Flamenco festival brings international stars to Vancouver

Flamenco Rosario produces another vibrant festival of flamenco dance and music | various venues | September 11 – 24, 2017

For 27 years, Flamenco Rosario has been bringing together local and international artists for an annual celebration of the music and movement of flamenco. This year’s Vancouver International Flamenco Festival from September 11 to 24 features Spain’s La Moneta in the headlining performance on September 23 at the Playhouse. 

Read more: Flamenco festival brings international stars to Vancouver

Animal interpretations, contemporary assortments, and No Fun: Dancing on the Edge 2017

Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance | Various venues, including Firehall Arts Centre | July 6 – 15, 2017  

Oath-Midnight Rain | Beijing Modern Dance Company

A bird, a fish, a mosquito, a blade of grass, and a flower make their way into the audience. One woman is in tears; she has been so moved by their performance. The mosquito gives her a long hug. Beijing Modern Dance Company presented their philosophical work of reincarnation and liminal midnight transition to a rapt audience. Choreographer Gao Yanjinzi explained that the show was about what happens after death, where we go, and how we could be reborn.

Read more: Animal interpretations, contemporary assortments, and No Fun: Dancing on the Edge 2017

Dancing on the Edge is back with the best of contemporary dance

Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance | various venues - Firehall Arts Centre, Stanley Park, SFU Woodward’s World Music Studio | July 6 to 15, 2017  

Always celebrating the best in local and Canadian contemporary dance, Dancing on the Edge returns for a 29th year to present a unique program of innovative new works from near and far. The festival predominantly features local and Canadian artists, with a special presentation from the Beijing Modern Dance Company to open the festival. With so much on the program, it may be hard to know which shows to check out. This list provides just a taste of what the festival has to offer; we hope it helps you find the perfect show for you.

Read more: Dancing on the Edge is back with the best of contemporary dance

Chutzpah!PLUS 2017: birds sing a pretty song

birds sing a pretty song. | Created and directed by Maxx Berkowitz and Rebecca Margolick | Chutzpah!PLUS | Norman Rothstein Theatre | May 13 – 14, 2017

In this work which premiered only a week prior in New York City, Rebecca Margolick (a Vancouverite now based in NYC) has choreographed a visceral duet for herself and Chuck Wilt while also creating a dialogue between the dancers and two onstage musicians.

Read more: Chutzpah!PLUS 2017: birds sing a pretty song

La Tarara presents two of Spain's flamenco stars

La Tarara | Kasandra Flamenco and Caravan World Rhythms | Norman Rothstein Theatre | May 4 – 5, 2017 | Also presented May 6 in Whistler and May 7 in Maple Ridge

Direct from Spain, Ivan Vargas Heredia and Emilio Ochando meet centre stage in a duel of fancy footwork and fiery passion. Kasandra “La China” performs a subtle, evocative solo that ends with the two men meeting her on stage and all three present a frenzied interplay of emotion to open La Tarara.

Read more: La Tarara presents two of Spain's flamenco stars

Ballet BC closes season with contemporary triple bill

Program 3 | Ballet BC | Emanuel Gat, Emily Molnar, Ohad Naharin | May 11 - 13, 2017

Lately it seems that everywhere you look contemporary Israeli choreographers are presenting new works with major dance companies. Ballet BC is no exception as they presented a new work by Emanuel Gat, Lock, as well as a compilation piece, Minus 16, by the famed “Gaga” innovator, Ohad Naharin. Also on the bill was a piece by artistic director Emily Molnar that was created for a National Arts Centre commission of new Canadian ballet and music creations called ENCOUNT3RS. Keep Driving, I’m Dreaming had its premiere in Ottawa in April.

Read more: Ballet BC closes season with contemporary triple bill

Compagnie Hervé KOUBI's Ce que le jour doit à la nuit is a breathtaking study of personal history

Ce que le jour doit à la nuit | Compagnie Hervé KOUBI | DanceHouse | Vancouver Playhouse | April 7 – 8, 2017

At 25 years old, Hervé Koubi found out that his parents were Algerian immigrants to France. His Algerian heritage had been hidden his whole life, and once he found out, he felt the need to go to Algeria and see where his family came from. While there he was introduced to the novel Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (What the day owes to the night) by Yasmina Khadra. Although the choreography is unrelated to the story of the novel, Koubi loved the title and all its possible metaphorical meanings so much that it stuck with him and became the title of this work that he began creating while in Algeria. 

Read more: Compagnie Hervé KOUBI's Ce que le jour doit à la nuit is a breathtaking study of personal history

Travis Wall's Shaping Sound - After the Curtain

After the Curtain | Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | March 25, 2017

After the Curtain was is its own mystical fantasy world of glamourous twenties style, effortless coolness, and endlessly enticing movement. Wall took the stage, sitting at a typewriter in a dressing room as he began to type “This may be my last chance to tell the truth about what happened.” He tells us that his name is Vincent, and he lives in his head where it is no longer safe. His alter-ego, Jude, sometimes takes over.

