(This story is sponsored by Asian Canadian Special Events Association.)
Living in a city that’s often described as a melting pot, Vancouverites get plenty of opportunity to celebrate diversity and learn about other cultures. The Lunar New Year presents one such chance to honour one of the oldest traditions in the Asian calendar, while also collaborating and engaging with Canadians of all backgrounds and communities.
To mark the upcoming Year of the Pig on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association, under the direction of the Society of We Are Canadians Too, is putting on the 10th annual LunarFest, a family-friendly gathering promoting artistic and cultural expression.
A festival highlight will be the full-length ballet production of The New Butterfly Lovers at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on February 3, 2019. The show, premiering in Vancouver, brings together esteemed local artists to tell a modernized version of the classic tale, often hailed as the Eastern Romeo and Juliet.
In what is sure to be a captivating interpretation, Canadian choreographer Joshua Beamish will use movement and ballet to share a brand new East-meets-West retelling of the traditional love story. This is the first time that Beamish, a Vancouver native, has worked on a Chinese narrative. But when Li Yaming, founder of Coastal City Ballet, approached him to choreograph the piece, he asked if he could produce it with the beautiful music that was composed for it—and Beamish relished the challenge.
The performance will be accompanied with SFUCO co-president Dan Jeremy Reyes’ rendition of The Butterfly Lovers violin concerto, along with the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra’s live performance, led by Taiwanese-Canadian conductor Ken Hsieh. And organizers hope that the show will become a regular contemporary ballet for the Lunar New Year, similar to The Nutcracker for the Christmas holidays.
“What I like about being able to create this work in Vancouver is that we’re in a unique position to have a fusion of so many different cultures collaborating on it, especially from Asia. I’ve grown up immersed in that. So for me to be able to create something in conversation with these existing cultures that are so prevalent in the city that I am from, I think it’s very beautiful,” says Beamish. “I feel very honoured that I’ve been asked to share my perspective on a story and a culture that isn’t my own. I think that kind of openness to exchange and to new ideas…it’s not an appropriation, it’s an invitation to take your story and think about what it means to me—I think that is important.”