Bastards dance, Birdman drums, Ghetto Blaster confronts at Vancouver’s 2018 PuSh Festival

An image from Eternal Tides, one performance only at the 2018 PuSh Festival.

Earlier this week, the 2018 PuSh Festival schedule was announced. As always, there’s a plethora of international talent coming to town, presenting shows that range from dance to theatre to movies with live musical accompaniment.

Below are some of our picks for the performing arts festival, which runs Jan 16-Feb. 4 at various venues in downtown Vancouver. (Click on titles to view trailers.) Tickets are on sale now.

The Eternal Tides (Taiwan)—In her Canadian debut, choreographer Lin Lee-Chen uses song, dance and striking stage design to evoke the mythology of water. An epic piece of spiritual environmentalism, it’s a tribute to nature as it was, and might be again. A large ensemble of dancers and musicians in vivid tableaux, stunning costumes and sets, give the show an intoxicating power. “At once austere and sensual, intimate and monumental, this show will leave you awestruck,” promises the festival website. (Feb. 3, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 630 Hamilton St.)

Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster (Australia)—Walking by a canal one day, Australian dancer/choreographer Nicola Gunn saw a man throwing stones at a duck and wound up in a  confrontation with him. She has turned the experience into a show that mixes the physical and the cerebral, the athletic and the abstract, and ideas of morality, culture and the politics of intervention. “This performer can shake up an audience with the best of them—her work has the verbal density of a great podcast, but it’s a live, physical experience if there ever was one to be had.” (Jan. 17-19, Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie St.)

Australian dancer presents her virtuoso storytelling performance Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster at the 2018 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Some Hope for the Bastards (Canada)—Quebec’s Frédérick Gravel offers a music-dance spectacle that mixes the highbrow and the high-octane. Nine dancers move to a live music mix of styles, from rock, R&B, to classical. “In this sprawling sonic universe, the dancers come to life; when they move, it’s with the force of obsession. Beauty is rarely this entertaining, and entertainment rarely this exalted.” (Jan. 16, Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St.)

Birdman: LiVE (USA/Mexico)—Antonio Sánchez accompanies the Oscar-winning movie Birdman with live drumming. Most of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film unfolds as if in one continuous cinematic shot, and Sánchez’ score rolls along to the action. “The screen belongs to stars Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, but Sánchez owns the stage, rolling out his beats in perfect time to the movie. Broadway meets Hollywood, as cinema, theatre and music are joined in spectacular rhythm.” (Feb. 1, Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.)

Dublin Oldschool (Ireland)—Two estranged brothers from Dublin meet for a long weekend to revisit their days of DJ sets and drug binges, tracksuits and trash-talk. Jason is a would-be DJ, Daniel a washed-up junkie. The playwright, Emmet Kirwan, and co-star Ian Lloyd Anderson play multiple roles, and mix slang with naturalistic dialogue and poetic discursions. “It’s speech as music—a feast for the ears. What Dublin Oldschool offers in the end is a gesture towards love and hope—a wish that they might triumph over addiction and the passage of time. Along the way, the work is a very Irish immersion in the joys of language.” (Jan. 30-Feb. 3, Historic Theatre, The Cultch, 1895 Venables St.)

For ticket info and a complete schedule, visit


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