Archive for the ‘Performing Arts’ Category

Good Friday to Next Friday

May 3rd, 2014 No comments

The pseudo lent was 50% of the time successful in that I did have several days when I just did not stay off the restricted items of dairy, caffeine, wheat and sugar. The two common breech items were sugar (highly addictive) and wheat (often made with and into sugar). It was a strong affirmation that wheat and sugar are items that I really benefit staying aware from, if only for the reason that I feel so much better when I don’t digest them.

My lenten challenge was officially broken before Easter at the post-concert late night dinner on Good Friday. Our choir had just finished a hugely successful performance of Mozart’s Requiem that evening; an accomplishment I was not about to let pass without a celebration. We ate at India Oven on W 4th Ave. in Vancouver. The $10 pitchers of Phillips beer were a great value, and just a bonus to what was already a delicious meal of freshly made Indian dishes ranging from eggplant masala to fish curry and their famous butter chicken. I still managed to remain vegetarian at this dinner, though.

That was two weeks ago and now we are one week away from the first Many Ways of Mothering: evening of songs and real life stories taking place at Dunbar Heights United Church at 6:30pm. It is my tribute to the volunteer artists/advocates who nurture the voices of the those in search of their own unique expression. I’m not a mother and though it is not my experience, I recognize that Mother’s Day, like other holidays, can be a difficult time for different reasons to be around others who are celebrating. Maybe due to loss, infertility, envy even; all these are human experiences that needn’t keep us from honouring the many ways that we do nurture ourselves and others. Because for me, the mothering spirit is not marked by the act of giving birth, it is how one chooses to remain in relationship with that which is already alive.

Many Ways of Mothering, May 9, 2014.

Categories: Food, Performing Arts, Stories Tags:

Singing German in a Big Stone Church

August 16th, 2012 2 comments

In little over 10 weeks, I will have sung (however amateur) a most magnificent and intensely challenging choral work called Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der Heiligen Schrift – A German Requiem, to the Words of the Holy Scripture.

Johannes Brahms wrote this huge work of seven movements in 1868 and on August 25, 2012, the Summer Chor, directed by Alison Nixon, will present Brahms’ masterpiece in a big stone church in downtown Vancouver.  Even if you don’t believe in God, or you don’t think you like classical music, I really do think that there is something special in this event that almost anyone can enjoy.  Imagine producing an expression of your thoughts and feelings in a manner that resonates with so many, it gets reproduced 144 years after its creation.

SummerChor 2012 Concert Poster

Contrary to the words we sing, it does not feel like we’re singing about or to God in the same way when we sing hymns in English.  Once I actually mark my music with translations, this may change.  But really what I mean to say is this sacred music is in a class of its own.  Despite the language barrier, the music, sung in all four choral parts with piano and organ, offer up a journey of the human spirit through valleys and sunsets.

We started rehearsals in June, and for the first rehearsal I listened; barely singing a note due to an overwhelming sense of incompetence.  There is so much to coordinate: pitch, placement of vowels, making sense of German, rhythm, breathe support, dynamics (is it soft, quick, loud, lyrical etc.?), looking at the conductor and the music.  And then there is the fact that one singing does not really hear how one truly sounds. If you have ever recorded your voice, played it back and heared a voice slightly different from what you hear when you speak, you will know this to be true for singing as well.  It is the only musical instrument of its kind with the complication of human anatomy for producing and perceiving sound.

As we start rehearsals with the Dunbar Heights United Church Choir in September, more reflections to come on the process of learning to sing classical music.  Until then, come listen to Summer Chor at:

St. Andrew-Wesley Church, Burrard & Nelson                   Saturday, August 25, 2012, 7pm

Tickets at the door $15 (or $10 in advance until Aug. 22 from a choir member)

Renewing Vows to Artistry

June 21st, 2012 No comments

Today I contemplate what I would do with my time if I knew I would not fail and financial security were guaranteed. Art. The making of it, learning different disciplines, sharing the knowledge through teaching, performance, and facilitating collective art-making.