Read more: Travis Wall's Shaping Sound - After the Curtain

VIDF 2017: Light Breaking Broken - Jamieson/Grenier

Light Breaking Broken | Jamieson/Grenier | Vancouver International Dance Festival | Woodward’s Production Studio | March 23 – 25, 2017

Karen Jamieson and Margaret Grenier presented a preview of this collaboration at last year’s Coastal First Nations Dance Festival. Their goal with Light Breaking Broken was to bridge a cultural divide and push each other to grow as artists and individuals.

Read more: VIDF 2017: Light Breaking Broken - Jamieson/Grenier

VIDF 2017: Death and Flying - Rob/Jane/Kim

Death and Flying | Rob/Jane/Kim | Vancouver International Dance Festival | Roundhouse Exhibition Hall | March 16 – 18, 2017

We attach our memories of loved ones to things such as places, objects, gestures, and smells. In Death and Flying, Jane Osborne and Kim Stevenson perform a piece based on their personal memories, choreographed in collaboration with Rob Kitsos.

Moving to a recording of their own voices describing the objects and memories they cherish, Osborne and Stevenson sometimes mouthed along to the words, emphasizing the importance of those moments and descriptions. All the while, they were translating the story into movement. One thing Osborne talks about is her father’s red serge from his time in the RCMP, and Stevenson describes her mother’s dishes that she enjoys entertaining with, carrying on a tradition.

Read more: VIDF 2017: Death and Flying - Rob/Jane/Kim

VIDF 2017: A la douleur que j'ai - Compagnie Virginie Brunelle

À la douleur que j’ai (To the pain that lingers) | Compagnie Virginie Brunelle | Vancouver International Dance Festival 2017 | Roundhouse Performance Centre | March 16 – 18

Back for the second year in a row, Montreal’s Virginie Brunelle brought another bold, visceral work to the Vancouver International Dance Festival. Last year she presented an intense work about lost love, and this year’s piece shared a similar sense of anguish and heartbreak, but featured six dancers and involved a more developed narrative, with dramaturgy provided by Stéphanie Jasmin.

Read more: VIDF 2017: A la douleur que j'ai - Compagnie Virginie Brunelle

Ballet BC's Program 2 celebrates Canada 150 with BC choreographers

Program 2 | Ballet BC | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | March 16 – 18, 2017

This evening featuring choreographers from British Columbia was in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, but other than the choreographers being Canadian and representing Canadian dance abroad, there was little connection between the theme and the four works presented. That’s not to say that the works were not worthy of inclusion, but they could have been placed on any mixed bill.

Read more: Ballet BC's Program 2 celebrates Canada 150 with BC choreographers

Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion

Dearest Home excerpt; The Quiet Dance; The Gettin’ | Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion | Chutzpah! Festival 2017 | Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre | March 11 – 13, 2017

New York’s Kyle Abraham brought his refreshing contemporary choreography to Vancouver with a mixed bill of three works that all displayed his distinct subtlety based in deep human emotion. Fusing hip-hop, jazz, and modern dance styles, his work is distinct and impressive.

Read more: Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion

Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Carmina Burana - Spellbound Contemporary Ballet

Carmina Burana – Spellbound Contemporary Ballet | Chutzpah! Festival 2017 | Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre | March 4 – 6, 2017

After their memorable Chutzpah! debut last year, Italy’s Spellbound Contemporary Ballet was back for their North American premiere of Carmina Burana choreographed by Artistic Director Mauro Astolfi.

Nine dancers scramble on, over, and under a large wooden table. Some dancers lift one end of the table as others roll off. With the table standing on end, a couple of them climb up it with ease. It’s fast paced, exciting, and very creative. The dark lighting, opera music, and grey dresses with red crosses created a medieval, foreboding feeling.

Read more: Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Carmina Burana - Spellbound Contemporary Ballet

VIDF 2017: In Penumbra - Kinesis Dance Somatheatro

In Penumbra | Kinesis Dance Somatheatro | Vancouver International Dance Festival | Scotiabank Dance Centre | March 1 – 4, 2017

When you’re given a pair of sunglasses upon entering the theatre, you know you’re in for a unique experience. In Penumbra was unlike any dance or multimedia show I’ve seen, with bright lights and lighting fixtures everywhere, seating in the round, and an otherworldly aura about the whole thing.

Read more: VIDF 2017: In Penumbra - Kinesis Dance Somatheatro

Am A - Amber Funk Barton and Mindy Parfitt present their show about neuroplasticity

am a | Amber Funk Barton and Mindy Parfitt | The Cultch’s Vancity Culture Lab | February 21 – March 4, 2017

A dancer learns to use her voice. A theatre artist learns to dance. Together, they demonstrate what they have learned about neuroplasticity.

