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

3rd Annual Pizza Palooza Corners Vancouver Pizza

Wednesday night, the snow was coming down but the pizza ovens were heating up Vancouver Foodster’s 3rd Annual Pizza Palooza.  Guests visited all corners of downtown Vancouver to try out some of the city’s pizzas and flatbreads.  From Neapolitan, to Lebanese, and Indian, to Roman, the ovens and flattops were cranking out the pies for the crowds of guests exploring the world of flavours.

To start off the night, the Pizza Palooza check-in location, Living Produce Aisle in Yaletown brought out some palate cleansing and healthy fresh juices made some some of their wholesome house-grown greens.


Then we were off, and pizza hunting.

One of Yaletown Davie Street’s newest spots Manoush’eh, is a recent winner of the Vancouver Foodster 2018 Flatbread Challenge, and you could taste why from their layers of Lebanese flavours in their offerings.  A dual serving of Falafel Flatbread (house-made falafel mix coated flatbread topped with tahini, tomatoes, pickled turnip and parsley) and Lahm be Ajeen (a thin crust, open face meat pie with organic spiced ground beef, with diced tomatoes and onion)


Just a couple blocks away, a traditional Neapolitan pizza becomes a one of a kind creation as a “You Build” pie from Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Starting with a hand-stretched 6 inch dough we chose from dozens of sauces, meats, vegetable and cheese toppings before our own creations were fired into the stone oven.



Further along Davie Street, into the West End, Davie Dosa Company turned their Indian pancakes into Indian pizza by topping their dosa with curried lamb on one half and vegetables (bell peppers, tomato, carrot, cottage cheese and cilantro) on the other half.  Alongside a zesty lentil soup dip, coconut and tomato/ginger chutneys added more flavour to the Indian pizzas.

Crossing the city to Gastown, the recent addition to the neighbourhood, Ignite Pizzeria Express near Waterfront Station offered a pair of slices from their rotating selection of artisan Neapolitan style pizzas.  The Ignite crew was quickly turning out a variety of topping combinations hot from their oven, like Four Formaggi, Spicy Soppressata, Pesto Chicken, Fresh Ricotta and others.

Finally the original Gastown location of Stretch Roman Pizza Co. offered another pizza pair; Pancetta e Scamozza (pancetta parmigiano and smoked mozzarella) plus Caprese Pizza (bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil) piled on their signature long stretched soft dough.

With the snow lightening up during the evening, the 3rd Annual Vancouver Foodster Pizza Palooza was a great evening of flavour exploration.  If this sounds appealing join the next Vancouver Foodster event, Tasting Plates Coquitlam coming March 14th

Pss Pss Grabs Attention at The Cultch

For theatre without dialogue, Compagnia Baccalà’s Pss Pss certainly creates a lot of buzz, on stage at The Cultch York Theatre.

Him and Her
photo: Geri Born

The award winning show stars Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari, her and him, as they take the audience on an adventure in physical-comedy.  The two performers formed Compagnia Baccalà combining careers in circus and cabaret, which both shine through in Pss Pss.  Their mostly silent performance echos comedy greats like Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and even Lucille Ball, their clown-like faces able to express so much with just a raised eyebrow, or curl of the lips.  Where their facial expressions bring laughter, their physical acrobatics and gymnastics skills bring awe.

Like a circus show, Pss Pss is a series of set pieces combining all of their skills into a hilarious and breathtaking hour long performance.  While their acrobatics are awe-inspiring the moments that are perhaps the most risky are incorporating the audience.

photo: Pipo Gialluisi

As with any audience interaction the performer hopes their instincts are sharp and they choose an able and game player. On opening night the audience members really got into the spirit of the show and the man they singled out to bring onstage perfectly fit the bill, incorporating into their balancing act with ease.  Even though not part of the direct interaction, hearing the large number of children in the audience vocalize their wonder and amazement add an extra bit of joy to the experience.

Compagnia Baccalà’s Pss Pss is an hour of theatre that is sure to put a smile on your face, and a thrill in your heart.

The York Theatre plays host to Pss Pss until March 4, 2018. Visit for tickets and showtimes.

The sounds of The Jazz Epistles coming to The Chan Centre

Abdullah Ibrahim

This weekend experience a moment of jazz history as the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts presents The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim with guest Terence Blanchard in a rare tribute concert, on Sunday February 18. 

