Entertainment Local

Arts and culture heat up July

By Brian Paterson

Dancing on the Edge, a 10 day celebration of contemporary dance,  will be kicking things off on July 6. (Scott Alpen Photo)

Dancing on the Edge, a 10 day celebration of contemporary dance, will be kicking things off on July 6. (Scott Alpen Photo)

It’s finally summer in the city and Vancouver’s arts and culture scene will not be contained within walls.

Throughout July, all manner of song, dance and expression will burst forth from venues and into city plazas, parks, and streets.

Here are a few highlights from what’s in store.

Dancing on the Edge

Kicking off on July 6, this 10 day celebration of contemporary dance shares fresh creations from across the globe and around the corner. Held at the Firehall Arts Centre, culture vultures can experience nine diverse programs, including: China’s Beijing Modern Dance Company, local icons such as Daelik, Serge Bennathan, and Mascall Dance, as well as Montreal’s Helen Simard performing NO FUN, an in-your-face performance inspired by Iggy Pop.

Spilling out from the Firehall’s cozy brick confines, adventurous audiences can encounter soaring dance amongst Stanley Park’s trees with Aeriosa Dance and Spakwus Slulem/Eagle Song, intersection-specific art with Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?, and the pop-up performance RV There Yet?, which uses the titular vehicle as a roving stage. More information at www.dancingontheedge.org.

Indian Summer Festival

Curating writers, artists, musicians and thinkers from across the globe, Indian Summer Festival is in its seventh year and continues to burst with creativity and concepts.Held July 6-15, SFU Woodward’s and venues across the city will host dialogues and discussions, performances and parties.

Highlights include the glamorous opening gala on July 6; an evening with multi-award-winning author MJ Vassanji; walking tours of Chinatown and Punjabi Market; and 5x15: the world-renowned event format used across the globe, which will see Talvin Singh, Bif Naked, Molly Crabapple, Kamila Shamsie, Carmen Rodriguez and Kalyani Pandya take to the stage for 15 minutes each to share their stories. More information at www.indiansummerfestival.ca.

Theatre Under the Stars

Since its first production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1940, Theatre Under the Stars has been bringing summer entertainment to the heart of Stanley Park: the Malkin Bowl. While Bard on the Beach has taken the torch on all things Shakespeare, TUTS – as it’s often abbreviated – has become renowned for its annual pairing of joy-inducing musicals.

This year, beloved family favourite Mary Poppins swoops in on July 7 to kick of a month and a half of performances. The Disney classic runs in nightly rotation with an endlessly clever tribute to golden age musicals: The Drowsy Chaperone. The latter show is a particularly appropriate pick for Canada’s 150th, as it’s one of few Canadian musicals to have enjoyed commercial and critical success south of the border on Broadway (including an incredible five Tony Awards). More information at www.tuts.ca.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Speaking of 150th celebrations, Vancouver Folk Fest will mark the occasion (and the festival’s own 40th birthday) by starting the party a day early this year. On July 13, the gates will be thrown open for a completely free concert exploring the great Canadian songbook. Expect covers ranging from The Tragically Hip to K’naan, and Joni Mitchell to Arcade Fire from such eclectic artists as C.R. Avery, Jim Byrnes, and The Funk Hunters.

The iconic summer festival gets underway in earnest that weekend, taking over Jericho Beach Park with a six-stage celebration of folk, world, rock, pop, blues, and country, to name a few. More than 20 countries will be represented by more than 60 musical acts, whose highlights include Billy Bragg, Kathleen Edwards, Barenaked Ladies, Shawn Colvin, and The Revivalists. More information at www.thefestival.bc.ca.

The Drum is Calling Festival

Featuring some of the most creative artists in the country, The Drum is Calling Festival is a remarkable way to celebrate Indigenous culture and art — not least during the Canada 150 Plus celebrations in 2017. Headliners at this diverse festival taking place in plazas and atriums across the city include spoken word performer and poet Shane Koyczan (those few unfamiliar with the name may remember his iconic, rousing We Are More performance from the 2010 Olympic Games), singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, PowWowStep creator DJ Shub, percussionist and bandleader Sal Ferreras, and literary sensation Tomson Highway.

Margo Kane is the visionary behind many Indigenous cultural festivities and performances across the city — including the beloved Talking Stick Festival. She has applied a theme to each of the nine days, enabling participants to reflect on different people in their lives: from Elders to Matriarchs, Youth to Warriors. Vendors, food carts, workshops, and artisans will be present at multiple sites for a truly all-encompassing experience. More information at www.canada150plus.ca.