Vancouver / Victoria

Women’s March Victoria 2018 – Photo Essay

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_DSK7207Beauty and the Beast – Ballet Victoria – Interview with Risa Kobayashi

Ballet Victoria concluded its 14th season with Beauty and the Beast, set to music by Delibes, Dvorak, Gounod, Tchaikovsky, and choreographed by Artistic Director Paul Destrooper.

17546660_1479471375420707_4816720211391473746_o#Radical Solidarity – Anne Wizorek at UVic

On March 23, 2017, I organized a Distinguished Women Scholar Lecture at the University of Victoria and invited the leading German feminist activist, Anne Wizorek, to give a talk and participate in a group discussion on intersectional feminism.

Alice-Munro_0331Alice Munro Stories – Belfry Theatre

Belfry Theatre’s production Alice Munro Stories presents two of Munro’s celebrated short stories – “Differently” (from Friend of My Youth, 1990) and “Save the Reaper” (from The Love of a Good Woman, 1998) – in an all new theatrical format, word for word. Last year, director Anita Rochon (who created How to Disappear Completely, Through the Gaze of a Navel, and KISMET one to one hundred) and the Belfry’s Artistic Director Michael Shamata travelled to San Francisco to meet with JoAnne Winter and Susan Harloe from Word for Word, which since 1993, creates theatre using only the words as they were written by the original author.

_mg_5812-1-photo-john-hall_-1463594735Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal – Interview with Matthew Cluff

To conclude its 20th anniversary season, Dance Victoria presented Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal performing Minus One, choreographed by Ohad Naharin, the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, on April 7 and 8, 2017 at the Royal Theatre. Minus One is an homage to dance and dancers, with all 33 dancers of the company becoming both interpreters and inventors of movement.

Midsummer cover by Derek FordA Midsummer Night’s Dream, Le Banc, and Luminous – by Ballet Victoria

In its 14th season, Ballet Victoria presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream, set to music by Felix Mendelssohn and choreographed by Artistic Director Paul Destrooper, as well as two shorter pieces, Le Banc (The Bench) created by Destrooper with live Cello Suites by Bach performed by Leslie Atherton, and Luminous choreographed by renowned Canadian choreographer Peter Quanz to the music of Marjan Mozetich. The productions tour BC until March 31, 2017.

DV_Performances_2016_Lines_Sand_RJ_Muna_1805_AAlonzo King LINES Ballet

San Francisco’s Alonzo King LINES Ballet presented their double bill of innovative works at the Royal Theatre on March 10 and 11, 2017. Founded in 1982 by choreographer Alonzo King, the company understands ballet as a science – founded on universal, geometric principles of energy and evolution – and continues to develop a new language of movement from its classical forms and techniques. King calls his works “thought structures” created by the manipulation of energies that exist in matter through laws, which govern the shapes and movement directions of everything that exists.

Women’s March and Radical Solidarity – Photo Essay

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UK’s only all-male dance company, BalletBoyz, founded by former Royal Ballet lead dancers Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, returned to Victoria’s Royal Theatre with two new commissions on January 20 and 21, 2017. The double bill, called Life, premiered at Sadler’s Wells in April 2016 and features new works by internationally renowned choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos.The company thrills audiences and critics the world over with its distinctive style, fusing spectacular dance both energetic and graceful, with stunning music and film. Ten young dancers, handpicked through open auditions across the country, feature in an evening of exhilarating dance, stunning music and awesome talent.

_DSJ1669 copyCinderella – Ballet Victoria – Interview with Andrea Bayne

Ballet Victoria concluded its 13th season with Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella composed during the war years, and originally presented at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre on November 21, 1945 with Galina Ulanova in the title role. This is the company’s second Prokofiev ballet this season, after the highly acclaimed Romeo and Juliet, but unfortunately without its former lead, Matthew Cluff, who is currently performing in Vancouver Arts Club Theatre production of Billy Elliot, and will be headed to Montreal afterwards to dance with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal.

Billy ElliotBilly Elliot – Arts Club Theatre Vancouver – Interview with Matthew Cluff

From May 12 to July 10, 2016, Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre produced the musical Billy Elliot at the Stanley Theatre. With music by Elton John, lyrics and screenplay by Lee Hall, and based on the acclaimed film (dir. by Stephen Daldry, 2000), the musical is an inspiring tale of courage, ambition, and overcoming adversity. Set in 1984 County Durham’s coal miners community during Margaret Thatcher’s austerity politics and the miners’ strike (1984-85), this story focuses on 11-year-old Billy (Nolan Fahey), who finds his way into Mrs. Wilkinson’s (Caitriona Murphy) ballet class following his boxing lesson. Enthralled with dance and showing inherent ability, Billy is encouraged to audition for the Royal Ballet School in London, but he fears the reactions of his father (Warren Kimmel) and brother (Danny Balkwill), who are wrapped up in the escalating strike situation. Winner of 10 Tony Awards, this musical challenges gender stereotypes and celebrates creativity and arts despite the most severe economic and conservative obstacles.