In the 1950s South Africa’s The Jazz Epistles were the hip, young things of the jazz scene.  Now more than a half-century on from their landmark album Jazz Epistle Verse 1, the Jazz Epistle alumnus Abdullah Ibrahim revisits the legendary repertoire of his historic South African ensemble.

“Abdullah Ibrahim is one of the world’s great jazz pioneers and an important figure of hope and perseverance in the face of oppression,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “While apartheid divided South Africa, a brave group of black artists, The Jazz Epistles, were creating brilliant jazz at a time when it was forbidden. We proudly celebrate their talent and achievements as we welcome Ibrahim alongside a fellow influential force in jazz, Terence Blanchard, to our stage for the first time.”

The Jazz Epistles were South Africa’s first black jazz band to record an album and break onto the world stage back. Six young artists blended the sound of township dancehalls with American jazz, the music of The Jazz Epistles was both innovative and brave. In 1959, The Jazz Epistles recorded their first album. Though only 500 copies were initially distributed, it was later recognized as a groundbreaking recording. Following the institution of apartheid in South Africa The Jazz Epistles were forced into exile and the sextet fled separately to Europe and North America. Two members – Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela – became music giants in their own right.

After being discovered by the late Duke Ellington, Ibrahim was signed to Frank Sinatra’s record label and quickly achieved international recognition. Ibrahim went on to release an impressive discography, playing with big jazz names such as Max Roach, Carlos Ward, Randy Weston, and many others.

Four-time Grammy-winning New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard, considered one of the most prolific jazz musicians, with a career steeped in acclaim and spanning more than four decades, joins Ibrahim on the stage at, backed by his band Ekaya also joining the bill on Sunday night at The Chan Centre.

The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim with guest Terence Blanchard takes place 7pm, Sunday February 18, 2018 in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC.  Ticket holders are welcomed to attend a free pre-show talk at 6:15pm in The Chan Centre’s Royal Bank Cinema.  

Fun Home grows up on The Arts Club stage

The 2015 Tony Award winning Best Musical, Fun Home makes its Canadian debut on The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island stage. Based on the graphic autobiography by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and directed by Lois Anderson, Fun Home features the adult Alison (Sara-Jeanne Hosie) trying to overcome a bout of writer’s block.  While looking back into the moments of her life she unlocks dormant memories and feelings of childhood, growing up and coming out and most importantly her relationship with her father.

The 10 year old, tomboy, Small Alison, played in a powerhouse performance by Jaime MacLean, imagines life to be like a Partridge Family episode but her obsessive compulsive father, Bruce (Eric Craig) has other ideas.  The historic home restorer, English teacher, FUNeral HOME director runs a tight ship at home and work while fighting his own personal battles. In hindsight, adult Alison can see the cracks in her fathers veneer, living in a small town during the era of the ‘love that dare not speak its name’, he occassionally gives in to his gay urges, at times dangerously steps into predatory territory.

When she heads to college,  the Medium Alison (played by Kelli Ogmundson)  comes out to herself and her family as a lesbian.  As her father grows more manic, her mother, Helen, played by Janet Gigliotti, reveals that she isn’t the perfect sitcom mom that Alison envisioned, instead she did her best to tolerate her husband’s affairs with men and the humiliation of him being caught with underage boys.  Believing her coming out was a trigger for her father’s mental state she finally unlocks her memories and puts the puzzle pieces of his life, together with her own and overcomes her writer’s block as their stories have poured out of her pencil onto the pages.

In a time when the LGBT community has made great gains in visibility, Fun Home reminds us that not long ago things were very different for the generations before us.  While Fun Home takes the audience on an emotional journey, Lisa Kron’s book and lyrics, with music by Jeanine Tesori, are able to bring in lighthearted moments to balance.
All the performers, the youth and adult actors and musicians, in this production of Fun Home shine.  Amir Ofek’s set makes us feel at home inside the historic Bechdel home, complimented by Amy McDougall’s costumes that those of us who grew up in a similar era will remember (somewhat) fondly.

Fun Home plays at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until March 10th. Visit for tickets and times.