Amber Funk Barton and Mindy Parfitt greeted us as we came into the theatre and asked us to put our belongings at our seat and then join them on stage. On the crowded stage Funk Barton taught us the Electric Slide line dance and sent us back to our seats. Later in the show, we were asked to do a visualization of the dance we learned, and they explained that this method of repetition is just as effective in learning a new skill. It seems that, as far as our brains are concerned, thinking about doing something can be the same as actually doing it.

Read more: Am A - Amber Funk Barton and Mindy Parfitt present their show about neuroplasticity

Chutzpah! Fest 2017: 4Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer - Yossi Berg & Oded Graf Dance Theatre

4Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer | Yossi Berg & Oded Graf Dance Theatre | Chutzpah! Festival 2017 | Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre | February 25 – 27, 2017

A life-size deer sculpture sat on stage to greet us as we took our seats. Wearing Mexican wrestling masks and suits with patterned button down shirts, four men take the stage and stand in a line facing the deer, doing the cha-cha. If it sounds strange, that’s because it is. But amidst the strangeness, there was some interesting commentary about masculinity.

Read more: Chutzpah! Fest 2017: 4Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer - Yossi Berg & Oded Graf Dance Theatre

Dance House presents energetic triple bill from Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal

BJM Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal | presented by Dance House | Vancouver Playhouse | February 24-25, 2017

Louis Robitaille’s world renowned touring company Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (BJM) returned to Vancouver after four years to present three stunning works. Always full of dynamic energy and working with innovative contemporary choreographers, BJM puts on an exciting show.

Read more: Dance House presents energetic triple bill from Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal

Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Telemetry - Shay Kuebler Radical System Art

Telemetry | Shay Kuebler / Radical System Art | Chutzpah! Festival 2017 | Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre | February 18 – 21, 2017

At last year’s Chutzpah! Festival, Shay Kuebler presented Telemetry as a work in progress. This year, after a second residency with Chutzpah!, he presented the full-length work. This time, the tap stylings of Danny Nielson were incorporated throughout, and the choreography was even more bold, determined, and relentless.

The show began with a tap solo from Neilson at the front of the stage, showing off his rhythm and smooth moves as his tapping activated lights at the edge of the stage. These lights along with the white motion activated surface of the stage that displayed shadows and interesting patterns gave the show a futuristic feel and it was nice to see more of that incorporated as well.

Read more: Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Telemetry - Shay Kuebler Radical System Art

Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Tara Cheyenne Performance and Silvia Gribaudi

empty.swimming.pool | Tara Cheyenne Performance and Silvia Gribaudi | Chutzpah! Festival and The Dance Centre | February 16, 2017

Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg doesn’t simply choreograph movement, she choreographs characters. There is a subtle humour to everything in empty.swimming.pool — so subtle that many audience members didn’t seem to find the piece funny at all, and a few left early.

Gribaudi tentatively emerged from the wings, silently looked at the audience, and retreated. Friedenberg peeked out from the other side, appraised the situation, and returned to the wings. The humour of this repetitive action continued as they stood awkwardly posing, still unsure of themselves and began speaking in umms and ehs, while communicating through facial expressions.

Read more: Chutzpah! Fest 2017: Tara Cheyenne Performance and Silvia Gribaudi

PuSh 2017: FOLK-S, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

FOLK-S, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? | Alessandro Sciarroni | February 2, 2017 | Scotiabank Dance Centre

In partnership with the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre

The show seems to have already begun as we take our seats. Six dancers stand in a circle on the dark stage, tapping their feet in synchronized rhythm. It takes a few moments to notice that they are blindfolded. They are creating musical accompaniment for their movements, using their other senses to keep time. Slowly the crowd grows quiet and the dancers’ feet become louder on the stage, the rhythm seeming to pick up speed.

Read more: PuSh 2017: FOLK-S, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

PuSh 2017: Sweat Baby Sweat shows the tension and balance of a modern relationship

Sweat Baby Sweat | Jan Martens | PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and The Dance Centre | January 26, 2017

After what seems like an eternity of slow motion contortion and sexual tension, two dancers, wearing only their undergarments, finally kiss. The kiss goes on for what feels like forever as they continue to slowly climb on each other, lift each other, and lay each other down with extreme muscular endurance and strength. 

The impressive feats of Kimmy Ligtvoet and Steven Michel evolved over the course of Jan Martens’ Sweat Baby Sweat as they used their weight to balance each other and slowly shift their positions.

