In Yiddish, the word “chutzpah” literally means cheekiness or audacity. But in contemporary usage, the phrase “having chutzpah” has come to mean having guts, passion and courage.
All of which will be on display at the 2016 Chutzpah! Festival, Vancouver’s annual celebration of Jewish arts and culture, this Feb. 18-March 13. Over the course of more than three weeks, dozens of events at venues across the city will showcase incredible musicians, comedians, dancers, actors and more from Vancouver and around the globe.
Here are 5 can’t-miss events at this year’s Chutzpah!:
Dance the night away with Odessa/Havana: Combine the pulsing rhythms and percussion of Cuba with the ancient musical forms and traditional instruments of Jewish cultures and you get this groundbreaking group. Cuban master pianist Hilario Duran joins award-winning trumpeter David Buchbinder, plus an all-star cast on violin, clarinet, congas and more, for a night of musical discovery. March 1 at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre; $34.95
Laugh it up with two all-star comics: The stand-up comedians in this show carry on the legacy of great Jewish comedy, with a bit of a twist. A perennial favourite on CBC Radio, Jon Steinberg draws his material from a unique and slightly off-kilter world view. Hailing from the Big Apple, Jessica Kirson – recently named best stand-up comedian in New York – offers an urban American take on the Jewish experience. Feb. 18 at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre; $42.55
Modern dance meets cutting-edge tech at OPEN SOURCE: In this hotly anticipated work from the Tel Aviv-based Maria Kong dance company, world-class dancers perform while simultaneously controlling sound and light with wireless digital gloves. The performance brings to life the emotional turmoil of a young woman on the eve of her wedding day, with dancers expressing the full passion, humour and uncertainty of the occasion. March 5-March 7 at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre; $34.95
Rock out to ancient Yemeni fusion with A-WA: This groundbreaking group melds hip hop, reggae and electronic music with traditional Yemeni song, dance and dialect to take listeners on an unforgettable musical journey. Soaring voices from a trio of Israeli sisters and a virtuoso band of violin, drums, keyboard and guitar make this a must-see show. March 12 at the Biltmore Cabaret; $34.95
Experience original Canadian drama at A Very Narrow Bridge: From lauded Israeli-Canadian dramatist Itai Erdal comes this story of love, loss and migration. The work relives a harrowing trial endured in order to obtain a gett – a divorce document in Jewish religious law – and start life anew in Canada. March 5-March 13 at the Jewish Community Centre Dayson Board Room; $34.95
For the full lineup of events, visit the Chutzpah! 2016 website.