Vancouver’s dance talents dominate stage
Local dance talent really takes 2
the spotlight this autumn, with homegrown artists like Josh Beamish, Vanessa Goodman, Deanna Peters, and Shay Kuebler staging ambitious full-evening creations.
It’s a sign our dance scene is thriving and nurturing a new generation of artists. Need more proof? Check out the 11th biennial Dance in Vancouver, November 21 to 25 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, which showcases rising West Coast names like Meredith Kalaman, Aeriosa, and Julianne Chapple.
This list only highlights the fall, but watch for two big shows—also by big Vancouver talent—in the new year: a double bill by established mavericks Chick Snipper and Tara Cheyenne-friedenberg at the Firehall Arts Centre February 21 to 24, and the breathlessly awaited return of Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young’s Betroffenheit—a second chance to see Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre’s seminal, Olivier Award–winning exploration of grief for those of you who missed the unforgettable sold-out run last year at Dancehouse. Take our advice: don’t mess up this time.
SAUDADE (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from September 20 to 23) Choreographer Josh Beamish returns to town with a yearning work for six male dancers. The title comes from a Portuguese word that translates loosely as a driving desire for the unattainable. Set to solo cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score, it explores fleeting relationships and the way they stick with us long after they’re over. The Draw: A team of dancers whose credits include Nederlands Dans Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and La La La Human Steps. Target Audience: Anyone who knows that breaking up is hard to do.
EMBRYOTROPHIC CAVATINA (At the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre from September 20 to 23 and September 26 to 29) Kokoro Dance’s Barbara Bourget, Jay Hirabayashi, Molly Mcdermott, and Billy Marchenski navigate life and death and almost everything in between, all to a moving orchestral score by Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner. The Draw: Stripped down literally and figuratively, the show is a chance to revel in the raw power of the company’s butohinspired work. Target Audience: Butoh buffs and viewers who like to get at the meat of our existence.
FEASTING ON FAMINE (At the Firehall Arts Centre from September 27 to 30) Radical System Art’s Shay Kuebler turns his considerable physical and comedic chops onto the bodybuilding world, in all its obsession. The Draw: An early excerpt from this at the 2015 Dancing on the Edge fest turned head-to-toe shaving into high art and morphed muscleman poses into a warped stop-start ballet. It’s hilarious, awe-inducing, and accessible. Target Audience: Protein-shake-pounding weightlifters—and anyone who’s ever obsessed over a calorie.
ALL WAYS (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from October 12 to 14) Compañia Sharon Fridman is named for the celebrated young talent who founded it in Madrid, after training and performing in Israel. The pieces on view here play complex games with contact improv—flowing, intensely physical pieces, the former a duet, the latter
HASTA DONDE…? +
a swirling, urgent creation for seven crack dancers. The Draw: The chance to suss out a younger generation of Israeli choreographers, and see if it’s as red-hot as the one that preceded it. Target Audience: Contact-improv fans and those on the lookout for something new.
ANIMAL TRISTE (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from October 19 to 21) Sad animals, indeed: that’s how choreographer Mélanie Demers presents us humans in her hard-driving fourhander, presented by Vancouver’s plastic orchid factory and her MAYDAY company. The quartet of dancers— plastic orchid’s James Gnam, Marc Boivin, Brianna Lombardo, and Riley Sims—are androgynous, pearl-draped creatures climbing toward civilization but ever falling into their animal existence. The Draw: A rare West Coast taste of the Montreal avant-garde, wrapped in those alluring pearls. Target Audience: Boundary pushers who like life on the edge.
META (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on October 27 and 28) Deanna Peters of Mutable Subject debuts the results of her well-deserved Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, putting her form-mashing style together with the talents of contemporary-dance artist Justine A. Chambers and hip-hop maven Kim Sato. Local designer Natalie Purschwitz provides the threads, DJ Ice-b spins the tunes, and lighting designer James Proudfoot illuminates the action. Expect surprises, a hybrid of styles, and a touch of the surreal. The Draw: The combined forces on this project are simply some of the coolest talents in town right now. Target Audience: If you know any one of these artists, you know who you are.
MORPHED (At the Vancouver Playhouse on October 27 and 28) Dancehouse’s season opener, Finnish sensation Tero Saarinen, crafts a cracklingly fresh, contemporary ode to masculinity. A stage surrounded by swaying ropes and Esa-pekka Salonen’s icy orchestral score adds atmosphere. The Draw: Saarinen’s work feels beautiful and refined yet raw and authentic at the same time. It’s somehow epic yet intimate. Target Audience: Fans of that crisp Nordic aesthetic and Finns who want to celebrate their centennial through art.
PROGRAM 1 (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 2 and 4) Ballet BC opens its season with a premiere by Cayetano Soto, its celebrated resident choreographer, and with the North American premiere of B.R.I.S.A., by Swedish star Johan Inger, an alumnus of Nederlands Dans Theater. The Draw: Local audiences already love the unpredictable Soto, but the return of work by Inger—whose theatrical Walking Mad was a major hit at Ballet BC a few years ago—should bring out the masses. Target Audience: Local balletomanes eager to see our topflight troupe set the bar even higher.