Picks of the Week – February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s lovebirds! This week Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year Celebrations offer plenty to get you out of the house, the picks of the week will help to sort out what’s on.

Chocolate: Perfect for your after dinner chocolate craving, the Hot Chocolate Festival wraps up tonight.

Romance:  Romance week at Vancouver TheatreSports League wraps up tonight but the laughter never ends at the Improv Centre.

Pucks: The Vancouver Canucks take to the ice twice this week; tonight vs Florida then again on Saturday against Boston.

photo: Jason Strang

Cultures:  The Cultch York Theatre has Jabberwocky, a dark puppet work inspired by Lewis Carroll, while at the Vancity Culture Lab features No Foreigners a multimedia presentation on race and home, both shows running until February 17th

Rock: Thursday night Cincinnati based rock act Walk the Moon take to the stage at the Vogue Theatre

Elle & Warner
photo: Anita Alberto Photography

Musical:  Learn to bend and snap as Align Entertainment brings the award winning, bubbly Legally Blonde the Musical to the stage at Michael J Fox Theatre, until February 17th

Pop: Friday night, see what the buzz is about when English songstress Dua Lipa takes to the Vogue Theatre stage.

Exhibition: The Vancouver Art Gallery celebrates the opening of Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg with a birthday bash, preview, dinner and party, the day before the opening of the Japanese artist’s first Canadian retrospective.

Next: West Moon Theatre has dual casts tackling the Pulitzer prize winning musical Next To Normal at Studio 16 from tonight until February 17th

Lunar: Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Year of the Dog Lunar Fest at Oakridge Centre and the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza through the new year.

Dragon:  At Fly Over Canada it’s a Lunar New Year double-bill of Flight of the Dragon, along with the regular Fly Over Canada experience, only until February 18th.

Moon: The Canadian Classic play, Salt-Water Moon, comes to the Gateway Theatre from February 15 – 24

Theatre: The Arts Club has the backstage antics of Jitters on at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until February 25 and the Tony award winning Fun Home at Granville Island Stage running until March 10

Jazz: Sunday night, the Chan Centre welcomes South African Jazz legends The Jazz Epistles: Abdullah Ibrahim with guest Terence Blanchard 



Katy Perry wraps up The Witness Tour in Vancouver

Katy Perry – Rogers Arena – February 6, 2018

Last week, Katy Perry brought her Canada/US leg of The Witness Tour to a close in Vancouver.  Supported by local songstress, Carly Rae Jepsen, the finale of the tour was an added night, used to film the tour for future use.

After 52 tour dates, the pop star showed little signs of tiring, pumping through the 20 song set with high energy throughout the 2 hours.  First up, Carly Rae Jepsen sparkled as she got the audience on their feet with some of her lively tunes.  Her half hour warm up set had the crowd, especially those in the VIP pit bouncing to her effervescent pop. Rounded out by her hits, Cut To The Feeling, Really Like You and Call Me Maybe which had everyone singing along.

Once the arena filled up, the lights went down except for the hundreds of illuminated Katy Kat ears adorning many of her fans. Then the all eyes were on the all-seeing eye on screen, as it parted to welcome Katy Perry with a roar from the audience.  The youngest fans, in particular, went wild as the star made her way on stage singing “Witness” to kick off The Witness Tour show.

For the next hours, the singing along, dancing and cheering continued with great joy.  If the onstage show isn’t enough, watching the happiness of the little fans is contagious and can’t help but bring a smile to one’s face.  The keyword for any Katy Perry show, is fun, as the star and her dancers make it seem like they’re enjoying every moment of the set. The multimedia, the dancers, stage sets and costumes really make a point that Katy knows her beloved Katy Kats but makes sure that the show doesn’t includes enough for the grown ups to enjoy the staging and music.  From “Witness”, to the encore of “Fireworks” all her top hits plus a few numbers from the Witness album  were included in the setlist. As is the norm for a Katy Perry show, fans were included, bringing up a sparkling little star to wish upon a star then a dad to help swish swish some giant basketballs on his birthday. As the end of the show neared and 11pm came around, some of the youngest fans tired and were seen being carried out of Rogers Arena, and home to dream about seeing their pop hero live.  For many, their first overall concert experience or for others their first Katy Perry concert was one they won’t soon forget.