A blog post

Feb 14th, 2010 Olympics, Cultural Olympiad

Posted on the 20 February, 2010 at 11:36 am Posted by in 2010 Olympics

Feb 20

We woke up to sun.  Yes, sun. The mountains can be seen.  I had a quiet morning – time to work out at a Centre a block away.  My body needed that! 

Twas a cultural day, and a darn good one.  Met Susan Celms Baldwin, a colleague from Expo 67 days, and also from Vancouver and Crofton House, at the SFU’s bran new theatre in the stunning Woodward’s complex in downtown Vancouver.  Our purpose?  Matinee of Robert LePage’s The Blue Dragon. I saw this production a couple of years ago during the Cal Performances season at UC Berkeley and loved it. This time I found myself standing back from the production, watching it’s many components and the interweaving of them together. Mr. LePage’s is a story teller, a simple story teller who uses technology – simply.  I don’t mean that it’s simple to do – cause it’s not – but the show isn’t about technology, its focus is the story with the technology helping to move the tale along.  Three brilliant performers made this a wonderful afternoon.

Afterwards we meandered.  For those of you in Vancouver or coming, check out Urbanity, a store on Abbott Street. They have stylish clothes in “real” fabrics  coming from various parts of Scandinavia. Then we ambled over to the Aboriginal Pavilion which is housed on the Plaza of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  Both of us were excited to go – the aboriginals are making a major contribution to these Olympics.  Well, we all know you win some and then you don’t.  Here was an amazing opportunity to tell their stories, stories from their wise ones, stories of their culture. But, this was not their choice. We were offered 360 degree screen of pictures – yes of their art and of their people and their places but none of it seemed to pull into a whole. We went away feeling sad about that. 

After a hearty dinner we headed to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for Dance Canada Dance – bringing together dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.  This concept was born twenty five years ago by David Y.H. Lui – a dance impresario – for Expo 86.  It worked then, (Les Grands Ballet, from Montreal were also involved), and it worked now – brilliantly.

Susan and I made a very wise choice and bought balcony seats – several weeks ago.  We like seeing patterns.  Well, there tons to see. 

We were offered three ballets beginning with the National Ballet dancing to Chopin with choreography set by Marie Chouinard, an avant garde choreographer. I know, you might ask: did it work?  Yes, it did. Ms Chouinard had them moving – not ballet steps (although they did slip in) – mostly it was movement. I was fascinated.  The evening continued with As above/So Below combining National Ballet and Royal Winnipeg dancers. The piece was choreographed by Mark Godden.  I loved this work. Musically it began with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and then segued into John Adam’s Fearful Symmetries. This mesmerizing music gave a flow that had me wondering where I would be taken next. And each time, I was moved to something new. During this piece I had the flash of how nice it is to see the work of other ballet companies.  We have a fabulous company in San Francisco, but I see them often. And, they have their artistic stamp.  It felt refreshing to see new dancers, different choreography.

The final piece was my favorite.  The Royal Winnipeg Ballet doing Hikarizatto choreographed by Itzik Galilli to percussive music – strong, powerful, percussive sounds. The lighting in this piece added an important ingredient holding each segment – sometimes only ten seconds but mostly longer – together. This was a collaborative effort – it must have been – to reach such heights.  At it’s conclusion Susan turned to me and said: That is why the RWB is so great.  They are truly innovative. 

 Before Susan headed home we walked across the street to Live City – Downtown.  This location has the large screen which carries the live entertainment that Sue is overseeing at the David Lam Park, a mile away.  The Canada Pavilion is in this location and worth visiting. It is a good place for kids into computers, great computer games to be played – about Canada, hockey, skating etc.  etc.  And, for those tourists who are dying to see a Royal Canadian Mounted Police in their Red Uniform and brown hat – they are there.  I don’t know about you but know I have been asked by several foreign visitors:  Where can I see a Mountie?  Well, now I have the answer. 

By the way, I have a correction to make.  In my first report from the Olympics, I mentioned that Sue had been my assistant at Expo 67.  Wrong!   She was with me at Expo ’86.  Susan Celms caught this error. Sorry Sue. 

And, others have been asking for the name of the bar where I watched the Opening Ceremonies. Here are the details: It’s called Jimmy’s and it’s at the corner of Robson and Homer.   If you are planning to watch a game there, I suggest you go into the temporary tent – the one with the peak.  It’s right on the corner of Robson and Homer. Entrance is through the bar.  And, they do serve food. 

Good night.  It’s been a lovely day.

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