Painter Marcello (Phillip Addis) live in a drafty attic room and can barely keep themselves warm let alone fed. Friends Colline and Schaunard help out but life is a struggle for all of them. Rodolfo meets and falls deeply for Mimi (France Bellemare) and Marcello rekindles feelings with Musetta (Sharleen Joynt). Like a classic tragedy we’re treated to the ups and downs of the friends’ lives, centred on Rodolfo’s doomed love of the terminally ill Mimi.

Phillip Addis as Marcello & Ji-Min Park as Rodolfo photo: Tim Matheson

This production of La Bohème was Ji-Min Park 100th turn singing the part of Rodolfo. For a young singer, Ji-Min Park has experience and skills that belie his age, his comfort with the material projected in his powerful performance. In France Bellemare, Park finds an easy chemistry and a beautiful pairing of voices. Playing a star singer within the show, Sharleen Joynt’s Musetta grabs the spotlight as she enters the stage. Everyone in the production fills the theatre with brilliant vocals. The stage is also filled on many occasions during the as performers from Vancouver Opera Chorus join some scenes bringing 50+ players to the stage.

Sharleen Joynt as Musetta photo: Tim Matheson

Directed by Renaud Doucet with the Vancouver Opera Orchestra conducted by Judith Yan, from start to finish, La Bohème’s sound, staging, sets, costumes and performers are polished to perfection. Even without knowing Italian (there are English Surtitles) the show is filled with emotion and passion.

Vancouver Opera presents La Bohème continues at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 16, 19, 21 and 24, 2019. For more information, showtimes and tickets visit vancouveropera.ca/boheme

Théâtre la Seizième presents Le Soulier

Théâtre la Seizième is bringing the world premiere of its newest production, Le Soulier, to Studio 16, February 27 to March 9. 

Written by award-winning Quebec playwright David Paquet, and directed by Esther Duquette and Gilles Poulin-Denis, Le Soulier is a dark comedy, full of touching and relatable characters trying very hard to be happy.

Melanie’s son Benoit, age 8, has a pain that won’t go away so she takes him to the dentist. This results in an epic meltdown, from the always difficult young man.  Once in the dentist’s chair, the story unfolds and Benoit turns out to have a lot more than cavities inside his mouth. Melanie – with the help of a kind, alcoholic receptionist and a dentist who prefers plants to people – must face the fact that her son’s problems are much larger than a simple toothache.

David Paquet, recipient of the 2010 Governor General’s Award for French-language drama and the 2017 Prix Michel-Tremblay for his play Porc-épic, has written a hilarious and unsettling play in which empathy triumphs over illness.  While on the surface Le Soulier is a whimsical comedy, the play is actually a drama about mental health issues, addressing an array of topics.  Behavioural disorders, psychological suffering and the empathy it can inspire, exhaustion, and self-medication – are all dealt with in a light but dark and, most importantly, appropriate humour.

Le Soulier comes to the Studio 16 Stage, 1555 West 7th Ave, from Wednesday February 27, to Saturday March 9, 2019. Visit seizieme.ca for more information, showtimes and tickets. 

Le Soulier will be presented with English surtitles every evening of the run except on Fridays.

The King’s Singers fill Chan Centre at UBC

On the eve of a trip to the 61st Grammy Awards, The King’s Singers showed the Early Music Vancouver audience the sound that garnered them a nomination for Best Classical Compendium, for “Gold” their 50th Anniversary album. The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC was filled with patron and the amazing voices of the six member acapella choir.

The King’s Singers photo: Marco Borggreve

In keeping with Early Music Vancouver’s values to promote historic works, The King’s Singers sources their catalogue to take us back to the Renaissance for Royal Blood: Music for Henry VIII. The first half of the performance included pieces composed by Henry VIII, plus William Byrd, court composer of Elizabeth I and other Tudor composers; Thomas Weelkes, Thomas Tomkins. In addition, other royal inspired works like excerpts from Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, pieces from Henry Purcell and Richard Rodney Bennett.

After the interval, in keeping with The King’s Singers usual second act, the songs became more contemporary starting with the traditional folk legacy of the earlier madrigals like Greensleeves, which has been often attributed to Henry VIII. The iconic Danny Boy also received Singers’ close harmony treatment. The sextet also moved on to modern day composers; George Gershwin (Can’t Sit Down from Porgy & Bess) The Beatles – Lennon / McCartney (And I Love Here & Honey Pie), The Beach Boys (Kokomo).