Read more: PuSh 2017: Sweat Baby Sweat shows the tension and balance of a modern relationship

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo entertain and impress

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo | January 20 and 21, 2017 | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

For any ballet fan, this show provides endless humour coupled with impressive talent; for the uninitiated, it is just as entertaining. From the hilarious character names like Helen Highwaters and Tatiana Youbetyabootskaya to the excellent spoofs of well-known ballets, this all male troupe dancing en pointe knows how to entertain and impress.

Read more: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo entertain and impress

Frédérick Gravel's All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey

All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey | Frédérick Gravel

November 8 – 12, 2016 | The Cultch

Frédérick Gravel, Nicolas Cantin, Tomas Furey, Dany Desjardins

 

Frédérick Gravel has a way of creating shows that are such a complete blend of theatre and dance that you can’t classify them in either category. At the 2016 Dancing on the Edge festival, his show Thus Spoke, was immediately endearing, bold, and like nothing I’d ever seen. Speaking directly to the audience in a wry, self-deprecating and extremely humorous manner seems to be his trademark, as he does so in both shows to great effect.

Read more: Frédérick Gravel's All Hell is Breaking Loose, Honey

Company 605 teams up with German Jauregui for Albatross

Albatross is coming to the Firehall Arts Centre December 7 – 10, 2016

International dance festivals such as Vienna’s Impulstanz are not only places for displays of innovation and choreography that pushes the boundaries of the art form, but they can also be the place where international collaborations begin. Josh Martin and Hilary Maxwell of Vancouver’s Company 605 took part in Impulstanz in 2010 and it was there they met German Jauregui. Years later they approached him to choreograph a duet with them, and Albatross began.

Jauregui, a Brussels-based choreographer and member of the renowned Ultima Vez company, came to Vancouver for the first time in June 2016 to begin work on Albatross. “In the beginning we had just a few weeks — to get to know each other,” said Jauregui. “It was a slow beginning getting to know each other, to explore ideas. Then the material started to develop. The first time you meet someone you need to understand how they move, how they digest material in the context of the creative process. We’re always getting to know each other through the work.”

Read more: Company 605 teams up with German Jauregui for Albatross

Ballet BC | Program 1 - Cayetano Soto

Ballet BC | Program 1 

November 3 – 5, 2016 | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Beginning After, Fugaz, Sortijas, and Schachmatt by Cayetano Soto

Ballet BC doesn’t usually show an entire evening of work by only one choreographer, but Cayetano Soto, as resident choreographer since last season, has created two world premieres for the company that were accompanied by two Canadian premieres of his work. Although he has a distinct style that links all the work, it was nice to see this range of pieces, some dark and gothic, others humorous and light. Quoted in the program, Soto likens choreography to architecture, saying that “the more complicated it gets, the more beautiful it becomes.”

Read more: Ballet BC | Program 1 - Cayetano Soto

Jessica Lang Dance makes their Canadian debut

Jessica Lang Dance | Dance House

October 28 & 29 | Vancouver Playhouse

Two lines of dancers criss-cross each other in perfect unison, creating bold lines and precise patterns amidst a Mondrian-inspired set. Jessica Lang’s intricate choreography is impressive right from the first moment these dancers take the stage. The five works on this Dance House program demonstrated Lang’s range and immense skill as an artist, and I was blown away by her work. This was the Canadian premiere of New York’s Jessica Lang Dance company, led by Lang who is an accomplished freelance choreographer who works with companies such as American Ballet Theatre and Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Read more: Jessica Lang Dance makes their Canadian debut

Major Motion Picture - Out Innerspace Dance Theatre

Out Innerspace Dance Theatre – Major Motion Picture

October 12 – 15, 2016 | Firehall Arts Centre

A gang of dancers clad in all black moved seamlessly across the stage. Another gang in striped patchwork onesies aggressively tried to gain ground and takeover the space. Meanwhile surveillance cameras watched their every move and projected the images onto a screen at the back of the stage.

There was never a dull moment in this cinematic show featuring seven dancers in constant motion. Co-Artistic Directors and choreographers David Raymond and Tiffany Tregarthen have created a multi-layered work that brims with urgency and an ominous tone. 

Read more: Major Motion Picture - Out Innerspace Dance Theatre

Mercedes Amaya Company and ¡Arte! Flamenco at the 2016 Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

Mercedes Amaya Company and ¡Arte! Flamenco
Vancouver International Flamenco Festival
September 16, 2016 | Vancouver Playhouse

The concentration; the passion; the rhythm. It never ceases to amaze me when I attend a flamenco show. These two companies, while not the best I’ve seen at this festival, still wowed with fiery footwork and a beautiful melding of music and movement.

¡Arte! Flamenco performed De Cal, Canto y Arena (Of Salt, Song and Sand) that emphasizes the relationship among the guitar (salt), song (the voice of the singer onstage), and the sand (representing the dancer’s movements). The piece began with Kari Alba letting sand fall through her fingers, the sound of it hitting the stage mingling with the pensive guitar at the back of the stage.