WELLS HILL (At the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward’s in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts from November 24 to 26) Dancehouse, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, and SFU’S School for Contemporary Arts join forces to celebrate Canada 150+ with a locally crafted work that could not be more fitting. Vancouver choreographer Vanessa Goodman has been honing this smart multimedia ode to the philosophies of Canadian icons Marshall Mcluhan and Glenn Gould for three years. The Draw: Wells Hill feeds your brain while conjuring an atmospheric blackwhite-and-grey visual world, too. Target Audience: Those who know that the medium is the message—and that movement can make it even better.
> JANET SMITH
Feasting on Famine Morphed
There may be other words for 2
the state of art music in Vancouver, but this year a “glut” seems most appropriate. Whether it’s because our town is finally becoming both cosmopolitan and sophisticated (if distressingly unaffordable), or because there’s been an influx of new blood into some of our most cherished cultural institutions, or because programmers have taken advantage of all that oncein-a-lifetime Canada 150 cash, we’ve never seen a season like this.
Particularly welcome are the return of year-round programming to the Vancouver Opera schedule, and the torrent of new and experimental compositions that will be presented as part of the International Society for Contemporary Music’s annual conference, held here for the first time and cohosted by Music on Main.
TIME TRACKS (At the Orpheum on September 22 and 23) The VSO’S season opener promises greatness—and something for everyone, too. Draw: The North American debut of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey’s title piece; accomplished former VSO concertmaster Dale Barltrop’s Australian String Quartet playing John Adams’s Absolute Jest for String Quartet and Orchestra; and Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky’s tempestuous Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. Target Audience: Everyone. Didn’t I just say that?
YEKWON SUNWOO PAVEL HAAS QUARTET
The(At the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on October 1) The Vancouver Recital Society’s season is heavy on pianists both emerging and acclaimed, but only Korea’s Yekwon Sunwoo has the distinction of having won the 2017 edition of the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The Draw: An instrumentalist some consider the world’s best in the under-30 category. Target Audience: Digital thrill-seekers.
TURANDOT (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from October 13 to 21) Vancouver Opera’s inaugural spring festival was an artistic success, but there are many who consider the company’s return to year-round production an even better gift. The Draw: Giacomo Puccini’s final score, which here will feature high drama in ancient China, Marcelo Puente singing “Nessun Dorma”, and a welcome distraction from the onset of winter. Target Audience: Ariatics.
MARIA POMIANOWSKA (At the Vancouver Playhouse on October 14) Think “Frédéric Chopin” and the mind almost invariably goes to the piano, but this Vancouver Chopin Society presentation is something else again. The Draw: Maria Pomianowska and her Polish folk players join a dance troupe, a chamber orchestra, and a bevy of local world-music virtuosos to reinterpret the great composer’s life and roots. Target Audience: Globetrotters and time travellers.
(At the Vancouver Playhouse on October 22) These Czech players are among the best of the new European quartets—and are sure to be one of the highlights of a solid Friends of Chamber Music season. The Draw: Early modernist masterpieces from Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Antonín Dvorák. Target Audience: Chamber-music connoisseurs.
CROSSCURRENTS (At the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on October 28) The astonishing percussionist Zakir Hussain has assembled a cast of Bollywood veterans and improv greats in a program that examines the almost century-old interplay between jazz and Indian classical music. The Draw: Dave Holland is the bassist. Has the man ever played
ISCM WORLD NEW MUSIC DAYS
(At various venues from November 2 to 8) The International Society for Contemporary Music brings its annual conference to Vancouver for the first time, giving local listeners a weeklong glut of the latest and best. The Draw: Music on Main’s astute artistic director, David Pay, curates performances by Lori Freedman, the Bozzini Quartet, Red Chamber, Turning Point Ensemble, NOW Ensemble, the VSO, and many, many more. Target Audience: Anyone interested in getting a graduate degree in contemporary music almost overnight.
ONE LAST SONG (At West Vancouver United Church and St. Andrew’swesley United Church on November 11) Chor Leoni’s annual Remembrance Day concert is both a hearttugging celebration of valour and a heartfelt prayer for peace. The Draw: Massed male voices delivering a message of hope, not an ultimatum for war. Target Audience: True patriots of all countries and cultures.
PAUL LEWIS (At the Vancouver Playhouse on November 19) Have we mentioned that the Vancouver Recital Society is this year’s go-to source for awesome pianists? The Draw: In the first of a four-concert series, the magnificent Paul Lewis compares and contrasts classical masterpieces from Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johannes Brahms. Target Audience: Perfectionists.
URI CAINE (At the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre on November 25) Parallels, a new community-based initiative organized in part by Vancouver New Music, pairs eclectic pianist Uri Caine with a string quartet and