The King’s Singers photo: Marco Borggreve

Throughout the show, the members; Patrick Dunachie, Edward Button, Julian Gregory, Christopher Bruerton, Nick Ashby, and Jonathan Howard, regaled the audience with anecdotes and historical context for the pieces of music. Even if the music might not have been familiar to all, the rapport and charm of the Singers really connected with the audience. In the pre-concert talk, with EMV’s Artistic Director Matthew White, Dunachie noted that the singers don’t like to break eye contact with the audience, relying on non-verbal cues with each other to keep the connection with their audience.

While The King’s Singers didn’t come away from The Grammy’s with a trophy, everyone at The Chan Centre was a winner by being able to experience the amazing vocals of the British choir.

Experience the next Early Music Vancouver show, Chopin – The Last Concert – Tobias Koch, February 22nd at Christ Church Cathedral. A presentation of Chopin’s last concert by German pianist Tobias Koch

Tasting Plates celebrates its 7th Anniversary

Wednesday night, Vancouver Foodster and dozens of hungry foodies celebrated the 7th Anniversary of Tasting Plates. For seven years, Vancouver Foodster has been helping people discover the city’s food scene and neighbourhoods. Through the years, hundreds of patrons have found newly opened restaurants, revisited old favourites, and explored neighbourhoods that might not be in their radar. While some restaurants have come and gone, Vancouver Foodster’s Tasting Plates events can be credited with bringing attention to some of the city’s now go-to spaces.

On Wednesday night, it was another evening of taste tourism as Tasting Plates roamed throughout downtown Vancouver. The 7th Anniversary Tasting Plates visited:

Bonus Bakery

Bonus Bakery Cafe: 1185 West Georgia Street
The plant-based Bonus Bakery Cafe, sibling to the adjacent Freshii outlet, presented a box full of fresh-baked goodies. Blueberry Muffin, Walnut Brownie, and Bonus Cookie – Chocolate Chip, Oreo, Corn Flakes, Pretzels, Vegan Marshmallows



Pacific Poke


Pacific Poke: 1795 Robson Street
On the corner of Robson & Denman, Pacific Poke scooped up a selection of their Chef Inspired Poke Bowls like The Keefer – Ahi Tuna, Ahi Negitora, Avocado Nori, Wasabi Peas, Organic Seaweed Salad, Wasabi Mayo, Shoyu, Yuzu, Lime Juice, Ginger, Sprouts and Herbs. To sip, Coco Panda, a refreshing drink of Coconut Milk, Pandan Milk and Young Coconut, nicely complimented the poke bowl.



Davie Dosa Company

Davie Dosa Company: 1235 Davie Street
The always flavourful Davie Dosa Company served up a selection of its South Asian menu; Adai – Sprouted Lentil Pancakes, Avial – Coconut Veggies, Chettinad Kara Paniyaram – A Savoury Muffin, Kesari – Semolina Halwa (a sweet pudding like dessert).



Mumbai Local

Mumbai Local: 1148 Davie Street
Mumbai Local delivered a taste of the bustling Indian metropolis with a pretty plate of snacks including; Shev Puri – Potatoes, Onions, Shev (crunchy noodles), served on Cracker with Tamarind & Chili Chutney, Prawns Rava – Semolina Coated Fried Prawn, Fried Chicken Lollipop – with Szechuan Dipping Sauce, Shrikhand – Sweet Thick Yoghurt & Fruit


Donnellan’s Chipper

Donnellan’s Chipper: 1224 Granville Street
The newly opened Donnellan’s Chipper serves Irish comfort food that anyone from the Isle will feel at home with, perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or after the pub including; Spice Bag – Spicey Fries & Chicken, Taco Fries – topped with zesty Taco Meat & Cheese, DC Burger, Battered Sausage, Breakfast Roll – Sausage, Egg, Bacon. Their grand opening and liquor license is coming soon.

Congratulations to Vancouver Foodster for 7 years of great Tasting Plates experiences, here’s to many more.
If you’d like to explore the flavours of the city, get tickets for the next Tasting Plates, Mount Pleasant on February 27th.

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