Read more: Mercedes Amaya Company and ¡Arte! Flamenco at the 2016 Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

Edgy contemporary dance never goes out of style

Dancing on the Edge wraps up an impressive 28th year

This year’s festival was as dynamic as ever, with more of a focus on local choreographers along with a few visitors from elsewhere.

Jennifer Mascall, who has been involved in the festival every year but one since it began, presented her new full length work, The Outliner, at St. Paul’s Church. The audience was seated on rolling pews that were moved around the space by many stage hands. For each segment of the show we were seated with a different perspective of the stage, and this was such a simple yet effective way to make the performance even more dynamic.

Read more: Edgy contemporary dance never goes out of style

Small Stage and Ballet BC join forces June 23-25 in Deer Lake Park

Ballet BC dancers have a long history of appearing in Dances for a Small Stage shows. Peter Smida, Maggie Ferguson, and Makaila Wallace, among others, have graced the small stage, but this is the second time the two companies have formally collaborated on a show. In 2010, just after Emily Molnar had taken over Ballet BC, she connected with others in the dance community, including Small Stage artistic producer, Julie-anne Saroyan, and their companies joined forces for the first time.

This time, the dancers are together as an ensemble, choreographing works on each other and driving the creative process and vision of the show.  “The first one was more presentational, but this show is coming from the dancers,” said Saroyan. Among the pairings are SFU dance alumna Vanessa Goodman who is choreographing a work on Ballet BC dancers Gilbert Small and Christoph von Riedemann.

Read more: Small Stage and Ballet BC join forces June 23-25 in Deer Lake Park

Serge bennathan's Just Words melds poetry and dance

Just Words – Les Productions Figlio

April 27 – 30; Firehall Arts Centre

Serge Bennathan steps to the front of the Firehall stage, a spotlight on him as he picks up a sheet of paper. He reads off a letter that he wrote to fellow choreographer and dance artist Grant Strate who passed away in 2015. The letter shows his respect for Strate as he says “we need your grace” as well as his thoughts on the importance of dance as an art form.

In personal, reflective interludes, Bennathan spoke directly to the audience and shared parts of his life, his experience as an immigrant, his desire to write a blog, to choreograph chaos, and he even shared an original poem with us. His words coloured the choreography as Karissa Barry and Hilary Maxwell translated the words into dance. Aside from directing his Vancouver-based dance company, Les Productions Figlio, Bennathan is also a writer and painter, and with this latest work he wanted to express himself through words and speak poetically. The love poem he shared with us, in French and then in English, was full of beautiful imagery and romantic tension.

Read more: Serge bennathan's Just Words melds poetry and dance

Keep on Trockin': men in pointe shoes are coming to Vancouver

The all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo will perform in Vancouver for the first time since 1985.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

What would have once only been considered fodder for variety shows or slapstick comedy, men dancing en pointe has become big business for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The all-male ballet company was founded in New York in 1974, and has performed in over 500 cities worldwide since.

Read more: Keep on Trockin': men in pointe shoes are coming to Vancouver

Ballet BC - No. 29

November 6 – 8, Queen Elizabeth Theatre

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Ballet BC’s 29th season opener was another triple bill of bold contemporary ballet. The show’s title, No. 29, also refers to their 29th new creation since renewing the company in 2009.

A.U.R.A. (Anarchist Unit Related to Art) by Jacopo Godani was first presented by Ballet BC in 2012, and this stark, minimalist work was worth seeing a second time. The lines of bright fluorescents hanging above the stage moved up and down to create very different moods throughout the piece. This work provided beautiful partner work between two of the male dancers and had a strong, aggressive tone that was emphasized by the blunt music of 48nord.

Read more: Ballet BC - No. 29

Dances for a Small Stage 31


October 25 2014, Ukranian Centre.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Collaborating with Music on Main, Dances for a Small Stage presented an evening that celebrated interdisciplinary work and the intersection of dance and music. Toronto’s Cecilia String Quartet opened the evening and remained onstage throughout, as maestro Billy Marchenski performed his emcee role, inspecting the musicians and moving around the stage with interest as they played.

The first half of the show featured the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky along with four dance pieces. Marchenski’s maestro was first, followed by Makaila Wallace performing Karissa Barry’s choreography. Almost as a fifth member of the quartet, Wallace’s movements had a direct connection to their music. Stewart Iguidez performed a piece inspired by street dance that was very popular with the crowd, and Vanessa Goodman’s piece was a unique interpretation of the music that emphasized its every note.

Read more: Dances for a Small Stage 31

Denise Clarke presents a new solo show

Wag is a personal story translated into movement.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Denise Clarke is an accomplished, respected contemporary dance artist who is a member of the Order of Canada. Over the course of her career she has been involved in all kinds of productions, but this show is personal.

