Dance in Vancouver shines spotlight on Indigenous and international artists as it reflects these unusual times

The biennial festival includes performances, artists' talks, and films

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      One of the most anticipated events on Vancouver’s contemporary dance card has three cocurators this year. The 13th biennial Dance in Vancouver, which runs from Wednesday (November 24) to Sunday (November 28), features a wide range of ticketed and free events, which can be taken in live or online.

      The Dance Centre presents the festival, which is being steered by Melbourne-based guest curator Angela Conquet, Vancouver Raven Spirit Dance artistic director Michelle Olson, and Vancouver Raven Spirit Dance assistant artistic director Starr Muranko.

      In a phone interview with the Straight, Muranko said that the trio has embraced the theme “dance for unusual times” by ensuring that everything in the lineup is relevant to today’s times.

      “We’re asking people to slow down for a moment; take a break,” Muranko said.

      The cocurators also want dance lovers to really ask themselves what they’re witnessing at Dance in Vancouver.

      “What does it mean to come together in space either physically or online together?” Muranko said.

      The opening event features three short films by two local Indigenous artists, Sierra Tasi Baker and Tasha Faye Evans, all centred around Indigenous themes. That will be followed by a dialogue between two Indigenous thinkers in the arts: choreographer Dalisa Pigram (Yawuru/Bardi) and playwright, director, and dramaturg Yvette Nolan (Algonquin).

      Muranko said that she expects that this opening will convey concepts or ideas from Indigenous teachings that can help people come to terms with these tumultuous times.

      “Angela [Conquet] is very involved and very connected to different Indigenous artists in Australia,” Muranko said. “She’s an amazing ally in that regard.”

      One of the highlights on the ticketed program is a dance presentation of Cedar Woman. This is a work-in-progress created by Evans in collaboration with artist Ocean Hyland.

      Another ticketed performance is Dumb Instrument Dance’s Made in Voyage. It’s a trio of solos featuring Ziyian Kwan, Shion Skye Carter, and Justin Calvadores at Morrow (336 West Pender Street) from November 24 to 27 and from December 1 to 4.

      A third ticketed event, the Biting School’s Orangutang, will be at the Russian Hall on the same dates. It’s a world premiere choreographed and performed by Arash Khakpour.

      The other ticketed event is a double bill. Kelly McInnes’s Blue Space will be followed by Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien’s Mid-Light: A Translucent Memory at Scotiabank Dance Centre on Friday (November 26).

      International guest curator Angela Conquet played a major role in shaping this year's Dance in Vancouver lineup.
      A Mrozicki

      An international focus

      Muranko pointed out that there’s a wide variety of free events, including some with international perspectives.

      One example is a discussion between three artists from Asian diasporas: Nirmala Seshandri (Singapore), Priya Srinivasan (Australia), and Bageshree Vaze (Canada).

      Another discussion with Anna Chan (Hong Kong), Karen Cheung (Hong Kong), Bilqis Hijjas (Malaysia), and Faith Tan (Singapore) will address how Vancouver-based artists can gain access to the Asian independent dance scene. The moderator is Co.ERASGA founder Alvin Erasga Tolentino.

      The closing keynote dialogue will feature Dancers of Damelahamid executive and artistic director Margaret Grenier (Gitxsan/Cree) and Maori protean artist Charles Koreneho.