For me one of the great pleasures of spending time in Vancouver is the city’s contemporary dance scene. It’s a hidden gem in the Canadian cultural landscape.

But lately I’m starting to wonder. Years after modern ballet has peaked and waned in Europe, the genre seems to be sweeping over Vancouver, putting the city’s dance community in a kind of modernist time warp. By the looks of it, local coverage of the scene (minimal as it is) has tended to celebrate what I consider to be a bit of a monstrosity, a dance-regression creature from the crypt (hey it’s...

Laura Hicks in He was swimming the other way, photo: Chris Randle

Show Blog: offers and camping

Author Name: 
Christopher David Gauthier

PLANK takes you behind the scenes of Studio 58's upcoming production of The Winter's Tale. Here, we follow Christopher David Gauthier who is the set designer on the project, from the first offer to opening night. Stay tuned for more from Christopher...

Photograph Caption: 
Christopher takes us behind the scenes.
Art Form: 

In his program notes, translator Errol Durbach describes past productions of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder he experienced as an audience member.

He explains how they were made unsatisfactory because of poor castings choices for the key roles of Halvard Solness (The Master Builder) and Hilde Wangel (the steely young thing that promises to be his sexual muse and business manager). 

The casting of these roles is crucial to making The Master Builder work on stage. Not only do we have to sense the sexual tension between Solness and Hilde, we also have to believe that together they represent...

Will you love me forever? The Master Builder, photo credit: Tim Matheson

As I took my seat with a cup in hand I was questioned by Dave, the fellow on my left, “Doesn’t that beer go against your professional code of ethics?”

Since I was drunk the first dozen times I enjoyed any Evil Dead movie, it goes against my code of ethics to not have a beer…  turned out I had to finish the beer quickly or I’d end up wearing it from laughing.

You may already be calling me a Deadite but I will confess, I was somewhat trepidatious before seeing the DSR production of Evil Dead:...

Scott Walters in Evil Dead

Just so everyone's clear: There are two versions of Evil Dead: The Musical playing in Vancouver right now.

One's a professional production by Ground Zero Theatre/Hit & Myth/Keystone which originated out of Calgary and is playing at the Vogue Theatre. You’ve probably seen the full page ads in newspapers for that one. Then there’s the other production, an “amateur” one by DSR Proudctions, that's filled with local talent and playing at the Norman Rothstein Theatre. It's a totally bizarre situation, especially as this highly anticipated musical is being touted as the new “Rocky Horror Picture Show”....

Evil Dead. Doesn't look like an amateur to me.

Provincial Essays seems an odd title for a work of contemporary dance: it evokes pastoral traditions, and vaguely suggests the image of a public figure-of-note in his or her sunset years retiring to the country to write memoirs – indeed, the original essays by Montaigne were a grab-bag of reflections on everything from diet to politics.

In Lola McLaughlan's Provincial Essays a sleepy pastoral backdrop proves the ideal setting in which to explore human and natural relationships, and the work does so with a subtlety and keen insight that belies any preconceived notions of parochialism.

Provincial Essays earns...

Provincial Essays

In Sara Coffin’s Dropped Signal, the set is made up of about eight weighted helium balloons on strings. Below them, two dancers (Jennifer Clarke and Sara Coffin) roll and move in low light.

When they stand, open and loosely balanced, they echo the slightly swaying, floating balloons, an impression that is reinforced later in the piece when faces and other images are projected onto the balloons. Like the dancers’ gentle presences, the balloons and the images projected on them are beautiful.  Are they thought bubbles? worlds? windows?  For me they evoked both the way the mind can be...

He was swimming the other way by MachineNoisy part of Dance in Vancouver

When I was nine, I was limited to three very enthusiastic topics of conversation: Helen Keller, Annie Sullivan, and whales. The latter was inspired by actual encounters (my Dad was a commercial fisherman), but my interest, um, make that obsession, with the deaf and blind Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan came from regular readings of their Scholastics biographies (both by Margaret Davidson).

Given my commitment to my childhood heroines, imagine my excitement and trepidation attending the Vancouver Playhouse season opening production of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, the story of Annie Sullivan coming to teach...

The Miracle Worker

With our bodies stuck in cars and cubicles and confining clothes all the time, it’s easy to forget what they can do.  The electric duet between Alvin Erasga Tolentino (dancer), and Emmanuel de St. Aubin (musician), presented by Company Erasga, that opened Program Four of this year’s Dance in Vancouver offers some possibilities.

How about snapping one’s head like a bird, angling the skull sharply to fix the gaze on different spots?  Or oscillating the hips, loose below the spine? Or gathering all of this vibration into a high release, arcing the back towards the sky and raising...

Box4 from Program 4 of Dance in Vancouver

Dance in Vancouver's Program Two featured work choreographed by Dana Gingras and performed by the 605 Collective and Animals of Distinction.

The 605 Collective: New Animal

choreographed by Dana Gingras
performed by Lisa Gelley, Sasha Kozak, Shay Kuebler, Josh Martin and Maiko Miyauchi.

New Animal is a delightful work full of vitality. Influenced by hip-hop and other forms of urban dance, it is distinctive for its rich communicative power. We tend to think of spoken language as our primary mode of communication but the word can refer to any “two agents which share a repertoire of...

Smash Up at Dance in Vancouver