Clarke entered from stage left wearing a large hooded parka and backpack, trudging along as if through a snowy field. That was in fact what she was doing. Through narration and commentary, Clarke told the story of her trek through an Edmonton park on her way to rehearsal two days before Christmas. She was on her way to rehearse this show, and began to wonder why she was bothering with a solo show that nobody would come to see.

Read more: Denise Clarke presents a new solo show

Grilo in Concert - Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

November 8, Vancouver Playhouse

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Joaquin Grilo is a powerhouse of flamenco talent. His fiery footwork and ability to embody the music was simply magical. His whole body was used to translate the flamenco guitar playing of Juan Requena and singing of Jose Valencia into fluid, precise movement. As the headlining show of the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, Grilo showed why flamenco is so powerful.

Grilo has won many awards, and his traditional flamenco technique is superb — this is what allows him to take that knowledge and add his own personality to his work. This show was full of Grilo’s sense of humour as he slyly looked at the audienced or paused for comedic effect. The crowd loved him.

Read more: Grilo in Concert - Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

Quantum is dance inspired by particle physics

Gilles Jobin created this piece in the wake of his residency at CERN.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin’s Quantum represents a blending of art and science. Jobin participated in Collide@CERN, an artist residency initiative of The European Organization for Nuclear Research, where he was inspired by particle accelerators and physics.

Quantum is what came out of that residency, and it demonstrates an awareness of patterns, clusters, and the idea that we are all made of these particles that are constantly moving. The piece begins with six dancers shaking frenetically on the spot, as the lights above them sway back and forth.

Read more: Quantum is dance inspired by particle physics

Crazy Smooth explores the concept of partnering with the music

Montreal's Bboyizm returns to Vancouver with Music Creates Opportunity.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

For most dance styles, the basis of choreography is the human body, but as Bboyizm’s choreographer Yvon ‘Crazy Smooth’ Soglo explains, street dance is different. “For a lot of contact improv and contemporary dance, bodies are the base of the movement — their weight and shape. I quickly realized that for us, the rhythm and the music is the base.”

This realization came out of workshops the company did with Sylvain Lafortune, who has a ballet background and a PhD in partnering. Soglo found analyzing the mechanics of partnering fascinating, and has always wanted to go back to these ideas that he had begun exploring a few years ago. “I never got a chance to get deeper and explore that possibility,” said Soglo.

Read more: Crazy Smooth explores the concept of partnering with the music

Dances for a Small Stage collaborates with Music on Main

Billy Marchenski discusses the new format for Dances for a Small Stage 31.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

The role of the emcee in Dances for a Small Stage is to facilitate transitions and provide a continuous storyline throughout the evening. “I’m the sorbet,” laughed Billy Marchenski, comparing his role to that of a palate cleanser between dinner courses. In this case, the courses will be dance performances by many renowned choreographers — including Holly Small — accompanied by classical music performed by Toronto’s Cecilia String Quartet and John Oswald.

This edition of Dances for a Small Stage is presented in partnership with Music on Main and has a new format featuring the quartet accompanying the dancers with works by Tchaikovsky and John Oswald. The emcee takes on a different form based on the theme of the show. For their Valentine’s Day edition, Marchenski was Cupid, and for this edition, he will play the role of maestro. 

Read more: Dances for a Small Stage collaborates with Music on Main

Ballet Preljocaj’s Empty Moves (parts I, II, & III)

Angelin Preljocaj’s company opened The Dance Centre’s Global Dance Connections series.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Set to John Cage’s Empty Words, this lengthy work featured four dancers completely in tune with each other and focused on the slightest of movements. The quartet demonstrated complete trust in each other as they manipulated each other into various positions and pushed and pulled themselves into elaborate formations where they were all connected. In the ultimate test of trust, one of the dancers stood straight up on the shoulders of another and fell backwards into the waiting arms of the other two.

With stiff, straight limbs, elaborate patterns, and many sequences of slow, deliberate movement, this choreography was fascinating to watch. There were a few contrasting sections of faster-paced movement with wonderful rhythms stomped out by the male dancers as they galloped around the stage. When all four of them moved in fast-paced unison, their fierce determination was a powerful sight.

Read more: Ballet Preljocaj’s Empty Moves (parts I, II, & III)

Judith Garay celebrates twenty years, twenty intersections, and twenty dancers

Dancers Dancing performed 20.20.20 at SFU Woodward’s.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Inspired by Vancouver, its intersections, and its people, 20.20.20 presented a new perspective of the city from September 24 to 27 at SFU Woodward’s. Judith Garay’s sharp, determined choreography was impressively performed by her company, Dancers Dancing.

