A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Diary/Journal Intime
Sunday, October 04, 2009

As promised in yesterday’s blog today’s is about our going to a dance performance Diary / Journal Intime at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Since they have recently opened the newly refurbished facilities (excellent use of the little space they always had) they are definitely promoting the use of the more affectionate moniker, the Cultch.

Rosemary, Rebecca, Lauren caught the last matinee on the last day, attendance was fair. The performance exceeded any expectations I may have had. It pleased all four of us and I saw an almost constant smile on little (7) Lauren’s face.

I asked my other granddaughter Rebecca (12) what she thought. She told me that the dance was more than dance and that the dancers were able to incorporate several languages (French, English, Spanish and some counting in German), a kind of sign language and virtuoso dancing. Rebecca noticed that the female (four) dancers had special pointe shoes that were somewhat easier to remove and put on quickly, something that the dancers did often during the performance. I couldn’t draw her out on the extreme sensuality of the show. I asked her if she thought George-Nicolas Tremblay (the male dancer in the picture here) was cute. I thought he was cute and very sexy but Rebecca played it safe with, “I am not into the dancer types. I prefer the ones in law.” I asked her about the very long kiss in the beginning of the performance between George and Roxane Duchesne-Roy, the female dancer in the photo, and her answer was noncommittal, “It was long but the afternoon was more than just sexy, it was about many other things.”

I can only guess that Rebecca would make the better and more objective dance critic. I could never be one as I could never be all that objective.

For four weeks, most recently, I visited a dying friend. Concomitantly my wife Rosemary was hit by an SUV, as a pedestrian, and suffered a severely broken ankle. I have been going with her to physiotherapy and to her doctor. I have been seeing people limping, missing limbs and watched Rosemary walk with a walker, a cane and drag herself around the garden in her attempt to help me put the garden to bed for the winter.

Seeing 7 dancers (4 females and 3 males) at their peak of their youth, doing stretches of virtuoso dancing was a treat after the hospital scene. They were attractive and had lovely bodies and moved with their inherent grace. I am not ashamed to admit to mention here that Diary/Journal Intime choreographed by Hélene Blackburn was a very sensual piece. I am not ashamed at all because my friend Artemis Gordon who runs the dance program at Arts Umbrella always stresses this fact as to why we should appreciate and love dance.

If the dance performance was not enough I have to add the original music, including standup plucking of the piano strings and (alternated with Bach solo works for piano) by pianist Matthieu Fortin.

He was playing by the time we were allowed entrance to what is now called the Historic Theatre. The young men were sitting casually on the left and the four young female dancers were sitting (casually too as they chatted with each other or adjusted their pointe shoes) on the right. I was intrigued before the performance even began. The floor was decorated with 1000 little round candles and Fortin was playing on a piano with an ancillary sound that sounded like a human being breathing deeply.

There was humour, singing, dancing, point shoe virtuosity (courtesy of Roxane Duchesne-Roy). The performance pleased us all.

Since 1995 when I first met and photographed Evelyn Hart fell in love with dance (modern, ballet, modern ballet, contact improvisational and even some of the hybrid modern/hip-hop by the likes of Amber Funk Barton and Shay Kuebler). Since Rebecca was 4 she has been accompanying me to dance. She danced at Arts Umbrella until recently and gave up dance to hunker down on her scholastic life (I do not agree with this but then I am only the grandfather). Rebecca knows about dance and she told me as we watched the performance of Diary/Journal Intime yesterday, “Only Roxane can really dance some of those difficult parts. The only other one would be the girl with the ponytail. I am not all that sure that I could be that objective but I think I would agree. The girl in the pony tail was Susan Paulson. At one point Paulson let her hairs loose and was transformed for me. Suddenly her virtuosity seemed to match Duchesne-Roy’s. My Rebecca was right.

We left for home contented and happy.

I wasn’t all that happy. I know that the Straight gave a glowing mention/preview but I am not aware of any media attention to what certainly one of the most memorable dance performances for a while. Sometimes no matter how good our own home-grown dance scene is I believe we need to see what other countries or at least other provinces in Canada are doing with dance. This performance merited a review, a glowing review early on.

Arts organizations in Vancouver including the Cultch, run by Heather Redfern, right, cannot run them on grants and declining government funding. They need to fill seats. A couple of good reviews (certainly Diary/Journal Intime , a Cas Public Production deserved them) would have put more people in more seats. Then the show can go on.

It is for this reason that I believe that our city needs what I call a Vancouver Arts Web Hub. This would be a web page containing a central hub (a de facto web arts magazine) run by a paid editor who would hire competent writers to write intelligent reviews, but more important, intelligent previews that would attract the presence of more paying customers to dance, theatre, music, opera and visual arts performances and shows. This web hub would also have links to all the web pages of participating arts organizations like the VSO, the Vancouver Opera, Arts Club Theatre, Ballet BC and many of the much smaller institutions with small advertising budgets.

If many people paid and went to see Diary/ Journal Intime, then I am happy for them and for Heather Redfern’s Cultch. If this was not the case then it is a travesty that has to be soon corrected. I believe that steps are being taken in that direction.

Cas Public

the dancers


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