Why Art?  It’s often thought to be a bonus elective in schools, an activity we do “if we have time” after the very important tasks of running a household, business or community.  Because so many enjoy it and common is the belief that earned income must come through difficult unpleasant work, then it is quite understandable that we would think of the Arts as play for children, not for an adult serious about making a living wage.  And while it is feels good to write about it, there are uncomfortable challenges that come with choosing an Arts discipline as a profession.  Admittedly, I have had my moments of wishing that I could be someone I am not for the ability to take the well-worn path of other occupations with plenty of employment to go around and minimal risk.

The Arts, for me, is where the discovery of Self and Other meet, have a conversation, make-up alternate possibilities from our current reality and then dare us to live differently, sometimes more bold and hopefully, less afraid. It’s important work!  How else shall we communicate our inner world to the outer world but through the arts?  And were it not for this communication between inner and outer worlds, how else could we evolve our minds, our thoughts, indeed, our actions which create the world we experience?

Many people say they want a happy experience in this life.  Many want a clean world, a peaceful world, a joyful and loving world, but how many believe that the Arts practices are an important part of creating that?  Who of those protesting corruption, violence and environmental destruction will persist in advocating for the Arts?  It’s a connection not often made clear with of generations of programming about what gets desirable, monetized results in our industrialized society.  I believe the value of our artistic expression and creative thinking in general, is immeasurable, like the Self from which it emerges.  To protect the beauty, peace and joy in the world is to propagate the belief that the Arts are a vital lifeline for humanity.

The closest thing I know to marriage is my commitment to artistic expression.  Perhaps this marries me to all of humanity.  And like all marriages, it is the choice to renew the vow on a daily basis that makes the commitment real.  Today, I vow to honour my wacky artist self and persist in arts practices.  What do you do to strengthen your Artist?

Performing Siddhartha: The Journey Home

September 22nd, 2011 No comments

In December of 2010, I met Zamir Dhanji as participants in the Legacies workshop through Urban Ink.  In March, I met Jesai Jayhmes when I began apprenticing with the Vancouver Playback Theatre Troupe.  As a result of these two acquaintances and my determination to be part of the production, I became stage manager/assistant director for Siddhartha in late July.  By the third rehearsal, I was invited to be a dancer with the ensemble by the choreographer and the director.  While I love to dance, it was initially a difficult decision, since I was very much interested in direction and production, and I was not sure I would enjoy this butoh inspired type of movement.  In 4 weeks and 76 rehearsal hours, we grew and learned beyond our own expectations. By our third show, I had come to look forward to the cool gravel under my bare feet.

There were great challenges every step of the way and while I had moments doubt in the beginning, I am so happy that I stayed long enough to find out why I wanted to stick with it.  The experience affirmed my belief in theatre’s vital role in gathering community and my blissful enjoyment of expressing story through dance and movement.  Our audiences consistently responded with deep emotional connection and appreciation for the unique theatrical experience.  Each performance required a great deal of energy and focus which all came back to rejuvenate us through the generous audiences.  Here are a few images…

We received a Vancouver Fringe Festival award for the “most talked about” show.  We sold out all 3 shows two weeks before opening and had an extended show date for an invitation only audience.  To raise funds for remounting the show, we are having a fundraiser event on Sunday, October 2nd at Prana Yoga Centre.  Write me or comment to receive more details.  Thank you!