The back page of the program declares that 20.20.20 is “inspired by interactions of architecture, pigeons, overpasses, green spaces, mountain views, skateboards, and . . . people young and old.” I could see elements of each of these influences throughout the piece, most notably the pigeons. At certain points, the dancers flocked in pigeon-like fashion, moving in a stylized way that clearly evoked birds. They also seemed to emulate flamingoes at one point, standing on one leg for an extended period of time.

Read more: Judith Garay celebrates twenty years, twenty intersections, and twenty dancers

Dance House brings Wayne McGregor back to Vancouver

Random Dance will perform their cerebral work, Far.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

With a computerized pin board of 3,200 LED lights serving as the backdrop to Wayne McGregor’s latest work, Far, this acclaimed UK choreographer is playing with ideas of cognition and enlightenment. McGregor was last in Vancouver with Entity in 2012, and Dance House producer Jim Smith said that this production has a different tone.

Far is a darker piece musically. The sound is a darker journey of trying to get to enlightenment, and there’s an ambient feeling.”

Read more: Dance House brings Wayne McGregor back to Vancouver

Experimental Edge of Dance

Another successful Dancing on the Edge festival comes to a close

First published in The Peak.

By: Tessa Perkins

Another crop of contemporary dance works have graced Vancouver during the 26th annual Dancing on the Edge festival’s ten-day span. This year saw over 30 works, a strong partnership with the Scotiabank Dance Centre, many outdoor and site specific performances, and even a Family Dinner where the audiences were the guests at the table.

The mixed programs at Dancing on the Edge allow for a variety of choreographic styles in one evening, and the site specific works add another element of scenery, integrating the space into the work, but I opted to attend five of the full programs this year to see some full-length works by developed and emerging artists.

Read more: Experimental Edge of Dance

Karen Jamieson is flying solo

A full length dance work, solo|soul attempts to bridge our inner and outer worlds.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

“Solo work hasn’t been a big interest of mine,” said choreographer Karen Jamieson, “but I knew this work needed to be solo.” Her new work, solo|soul, explores transformations from muscle to energy, aging, and how our inner world communicates with our outer being. She’s thinking of the body as a temporary garment. 

The work was created over three years in dialogue with other dance artists of different aesthetics, traditions, and ages. These danced conversations formed the basis of her research and this show is the culmination of that work. The artists she worked with include Serge Bennathan, Peter Bingham, Josh Martin, Jennifer Mascall, and Darcy McMurray.

Read more: Karen Jamieson is flying solo

Feast your eyes at Dancing on the Edge

A wide range of choreography will be on display throughout the city.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

SFU alumna Katie DeVries is thrilled about showing her work for the first time at contemporary dance festival Dancing on the Edge. “It’s a pretty big honour — I’m an emerging artist, so it’s a great privilege to be alongside these experienced artists.” DeVries is a big fan of another SFU alumna, Vanessa Goodman, who will perform her newest full length work, what belongs to you, at the festival. 

Read more: Feast your eyes at Dancing on the Edge

Ballet BC alumna Makaila Wallace begins a new chapter

Dances for a Small Stage: Summer Lovin' presents works by local choreographers.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Makaila Wallace is embarking on a new chapter of her career. After almost 11 years with Ballet BC, she is now an independent artist looking for new adventures and exploring all the possibilities for her future. “It was time for a change,” said Wallace, “I just felt as though I needed more time and space for other interests I have.” 

Since leaving home at 14, Wallace has always been part of a major ballet company. First the Royal Swedish Ballet, then Royal Winnipeg, and most recently Ballet BC. After 15 years as part of a formal company, she’s looking for a change. “I’m allowing myself time to transition and readjust,” she said, explaining that she wants to remain curious. 

Read more: Ballet BC alumna Makaila Wallace begins a new chapter

The Art of Stealing - Amber Funk Barton

“I create avatars as opposed to characters.” - Amber Funk Barton 

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

How does a contemporary dance show inspire a Lululemon capsule collection? Amber Funk Barton is still surprised that she can now say she has her own clothing line, and she feels so grateful for the experience. “I feel that both organizations have truly had a collaboration and been inspired by each other,” she said. “They’ve been so supportive and respectful. It’s been a true artistic exchange.”  

Read more: The Art of Stealing - Amber Funk Barton

Mother Tongue adapts the poetry of Lorna Crozier and Erin Mouré to the stage

“There’s a tremendous amount of untapped material in poetry.” – Conrad Alexandrowicz, artistic director

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Described as “poetic movement performed by actors, dancers and musicians,” Wild Excursions Performance’s new show transforms poetry into physical theatre. “It’s kind of like adapting one marginalized, ignored, misunderstood art form to another,” laughed artistic director Conrad Alexandrowicz. 

