Vancouver's PuSh Festival is celebrating its 9th year as one of the city's signature events. Every year The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents both contemporary performances from leading Canadian artists and develops new works for the stage.
It's a series I look forward to every year - it manages to be innovative and experimental while maintaining a high calibre of production and I'm always discovering new favourite artists and works. Veda Hille and Bill Richardson's Craigslist Cantata that premiered at PuSh remains one of my favourite live performance/theatre experiences ever.
This year I'm thrilled to see that PuSh is presenting an Aboriginal Performance series which "aims to profile compelling and virtuosic projects that transform perceptions... to foster a broader understanding and interaction of contemporary Indigenous artists and their diverse cultures". Right up RPM's alley!
The series kicked off last night with Beat Nation Live - the cross-platform collective that includes Kinnie Starr, Jackson 2Bears, Cris Derksen, (RPM's own) Ostwelve, JB the First Lady, and the Tangible Interaction Digital Graffiti Wall by Corey Bulpitt and Gurl23. It was a high energy performance that had people on their feet and dancing by the end of it. The collective has honed their collaborative efforts - I saw them almost a year ago at the beginning stages of their work together and they've only gotten better.
During her introduction to the performance, senior curator Sherrie Johnson shared that she was inspired to create the Aboriginal performance series after spending time in New Zealand. She experienced many festivals there that featured work by contemporary Indigenous artists along with the programming of non-Indigenous artists and it made her wonder why that is not the case in Canada. Indeed, we have festivals focused only on Indigenous performers in this country, but there is an undeniable lack of inclusion of current Indigenous works in "non-Native" festival programming.
With that in mind she returned to Canada and to PuSh with the plan to seek out the most cutting edge and current Indigenous artists. The result is this diverse and exciting series.
Running from January 31-February 4th at The Cultch in East Vancouver is No. 2, a theatre piece from Toa Fraser of New Zealand centered around a cantankerous Fijian matriarch.
From February 1-4, at the Waterfront Theatre, is Almighty Voice and His Wife, the moving and funny play by First Nations playwright Daniel David Moses. It "tells the story of a Cree man arrested for killing a cow without a license, and the ensuing manhunt that gives rise to his status as a martyr and a legend."
At Performance Works on February 2nd, actor, choreographer, director and educator Micheal Greyeyes will deliver his "keynote manifesto address" Staging Ethnicity, exploring the complexities of "native" theatre and the impacts on those who create and experience it.
I'm really looking forward to the performance by Calgary's Ghostkeeper - the noisy pop band from Shane Ghostkeeper and Sarah Houle. They'll be rocking Performance Works on February 3rd. Check out the just-published Redwire interview with Ghostkeeper for more on them: http://www.redwiremag.com/site/redwire/features/push-festival-aboriginal-performance-series-ghoskeeper-interview/.
Vancouver - which shows will you be checking out? I hope to see you there!
Christa Couture, Editorial Manager
For more information on tickets, times and performances visit http://pushfestival.ca/festival-events/aboriginal-performance-series/.