Categories: Performing Arts, Theatre Tags:

My Kingdom for Feminine Influence

August 31st, 2011 No comments

After spending the last four weeks as the only woman on a production team, I have learned a fundamental lesson about the importance of influence.  Influence is not the same as giving direction or having authority. The title of director, manager or producer come with the ability to influence and lead a group, only if those individuals are willing to be led by that person. It has been my experience in working with masculine-dominated teams, that if you want something done, give the idea to the one that all the other males respect and follow. And by give I mean, find a way to allow that person to take ownership of the idea/solution that you offer and detach from any need to take credit for it, voice it or be rewarded for your contribution in any way.  Why?  Because unless that male is more evolved and enlightened than the vast majority, a woman is unlikely to get the credit that she deserves.  The fundamental difference between the gracious woman and the immature version of her: the gracious woman is not bothered by the male taking credit for her idea because the reward is in knowing her truth, not in what others think.  The reward for her is in self-mastery and the calm of humility that is much deeper than a pat on the back or peer recognition.  While it is nice to be given tribute for one’s ideas, and it’s fair and reasonable to want that; there was a great deal of satisfaction in my experience when someone else aligned himself to my desire and made it his own.  And because of the level of respect the males had for him, the suggestion was embraced. How do I know that it would not have been taken in the same way if it had been me who spoke?  Because that strategy had already failed me on several attempts.  In fact, I might go so far as to say, that strategy has failed me most of my life.

The discovery of how a quiet one-to-one dialogue can yield the exact result I wanted with the larger group, was a surprise and a great relief.  No longer do I think that I need to be the one to directly speak to a problem.   In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes, it really is counter-productive (with some people!) to take a direct approach.  My preference is to be direct but I don’t control how people do with that, so I am learning to adapt with what IS, not how I would like behaviours to be.

Releasing attachment to “being right” and to “getting credit for my work” felt like I stepped more firmly into the wisdom of feminine influence.  A truly satisfying step.

What does beer and classical music have in common?

August 20th, 2011 No comments

I’m drinking a beer that is dated back to 1366 (Belgium’s Stella) after singing selections of music from 1791 and 1741, sitting in an apartment built in 1910, and typing this post on a laptop which will probably not last beyond 10 years.  While reflecting on the enduring qualities of this beer, the music and this building, I begin to wonder if those artists designed a century’s life-time into their products intentionally, or maybe it didn’t really occur to them at the time.  Perhaps they were inspired, acted on their impulses and longevity was simply a consequence of their integrity.

The music we sang was the Requiem composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  He died before he could finish composing it and the fact that it was added to by other composers and still lives on in choral concerts today, seems like a little miracle to me.  It was astutely noted by a musician friend of mine, who attended the concert this evening, that some of Mozart’s movements were very similar to some of Handel’s selections.  Was Mozart copying from Handel or were the similarities a result of the other composers’ styles being influenced by Handel’s popular work?

Today, while I was humming parts of the Requiem, the melodies coming out of my mouth were swinging back and forth between Requiem and songs from The Sound of Music.  Can the qualities of what makes one thing (music, for instance) last a hundred years also be applied to another, seemingly unrelated thing, (like beer) and result in a similar timelessness?

What about this website?  Does the internet have the capacity to sustain human engagement for another 200 years?  Will we run out of energy to power the technology and lose access?  Or, if it does live on indefinitely, will people be able to read this post and understand the cultural references?  Two separate, but equally miraculous things if they were to occur in 2201!

After all the technological tinkering of recent years, it seems very effective still to read choral music from books printed on paper, and to walk up stairs to get to the 2nd floor, and to drink beer in a glass.

I end today with a feeling of accomplishment because I managed to get through the concert without falling over (which I felt I might several times) and I actually sang these movements that are super challenging!  Deep gratitude and appreciation extends to all the people who sang the beautiful music at St. Andrew’s – Wesley United Church tonight, all those who attended to hear us, and all the conductors and choirs over the last 250 years that essentially made it possible for us to access this music today.

Fringe Siddhartha

August 16th, 2011 No comments

Less than a month ago I attended a musical “enchanted evening” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens with a fellow actor from the Vancouver Playback Theatre troupe to listen to some very talented musicians. He tells  me that he is directing a production for the Fringe Festival, based on the story of Herman Hess’ novel, Siddhartha.  I tell him I want to get more directing and producing experience.  By the end of the evening, I had become part of the ultra-talented team that is producing an amazing journey for Vancouver audiences.