Read more: Mother Tongue adapts the poetry of Lorna Crozier and Erin Mouré to the stage

Peter Chu talks Dances for a Small Stage and finding balance

Dances for a Small Stage presents a Valentine's Day themed evening.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Peter Chu might as well be Canadian. He loves Vancouver and keeps coming back to work with companies like Kidd Pivot and be a part of shows like Dances for a Small Stage. “I’ve danced and worked for Canadian companies my whole career. It’s hard sometimes coming back to the US,” said Chu. The creative team he works with as part of his own company, chuthis, is made up of many Canadians including costume designer Linda Chow and composer Jean-François (Djeff) Houle. His management and PR team is also based in Vancouver.

Read more: Peter Chu talks Dances for a Small Stage and finding balance

The 605 Collective remount Inheritor Album

Inheritor Album is an hour-long barrage of high energy dancing.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Adapted from their previous version of this work, the 605 Collective have re-mounted Inheritor Album with some new cast members, allowing the work itself to symbolise the theme of inheritance and succession. I saw the previous version at the Dancing on the Edge Festival in 2012, and I was eager to see it again in its new form.

Read more: The 605 Collective remount Inheritor Album

Chutzpah! 2014 - BodyTraffic

The company presented a world premiere and two Canadian premieres.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Body/Traffic is a LA-based dance company with a unique philosophy and supportive work environment. As co-director Tina Finkelman Berkett explains, “We’re 10 individuals who love what we’re doing and we want to share our work in a passionate, generous way.” They will be sharing this work with Vancouver as part of the Chutzpah Festival, presenting three pieces, including a world premiere and two Canadian premieres.

Read more: Chutzpah! 2014 - BodyTraffic

Chutzpah! 2014 - Donald Sales

Donald Sales of Project20 talks gr33n, dancing with honesty, and electronic music.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

For Donald Sales, a great dance performance all boils down to honesty. “I think what draws an audience in is not your physical ability to execute dance moves, that’s nice to see, but what really draws one in is when you’re absolutely honest and vulnerable on stage and not trying to be someone else,” Sales said.

Read more: Chutzpah! 2014 - Donald Sales

Chutzpah! Plus 2014: Sidra Bell Dance - Stella and Garment

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

New York’s Sidra Bell Dance is a bold company that presents innovative works dealing with gender and identity. “My work lives in a world of darkness,” said artistic director Sidra Bell.

The theme of gender reversal comes up often in her work, which she said is “subconsciously purposeful,” and her perspective of identity and gender shapes her creations: “I’m fluid with identity. It’s either neutral or fluid, the way I approach the body. It can be considered political, but it’s just how I saw things. It’s an element that’s always been there.”

Read more: Chutzpah! Plus 2014: Sidra Bell Dance - Stella and Garment

Perfect Imperfection - ImPerfect Dancers at Chutzpah! Festival 2014

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

While dancers are always searching for perfection, Walter Matteini, co-artistic director of ImPerfect Dancers, explains that they can never achieve it. “True perfection lies in imperfection. Our dancers are all different — like a puzzle, each one completes the other.” The dancers may not be able to achieve perfection on their own, but as a group their combined imperfection brings them much closer to that ideal.

Read more: Perfect Imperfection - ImPerfect Dancers at Chutzpah! Festival 2014

Ballet BC’s Grace Symmetry features the work of Wen Wei Wang, Kevin O’Day, and Medhi Walerski

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

With two world premieres, Grace Symmetry, Ballet BC’s audience favourite, will showcase the works of three diverse choreographers. Vancouver’s Wen Wei Wang is remounting his work In Motion, which was performed by the company in 2011. “It’s nice; the first time it was very fast and the second time I’m able to make a few changes,” said Wang, “I feel much better. The dancers are more relaxed and they understand it better, can make it look better.”

Read more: Ballet BC’s Grace Symmetry features the work of Wen Wei Wang, Kevin O’Day, and Medhi Walerski

Porno Death Cult: Faith and Faithlessness

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

Everyone believes in something — it’s how we survive life and deal with existence. “We’re all dealing with the same things, we just use different tools to cope,” said Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg.

Whether you’re Christian, Bhuddist, athiest, or none of the above, you’ll find something to relate to in Friedenberg’s new dance-theatre work Porno Death Cult. The show is about faith, what that means, and figuring out what you believe in.

Read more: Porno Death Cult: Faith and Faithlessness

East Meets West: Vancouver International Dance Festival

Vancouver’s Goh Ballet teams up with China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company for VIDF.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

For their first performance at VIDF, Vancouver’s Goh Ballet is collaborating with China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC) for a historic interdisciplinary show.

“Opportunities like this for young dancers — to be at a festival and share the stage with a different style and culture of company — will enrich their future development,” said Chan Hon Goh, Artistic Director of the Goh Ballet. “I hope they will take something very special away from it.”

Read more: East Meets West: Vancouver International Dance Festival