2009

Every year, the "Vancouver International Dance Festival":http://www.vidf.ca/ features some of the world’s best butoh artists. Originally created as a butoh festival in 1997, the "VIDF":http://www.plankmagazine.com/review/dance/vancouver-international-dance-... has since blossomed to include all forms of dance, but each year continues to highlight butoh.

This may not come as a surprise, seeing as the festival shares the same directors as one of Vancouver’s favourite dance companies, butoh practitioners "Kokoro Dance":http://www.kokoro.ca/.

*Flower*, one of the butoh offerings at this year’s VIDF, is a collaboration between Japanese artist Yoshito Ohno and Montrealer Lucie Grégoire. Ohno is the son of the great...

Flower with Lucie Gregoire and Yoshito Ohno, sometimes absurd sometimes sentimental; photo: Michael Slobodian

This production by the "Evolving Arts Collective":http://evolvingartscollective.com/ misses the mark, though it is not for lack of trying. The costumes, the set, and the lighting have all been thoughtfully designed. The actors are talented and invested. But despite these earnest good intentions, the show flounders in mediocrity.

*Beggars in the House of Plenty* is the story of three children and their parents seen through the eyes and memory of the youngest son. It is not pretty. Though occasionally funny, the family dynamics are ultimately malicious and destructive. Perhaps part of the problem with the show is its unrelenting darkness....

Family life can be hell: beggars in the house of plenty

Entering the world of "Louise Bédard":http://www.lbdanse.org/ is a lot like wandering into a funhouse of the surreal. There is the sound of clocks ticking out of sync, dancers twitch and writhe as though overtaken by hallucinogenic drugs while being choreographed by a bossy robot.

A stuffed dinosaur appears on stage and one dancer produces a large teddy bear that becomes the object of her demented affection. All of this has the potential to nose dive straight to the place where obscure dance goes to die, yet *Enfin Vous Zestes* ( _Finally, You Are_ ) which was performed as part...

Louise Bedard Danse, photo by George Krump

I wish I could tell everyone to run out and see *Pichet Klunchun and myself*, part of this year’s "Vancouver International Dance Festivalh":http://www.vidf.ca/, but it ended last Saturday and that’s a damn shame. Anyone interested in contemporary performance, and why it’s worth doing and seeing, would have found illumination and inspiration from this piece.

The show’s structure is simple yet contains a world — no, two worlds—of insight. "Pichet Klunchun":http://www.pklifework.com/, a classical Thai dancer, and "Jerome Bel":http://webamilease.amilease.fr/jeromebel/eng/index.asp, a French contemporary choreographer, investigate each other’s poesis. In doing so the traditional and the post-modern are laid bare as...

Pichet Klunchun and Jerome Bel cultures meeting

There it is again. Vancouver. Spread across a huge screen that is the backdrop for *Two Night Stand*: an interdisciplinary performance, part of the current "Vancouver International Dance Festival":http://www.vidf.ca/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1, it features four musicians, one singer, two butoh dancers, and a beautiful time-lapse film by Clancy Dennehy.

In recent years, local theatre and dance artists have turned their gaze on the city and found new ways to transfer aspects of its elusive nature into the concentrated frame of a theatre. The film in *Two Night Stand* begins with the downtown skyline and the restless, jittery motion of an army of...

Tanya Tagaq, lounge-singer-meets-designated-mourner in two night stand

Finally: this is where "bharatanatyam":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharatanatyam is going; this is where it has a future as a contemporary dance form. In a city as diverse as Vancouver, with such a large South Asian population, why has it taken me so long to see a successful contemporary version of this form?

For those unfamiliar with this exquisite form of classical Indian dance, bharatanatyam is steeped in centuries of tradition and mythology. From what I’ve seen, and from the little I know of it, bharatanatyam seldom lends itself well to modernization - not only is the movement incredibly symbolic and sacred, the...

Nova Bhattacharya provides a primary view as part of this year's VIDF

The Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret is a collection of thirty or more multidisciplinary performance artists. They have recently been given a commission from the Pivot Legal society to investigate the meaning of the word “justice”. The concept they arrived at through a process of collaboration with each other, and with their community, is that the core essence of justice is an action. The act of listening.

Beginning with this idea they have created a wild and energetic two and a half hour extravaganza involving dance, theatre, music and visual art. All of this came together for their performance run at the...

Listening to the Jar is Meris Goodman as the Seeker, with Crystal Draper, Candice Curlypaws and Alex Danard; photo by Christache Ross

Last night I watched Nanay, a testimonial play. Staged at Chapel Arts, it is an archival look at Canada's Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) and its impact on Filipino families. When you arrive, you will be given a clipboard, a pen and a piece of paper which allows you to write down your questions during the performance. It also contains a short survey to complete which is intended to as an information-gathering tool for those who put together this play - namely researchers Geraldine Pratt and Caleb Johnston who are working in collaboration with the Philippine Women Centre of BC.

The...

Nanay, a testimonial play

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