Mary Poppins by the Canadian College of Performing ArtsMary Poppins – Canadian College of Performing Arts

The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) concluded its 18th season with Mary Poppins the Musical (based on the stories of P.L. Travers and the 1964 Walt Disney film). Directed by Alberta-native Darold Roles, under the musical direction of Heather Burns (born on Vancouver Island) and with choreography by Janice Tooby-MacDonald and Caitlenn Bull, this production is a high-caliber graduation project for many of the diversely-talented performers at CCPA, who are beginning their national and international careers this summer. To include the school’s 70 performing students, the production features two casts (Yellow and Pink casts) on alternating performances, on stage from April 22 to April 30, 2016 at the McPherson Playhouse.

Belfry Theatre - Puttin' on the RitzPuttin’ on the Ritz – Belfry Theatre

The Belfry Theatre concluded its 40th anniversary season with a revival of Don Shipley’s 1976 musical review that premiered at the theatre forty years ago: Puttin’ on the Ritz (immortalized by Fred Astaire dancing in a top hat and tails) that features some 50 iconic songs and musical numbers composed by Irving Berlin. Directed by the renowned director of Pacific Opera and former Belfry artistic director Glynis Leyshon, who first revived the review in 1994, this production stars the exceptionally talented Lauren Bowler (from this season’s musical Chelsea Hotel), Andrew MacDonald-Smith, Katrina Reynolds, and John Ullyatt, and can be seen from April 12 to May 8, 2016.

Royal Winnipeg Ballet - Going Home StarRoyal Winnipeg Ballet – Going Home Star

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is currently touring Canada with its groundbreaking and deeply moving ballet “Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation,” which premièred in Winnipeg in October 2014, during its 75th anniversary season. On April 1 and 2, 2016 Dance Victoria brought the production to Victoria’s Royal Theatre, recognizing the significance of what the company’s artistic director André Lewis has described as “the most important dance mounted by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in its illustrious 75-year history.”

BetroffenheitBetroffenheit – by Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre 

Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre‘s co-production of “Betroffenheit” premiered in Toronto last July during the Pan American Games and caused an instant sensation. It has been touring Canada and performing to sold-out theatres. With the help of repetitions (of phrases, sounds, dance movements and segments) this two-act theatrical dance performance constructs a visualization of the inner space and the psychological terrain of the protagonist’s quest (played by ECT’s artistic director Jonathon Young) to come to terms with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after a horrific accident (rooted in real events, when Young lost his young daughter and two of her nieces to a cabin fire in 2009) that triggers a spiral of memories and various attempts to escape.

Ballet Victoria, Romeo and JulietProkofiev’s Romeo and Juliet – Interview with Paul Destrooper

For its third performance this season, Ballet Victoria, under the artistic direction of Paul Destrooper, presented Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Originally created in January 1940 by the Kirov Ballet (Mariinsky) in St. Petersburg and performed at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1946 with Galina Ulanova in the lead role, the ballet became immensely popular with audiences around the world after the Bolshoi toured in Britain and the U.S. in 1956 and 1959. In 1965, Sir Kenneth MacMillan choreographed it  for the Royal Ballet  at Covent Garden, with Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in the title roles. Subsequently, Nureyev created a new version in 1977. The ballet was first performed in Canada in 2011 by the National Ballet of Canada, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky in Toronto.

Photo Raphaelle Bob GarciaLes Ballets Jazz de Montréal – Interview with Alexander Hille

Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal opened their triple-bill show at the Royal Theatre in Victoria (Feb. 26 and 27, 2016) with “Rouge,” choreographed by the Brazilian Rodrigo Pederneiras, conceptualized as an “ode to resilience, a discreet tribute to Native peoples and their musical and cultural legacy,” with original music by the brothers Grand (originally premièred in 2014).

Ballet Victoria, The Gift, photo Richard WebberThe Gift – by Ballet Victoria

Ballet Victoria, under the artistic direction and with choreography of Paul Destrooper, re-imagined and re-interpreted the perennial Christmas favourite story of The Nutcracker in their unique rendition that blends timeless music and dancing with a modern story twist that brings together myth, fairy-tale, and contemporary characters from everyone’s favourite films and stories.

