After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Arts Umbrella Dance's Season Finale combines fresh talent with stellar choreographers

The dancers of Senior Company perform at the Vancouver Playhouse May 25 & 26. Photo:Chris Randle

At Arts Umbrella Dance, the combination of beautifully trained young dancers with world-class choreographers creates a vocabulary that truly is new. Celebrating 20 years of a program that she started as the artistic director of the school, Artemis Gordon, the Apprentice and Senior Companies, concurs.

"The quality and sophistication of the choreography and the dancers' interpretation exceeds anything that has happened before."

Catching her in conversation between a busy schedule that includes teaching four classes a day and administrating the companies (approximately 25 in the Apprentice Company, about 40 in the senior company and over 450 dedicated dance students in the school) her passion for the art form sizzles.

"It's extraordinary, the depth and sophistication of the work," she said. "It will change dance."

Having seen the Sunday Performance Series on May 6, which showcases selected pieces that will appear at the Vancouver Playhouse on May 25 and 26, this writer can tell you that Gordon is not exaggerating.

Premiering a piece entitled Cyndi Lauper to the music of Lauper's pop hits, James Kuldelka, former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada from 1996-2005 and presently the artist in residence of the National, has created a movement vocabulary that is so fresh, it's never been seen before. The man is a genius and clearly he enjoys working with the Arts Umbrella Senior Company: he has choreographed for them before.

"When I started 20 years ago," said Gordon, " I had no idea where dance could go. What I'm seeing now, I've never seen before."

Choreographer Aszure Barton—who recently debuted on Broadway choreographing Roundabout Theatre's Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weil's Three Penny Opera starring Allan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper—has remounted her jewel-in-her-crown piece entitled Les Chambres des Jacques, premiered for Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal in 2007.

Add in work by Lesley Telford (with the Netherlands Dans Theatre 1 from 2001-2010), Stephen Shropshire, Cherise Barton, Wen Wei Wang, Simone Orlando, Bengt Jorgen,Gioconda Barbuto, Marie Chong, Lara Barclay, Martha Carter, Alyson Fretz, Lina Fitzner, Lynn Sheppard, Marquita Lester and a concert of ballet and contemporary work created by some of the hottest choreographers today, and it is destined to delight.

What an excellent send off to the graduating class, all of whom have already been placed even prior to their graduation speaking to their excellence.

"All six of our graduates have been placed - three to Ballet BC, two to Noord Nederlands Dance and one to Ballet Kelowna," said Gordon. "You cannot helped but be moved by the passion and commitment of these young people."


Evening $20 Student/Seniors, $30 Adults

Matinee $15 Student/Seniors, $25 Adults

Tickets: 604-684-2787, or visit


More in Arts Beat

Benoît Lachambre and Benjamin Kamino entrance viewers with "Nudity. Desire"

Exciting performance art/ dance is high art entertainment at VIDF. Benjamin Kamino in Nudity. Desire.

Schtick-filled Urinetown abounds with hilarity at The Firehall Arts Centre

Singing and dancing their hearts out in a parody of environmental disaster. L-R Chris Lam, Rosie Simon, Meghan Gardiner, & Anton Lipovetsky in Urinetown The Musical Photo: David Cooper

George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan does justice to riveting historical heroine

George Bernard Shaw’s masterful words are well served by Kim Collier’s Saint Joan at the Arts Club running till November 23 at the Stanley Theatre. Joan of Arc, a teenaged, illiterate, peasant girl,...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.