Innovative and Entertaining Dance Shows in Vancouver This Spring

Eunoia at the Firehall Arts Centre; Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh

With its vibrant arts and culture scene, Vancouver hosts a wide variety of different dance performances, ranging from classical ballet to expressive modern dance. This spring has a diverse line-up of dance performances, rich in talent, narrative, and intricate choreography.

Ballet BC’s FOR EVER

FOR EVER; Photo: Ballet BC

Since 1986, Ballet BC has been the foremost contemporary dance company in the city, continuing to push the boundaries of both artistry and athleticism with their spellbinding productions. The 2023/24 season has already been a phenomenal success, with HERE (November 2023), which showcased works by William Forsythe, Stephen Shropshire, and Shahar Binyamini; The Nutcracker (December 2023) performed by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; and NOW (March 2024), which featured Micaela Taylor’s New Creation, Crystal Pite’s The Statement, and Out Innerspace’s New Creation.

Coming up are two shows that will spotlight the creativity of the Ballet BC team. First is the sold out Take Form (April 5-6), which encompasses seven creations by Ballet BC dancers. Next, FOR EVER, taking place May 9-11 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, is a celebration of the choreography of Artistic Director Medhi Walerski. The program features the Canadian premiere of Chamber, inspired by Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring; the North American premiere of Sway, taking Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope” as its muse; and the World premiere of New Creation.

Family Room and In Conversation at The Dance Centre

Family Room with Justin Calvadores and Marissa Wong; Photo: Lula-Belle Jedynak

The Dance Centre, launched in 1986, is a hub for a range of different dance offerings, include professional support, performances, workshops, classes, and residencies. Their calendar—always jam packed—features upcoming performances of Family Room by The Falling Company (April 19-20). Choreographed by Marissa Wong, the work focuses on a Chinese Canadian protagonist dealing with her parents’ divorce. The set is a living room, with three dancers performing the tricky negotiations the family is undergoing. The Dance Centre is also hosting Danny Nielsen, famed Canadian tap dancer, who is performing with pianist/percussionist Kristian Alexanov in a show titled In Conversation (May 23-24).

Vancouver Opera’s Carmen

From April 25 to May 5, at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver Opera is mounting a production of George Bizet’s beloved Carmen (in French with English titles). The passionate and tragic romance featuring the tempestuous and fiercely independent Carmen and her jealous lover Don José has become a favourite of audiences all around the world. Bizet’s masterpiece contains some of opera’s most well-known arias, including “Habanera” and “Toreador Song.” In addition to some stirring operatic singing, audiences can expect numerous sensual Spanish dance numbers. This is a show not to be missed—it’s sumptuously staged and features an impressive cast, both in number and in talent.

DanceHouse Presents SOUNDspace

Dorrance Dance’s SOUNDspace; Photo: Matthew Murphy

DanceHouse is proud to partner with Vancouver Tap Dance Society to bring Dorrance Dance’s SOUNDspace to a Canadian audience for the first time. The production takes place April 19-20 at the Vancouver Playhouse and features collaboration between Musical Director Gregory Richardson and Leonardo Sandoval, who created the body percussion score. The New York-based dance company will experiment with sound through the contact made between bare and socked feet on wooden surfaces, as well as hands on bodies. The work, originally mounted at St. Mark’s Church, is rooted in the history of tap dance, including performances by slaves who used their bodies as a percussive medium when their musical instruments were banned. DanceHouse is also enthused about the release of the line-up for their 2024/25 season, which will feature international dance performances representing an array of dance styles, such as tango and contemporary dance.

Eunoia at the Firehall Arts Centre

Eunoia; Photo: Jeremy Mimnagh

Fujiwara Dance Inventions, based in Toronto, bring Eunoia to Vancouver May 5-11 to the Firehall Arts Centre. The dance-theatre show combines spoken poetry with dance expression in an adaption of a book of acclaimed poetry by Christian Bök. The poetry is unique since its five chapters are each limited to a single vowel. Inspired by creativity within constraints, the dance performance also limits movements for each chapter to particular body parts. The show is experimental and thought-provoking. 

Arts Club Theatre Company’s Guys & Dolls

Madeleine Suddaby, Josh Epstein, Chelsea Rose, Jonathan Winsby, and Tenaj Williams: photo by David Cooper for the Arts Club Theatre Company, Guys & Dolls, 2023

Fans of classic musical theatre will be enthused to hear that the Arts Club Theatre Company is putting on Guys & Dolls May 16-June 30 at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. Set in 1950s New York City, the show features gangsters, showgirls, and plenty of romance. Get set for well-known songs like “Luck Be a Lady” as well as numerous dance sequences, including an impressive tap dancing number.

OUROFEST

OURO Collective dancers Eric Cheung and Rina Pellerin perform SOTTO 51 at Robson Square. Photo by Teppei Tanabe. Costuming by Jean Okada.

The first biennial OUROFEST takes place in Vancouver May 25-28. With events and performances at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Robson Square, and Q7 Studios, this exciting street dance festival promises to be boundary-pushing and lively. Along with OURO Collective, the festival is co-produced by New Works and co-presented by SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, featuring dance battles, performances by artists like Montreal-based M Queen, as well as workshops, like one on w*acking on May 24.

Dancing on the Edge Festival

Dancing on the Edge Festival returns June 13-22 to venues around the city. This contemporary dance festival celebrates its 36th season with 30 performances by both local and national artists. As the longest running dance festival showcasing the work of professional artists, Dancing on the Edge always has an exciting line-up of ground-breaking dance performances. Stay tuned for more details.

Pre-show Dining Options

Photo: Chambar

Many of the dance productions will be taking place at or near Queen Elizabeth Theatre. If you’re wanting to enjoy dinner or bites/drinks before your show, there are plenty of nearby dining options. Browns Socialhouse at Queen Elizabeth Theatre is the closest establishment, with plenty of great casual bites but you could also visit Fable Diner and Bar for diverse comfort food, including Thai chicken meatballs, roast duck ravioli, or their smashed diner burger. More upscale options include Acquafarina for Italian cuisine; Chambar Restaurant for Belgian specialities like moules frites; and Per Se Social Corner for delicious pizza, pasta, and paella.

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