Dreamlike dance and literary forms push Powell Street Festival's boundaries

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      Music, meals, and traditional arts aren’t all that the Powell Street Festival has to offer, although to access some of its shows you’ll have to venture away from its outdoor stages.

      The early-20th-century Japanese literary form known as shishosetsu, which blurs the lines between memoir and fiction, will be resurrected at the Firehall Arts Centre on Sunday (August 3), with authors Sally Ito, Lydia Kwa, and Marie Mutsuki Mockett all musing on the Powell Street Festival’s 2014 theme: roots. The three will read excerpts from their festival-commissioned chapbooks, after which editor Leanne Dunic will host a Q&A session and signing.

      Asian Canadian sketch-comedy troupe Assaulted Fish plays the Firehall Arts Centre on Saturday (August 2); although the sextet shares a serious intent—the skewering and deflation of cultural stereotypes—it’s also roll-in-the-aisles funny, as witnessed by its various sold-out Fringe and comedy-festival showcases.

      Also at the Firehall on Saturday afternoon is emerging choreographer-performer Erika Mitsuhashi, who’ll add a third talent to her roster with this room has curved edges: composer. She’ll be dancing to her own electroacoustic score in this solo work influenced by the films of Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai.

      “His roots are in cinematography,” Mitsuhashi told the Straight in a telephone interview. “So the aesthetics of his films are very distinct, and he often utilizes slowing shots down—like slow-motion—which I find to be stunning. It kind of allows more space for the audience to see what’s happening.”

      The SFU–trained dance artist, whose father is Japanese Canadian, adds that not all of her work will be slow or dreamy. “I call different sections in the piece ‘rooms’, just as an entry point for the audience to see the space change. The piece just kind of keeps shifting: either by a split-second shift into something new—a new room—or through a really subtle shift where I enter a different environment or mental space.”