Vancouver

Frankly, the title says it all -- because that's what I was doing throughout most of the show.  Screaming Silently is a trainwreck, I'm afraid, and no amount of cute stage business or earnest delivery can save it.  The play is about four adult siblings reunited upon the death of their egomaniac film-director father, one Giles Forbes.  In the style of such stories, the siblings return home to pay their last respects and rivalries and dark secrets emerge.

The central flaw as I see it is that the playwright, Shane Rochon, takes on far more than he can handle with this...

Screaming Silently

"Dances for a Small Stage 23" was much more of a cohesive performance than I was expecting. The MC's did an admirable job of weaving a story around each vignette. I liked the frame story, there was a good through line, it provided a reasonable explanation for the vignettes and the bookends mirrored each other nicely.

My inner-goth adored the graveyard theme and Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg cut a stunning figure as Mrs. Graves. Her performance was beautiful and correct, but despite perfect pitch, projection and mannerisms, I felt there was something missing. An authenticity of feeling, a depth...

Dances for a Small Stage 23

Remember your mother telling you to finish your dinner because children were starving in Africa? As its central motif, ‘Nigeria’ contrasts the spiritual wealth of Africa with the obsession with monetary wealth, spiritual bankruptcy and ennui of life in West Vancouver. In spite of its dazzling verbal gymnastics, the play often feels clichéd. And then, in a refreshing u-turn, the playwright questions the authenticity of his own premise.

The performances are uniformly excellent. Quelemia Sparrow as Kris is superbly crisp and confident, while harboring a barely contained desperation. A high-powered, wheeler and dealer in the financial markets, Kris wears...

Nigeria

Ihtsi-pai-tapi-yopa—Essence of Life— by Coyote Arts Percussive Performance Association (CAPPA), brings story and movement from the Blackfoot-Blood-Kanai culture to the contemporary dance stage.  Using lights and background video (Craig Alfredson), a soundscape ranging from bear growls to night-club beats (Sandy Scofield), and the strong, often animal-inspired movements of the three male dancers, the piece tells of bird men who become lost and full of conflict in an urban landscape, but are guided to a renewed sense of balance by a bear spirit.  The story they tell of urban stress and the presence of an intervening, powerful, ultimately benevolent nature spirit—of...

Ihtsi-pai-tapi-yopa—Essence of Life

Part of the 22nd annual Dancing on the Edge Festival, Status Quo is a dynamic and visceral hour-long journey through two solo pieces and one quartet.  Choreographed and performed (in part) by Shay Kuebler and Amber Funk Barton, the mandate of Status Quo is to “create movement that is dynamically bold and emotionally captivating due to its velocity, speed, musicality and articulation.”  Drawing from a variety of dance techniques (to this untrained eye, there were glimpses of pop and lock, breakdancing, modern, and even ballet), the pieces seemed to physically articulate the relationships and fragmentation of our own society.   ...

Status Quo

The Chutzpah! Festival coninues: on March 8th Sidra Bell Dance and Gallim Dance of New York presented a double-bill performance. Though vastly different in style, neither Sidra's Bell's “Anthology” nor Gallim Dance's “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil” overtly showed their conceptual underpinnings. Both companies focused on the purely physical rather than intellectual. Sidra Bell Dance explored polarities, representing the body as sultry and mechanical, while Gallim Dance shook things up with a wild, free-for-all performance.

Sidra Bell Dance presented, “ Anthology,” which focused on musculature, emphasizing strength so that bodies seemed charged with energy as they...

Gallim Dance

There are the words and the melodies I write, and there are the fusions that I create between ethnic groups, between currents and between people, and in the encounter between them everything is open ~ Idan Raichel

On March 4th the Chutzpah! Festival kicked off its tenth anniversary with a performance by the Idan Raichel Project, which treated visitors to the Chan Shun Concert Hall to a taste of the jazz inflected world music that is its forte. The Idan Raichel Project is known for fusing Israeli pop with music from around the world, from Ethiopia to Morocco and...
The Idan Raichel Project

Hong Kong Exile describe themselves as an interdisciplinary arts company. They are three emerging contemporary artists: Natalie Tin Yin Gan, a contemporary dance artist specializing in improvisation and interdisciplinary collaboration, Remy Siu, an emerging composer, and Milton Lim, a director/designer and multi-disciplinary performer. They met at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, and they formed the company in 2011.

Hong Kong Exile are a new company to me and there wasn’t much publicity information about the world premiere of their Room 2048 run at the Firehall Arts Centre, so I had no preconceived notion of what to expect....

Michelle Lui, Milton Lim, Alex Tam_9487 credit Remi Theriault

Last night I had the pleasure of attending Ballet BC’s Program 2, a unique collection of works in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday. While it is traditional for Ballet BC’s programs to include a world premiere work, this evening featured not one, but three world premieres! All four pieces were created in collaboration with BC companies, designers and artists, in line with Artistic Director Emily Molnar’s vision of supporting the work of Canadian choreographers.

Before the performance began, Molnar spoke to the importance of unity and togetherness in the artistic community, now more than ever. Using artistic expression to bring...

Alexis Fletcher and Kirsten Wicklund in Swan by Wen Wei Wang – photography Cindi Wicklund

Freeman’s 1971 classic is well presented in the spare but perfect space of the Cultch’s Historic Theatre. Anyone familiar with early 70’s rundown institutional design and maintenance should viscerally respond with phantom aromas of the vintage nicotine colour palette and poorly maintained porcelain and badly procured paint and cleaning supplies. The set design, faithfully detailed by Lauchlin Johnston, wafts off the stage to create the perfect hopeless venue for institutional hopelessness and despair, seemingly only steps away from the realms ruled by the monarch of orderly sadism, Nurse Ratched. There is a Godot-like quality to the explorations of the...

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