Alberta Ballet's Nutcracker (photo by Paul McGrath)The Nutcracker – by Alberta Ballet

Ever since The Nutcracker premièred at the ImperialMariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on December 18, 1892, originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and a libretto adapted by Alexandre Dumas Père from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice,” the ballet has captivated audiences of all ages around the world. Very few other works of art have had such a lasting, persistent, global, and undisputed appeal. This 123-year-old ballet is performed every holiday season in most major cities in Canada, U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Cuba, China, Japan, and beyond.

Meet Me In St. Louis - logoMeet Me in St. Louis – by Victoria Operatic Society

Ever since Judy Garland sang “clang, clang, clang went the trolley…” in the 1944 MGM musical directed by Vincente Minnelli (whom she married in 1945), Meet Me In St. Louis became a canonical staple of musical theatre, famous for its many memorable musical numbers and songs by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane.


Claus Jahnke CollectionClaus Jahnke’s Fashion Collection

I first met Claus Jahnke, the Vancouver-based fashion collector of German and Austrian fashion and fashion artefacts, in 2010, a few month before my first book on Berlin fashion, Berliner Chic, came out. He invited me to his house and showed me his incredibly rich collection of Berlin- and Vienna-made clothes from the 19th and 20th centuries that have migrated across the Atlantic ocean during the multiple immigration waves from Europe to North America.


Marat / Sade (photo by Brian Wilson)Marat / Sade

The Canadian College of Performing Arts (CCPA) opened its 18th season with “Marat / Sade” a play in two acts by the German dramatist Peter Weiss, originally performed at the Schiller Theater in West-Berlin in April 1964, entitled Die Verfolgung und Ermordung Jean Paul Marats, dargestellt durch die Schauspielgruppe des Hospizes zu Charenton unter Anleitung des Herrn de Sade (The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade).

Ballet Rocks! (photos by Gail Takahashi)Ballet Rocks!

Ballet Victoria opened its 13th season with “Ballet Rocks” that featured five original pieces (including three world premieres) set to the rock music of Pink Floyd, BB King, Sting and U2, exploring various themes from loss to love in the first act. The second act was an homage to Broadway classics (including Fame, Sweet Charity, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, All That Jazzand more), driving a balletic comedy where an aging star reluctantly faces her decline and passes on the torch.


Vancouver Fashion Week (photo by K.Sark)Vancouver Fashion Week 2015

The SS16 edition of the Vancouver Fashion Week opened with local Vancouver designers, who showed a wide range of styles from casual to haute couture.  For 25 seasons, Vancouver Fashion Week has produced a runway that celebrates multiculturalism and emerging talent. Here are a few of the local Vancouver designers to look out for.


Speed-the-Plow by David Mamet – Belfry Theatre

Speed the Plow at Belfry Theatre (photo by David Cooper)The Belfry Theatre in Victoria celebrates its 40th anniversary season this year and opens with Mamet’s play directed by Toronto-born Michael Shamata (Artistic Director of the Belfry Theatre since 2007). The play originally premiered on Broadway in 1988 with Ron Silver and Joe Mantagna in the leading roles, and was Madonna’s Broadway debut in the role of Karen. The Victoria production features North Vancouver actor Brian Markinson (known from Mad Men and Charlie Wilson’s War), Vancouver actor Vincent Gale (Big Eyes and Hector and the Search for Happiness), and UVic graduate Celine Stubel.

When in Victoria…

I am always happy to discover new and original shops and boutiques in Victoria. Here are some I frequented over the holidays and would recommend to everybody visiting Victoria and living there.


Victoria Cafés, Restaurants, and Pubs

I’ve lived in Victoria for over 10 years and know its café and food culture quite well. I come back once or twice a year, and I am always pleasantly surprised by new quality food places and coffee shops. Of course there are also the good old favorites, like Spinnakers or Sticky Wicket that never lose their charm. Here are some of my recommendations.


Vancouver Cafés, Pubs, and Restaurants

I come to Vancouver at least once or twice a year and stay with my best friend Charlie, and love to try out new cafés, pubs, and restos, or go back to old favorites. Vancouver has some of the best pubs and breweries. And lots of outdoor patios and terraces in the summer. Here are some of the best I’ve found so far. It is primarily limited to the downtown areas, but I will try to branch out in the future.


Berlin Fashion Treasures in Vancouver

Berlin is chic. And as it turns out, traces of its style, culture, and history can be found all over the globe. Along with the pieces of the Berlin Wall that have been sold to amusement parks and museums around the world (Montréal has a piece at the Centre de Commerce Mondial), Berlin culture and fashion is beginning to transcend borders. Having established various “locationalities” of Berlin fashion in cultural establishments such as film, photography, music, museums, and fashion shows, I could not help but notice how far Berliner Chic stretches.

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