The rehearsals are well underway and it’s exciting to see the choreography and actors develop so quickly.  I hope I can keep up, as it is my first time stage managing, along with some light assistant director duties. Today we had a production design meeting and from that, I was totally inspired and excited about the costumes!  The music, I should mention, is also gorgeous; featuring locals such as Buckman Coe and Pepe Danza!  Held in a beautiful urban oasis where East meets West, it will be a unique and moving experience for all.

There is a limit of 70 seats per show so definitely buy tickets in advance!  It’s expected to sell out.

Find out how to get tickets here.


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Walking through Manila’s history

June 10th, 2011 No comments

Just when I thought I knew my Filipino history, a remarkable walking tour experience in Vancouver enlightens me on Philippine history and where my love for all things eclectic, comes from.  Toronto’s Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, in collaboration with Vancouver’s Tulayan (meaning bridge in Tagalog) brought us Carlos Celdran’s famous walking tour, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Despite the highly charged streets full of Canucks fans honking and hooting, it seemed nothing could detract from our focus on Celdran’s charismatic delivery of anecdotes and historical narrative.  Complete with images of colonial Manila, local architecture as backdrop, and music, the audience was shown Manila’s history through the Spanish and American colonial eras, right through WWII and linking to our present day identity as Filipinos around the world.  While 99% of the audience was of Filipino heritage, it is a cultural experience relevant to anyone interested/willing to understand the role of Manila as the “Pearl of the Orient”, and a community that is shaping Vancouver culture.  As the 3rd largest visible minority group in Vancouver, it is a course on this culture’s history that is long overdue!

Categories: Performing Arts, Travel Tags:

Apprenticing in Playback

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Over the last couple of months, I have spent a few evenings playing with troupe members of Vancouver Playback Theatre, and I was just invited to be an apprentice with the troupe, with intention to become an official member.  It is a form of theatre that is highly improvised and driven by lived experiences within our communities.  I originally studied Playback Theatre with its Founder, Jonathan Fox, when I was practicing drama therapy at NYU.  VPT has different forms from what I originally trained in so before I become a full member, I’ll have a period of apprenticeship to learn the new forms.  The only other place that I have practiced Playback Theatre outside of Vancouver and New York City is in rehearsal with a troupe in London, UK.  Similar to Tai Chi, it is a discipline that has found many practitioners & students around the world!

Recently, I performed with VPT as a guest artist at a volunteer appreciation event celebrating those who give of themselves to help newcomers to Canada adapt and thrive.  It was fun and rewarding to meet a vast array of people from many different cultures, all committed to important and meaningful work.

I’ll post upcoming Playback performances on the events page.  Thanks for visiting!

Categories: Learning, Performing Arts, Theatre Tags:

Colliding Passions art event

April 17th, 2011 No comments

This evening I attended an eclectic arts event called Colliding Passions at the Little Mountain Gallery off Main Street on East 26th Ave. in Vancouver.  Twenty dollars got me a seat for a playful clowning act, stand-up comedy, live music, photography on the walls, a book chapter reading and a sexy hot monologue involving home-cooked curry and cunnilingus.  And included between the sets of these acts, the delicious culinary artistry by Michelle Fattore delighted palettes of the 80 guests.  It was a dry event, with iced tea and a “mystery punch” at the bar; the sweetness of both were just right.  For twenty bucks, it was an excellent deal and it was refreshing to be at an art event with everyone sober.

One of the evenings’ charms was the voice of Haley K Turner.  Her songs about daydreaming, letting go and speaking kindly of others were delivered with a playful innocence that makes Haley so enjoyable to watch, even while she thoughtfully tunes her guitar.  I look forward to seeing and hearing more of Haley K Turner and the experience of ‘Colliding Passions’ has inspired me to want to produce arts events so that more people can enjoy the great artists that I’ve come to appreciate.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back to find out about my next production project.

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