Fall Arts Preview 2019: Dance artists Miriam Gittens and Cristina Bucci are driven toward their dream - Straight.com - Canadanewsmedia
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Fall Arts Preview 2019: Dance artists Miriam Gittens and Cristina Bucci are driven toward their dream – Straight.com

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Miriam Gittens

Talk to dancer Miriam Gittens about the trajectory that brought her to Ballet BC, and it’s clear that her entry into New York City’s famed Juilliard School for the arts was a turning point.

The talent had grown up in Fresno, California, training from age three at a school that didn’t just emphasize ballet, but dabbled in jazz, tap, contemporary, African, and hip-hop.

Right after high school she headed to the Big Apple for the opportunity of a lifetime. “Juilliard was a dream that I didn’t necessarily think was possible,” says the affable artist, speaking to the Straight over the phone from the Scotiabank Dance Centre studio, amid warm-ups for morning ballet class. “That definitely was one of the most important and difficult opportunities of my whole life. That’s where I really grew up and learned who I really was.”

It was at the school that Gittens first heard about Ballet BC; she clearly remembers teacher Francisco Martinez (a former dancer with Spain’s Compañía Nacional de Danza) telling her about artistic director Emily Molnar during a partnering class. “He talked about what an inspiration she is and how powerful she is,” Gittens recalls. “He was talking about her as a dancer and as a leader. And that sent me going into research and looking at as many videos online as possible.”

For the aspiring performer, other highlights at Juilliard included creating a piece with her father, Larry Gittens, a well-known trumpet and piano player. “As a jazz musician, he tends to improvise, so it was interesting to see how we both created material,” she says.

Still, Gittens took a break from dance after graduating from Juilliard, working for a financial adviser in New York City while she contemplated her future. “It was an entirely new and uncomfortable place to be,” she reflects. “A lot of people think that as soon as you graduate you jump into exactly what you want. I had had a long four years at school and needed some time to think and I wanted clarity.”

It took just four months to figure out she needed to dance. Her opening came when Peter Chu, a Juilliard grad who’s performed for Crystal Pite’s Kidd Pivot and whose Vegas-based company chuthis. has performed here at the Cultch, invited her to join a tour for his acclaimed Paper Cuts in an Empty Bag in early 2017.

“He was my first professional job, so that was a huge moment,” she says. “He’s someone who’s inspired me to be as versatile as possible. And that was even more of a driving force to audition for someplace like Ballet BC.”

Soon after, Gittens auditioned and made it into the Vancouver troupe’s emerging artist program last season. And she’s still marvelling at not just the touring to places like Madrid and Germany she got to do, but the choreographic stars she got to work with over that year.

“I never dreamed I’d be able to do rep by William Forsythe or Crystal Pite,” says Gittens, referring to mounting Enemy in the Figure and Solo Echo. “To see the people they are is even more inspiring. They’re some of the most revered choreographers of our time, and I saw how giving they are.”

This season, her first as a full company member, she’s even more stoked to work with the likes of Aszure Barton, who’ll be bringing her playful and poetic Busk here, and Medhi Walerski, who will be restaging his starkly beautiful spin on Romeo and Juliet.

At the same time, Gittens will be part of a company in the midst of change: this is Molnar’s final season and Gittens is one of several new company members. “There’s a big shift and it’s a very youthful company, so it’s exciting,” she says.

As for Vancouver, she’s embracing the outdoors and the cuisine. “There’s an easygoing California vibe here,” she says, which, of course, makes it feel like home.

Cristina Bucci

As the youngest of seven kids, Cristina Bucci grew up in a family that didn’t have the means to put her in dance classes. Born in Malta and raised in Surrey, she voraciously sought out dance herself.

“I was self-taught, mostly through film or music videos,” she tells the Straight over the phone from Vancouver, from an international dance intensive run by the OURO Collective, where she’s managing and co–artistic director. “I’d always record it on VHS and then slow it down and learn it. So it would mean a lot of self-teaching in my back yard—predominantly street dance and hip-hop.”

Those forms drew her back again and again, even as she started to pay for studio classes in everything from jazz to freestyle and hip-hop through summer jobs as a teen. Along the way, she was drawn to world styles like Afro-Cuban and Indian. And then she headed to London, England, to pursue a career in commercial dance.

“It was such a struggle and I ended up seeking out the more underground street dance, where I felt accepted,” she explains.

“I was an introvert and dance was a way for me to communicate; I was from a big family with strict parents, and dance was my voice,” she allows. “I turn into this other person when I teach and dance. [Dancing,] I could be really aggressive as a teen—that’s why I think a lot of teens gravitate toward dance and hip-hop.”

Back in Vancouver, the self-starter has found innovative ways to push street dance and mash it up with other forms. First, she worked with women and children at the SOULdiers program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Then, in 2014, she founded the street-dance-based collective OURO, along with colleagues Maiko Miyachi, Dean Placzek, Mark Siller, and Rina Pellerin. Each brings different specialties—as diverse as waacking, popping and locking, breaking, and contemporary ballet—together on collectively created projects.

The result has been work that has both reimagined street dance and blazed new trails at festivals and other platforms. There have been appearances at the New Works dance series and the Vancouver International Dance Festival, and a commission by Montreal’s Tentacle Tribe for OURO’s debut at the Dancing on the Edge Festival. “That was something, as a street dancer, I was so interested in: going to Dancing on the Edge,” she says. “It was one of those moments where I could believe I was a part of it.”

She’ll be part of an even bigger platform at this fall’s Dance in Vancouver, the biennial showcase for North American presenters that runs November 20 to 24 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. There, audiences can take in OURO’s new HAKO—a piece that pushes into the realms of technology and installation art. In it, five dancers team up with experiential-design studio Tangible to interact with glaring white LED rods and a giant, bulbous soft sculpture.

When she’s not teaching or creating new dance pieces, Bucci works as a nutritionist, coaching young performers through seminars on how eating right can prolong their careers. “Being Italian, it’s been a big part of my background; my mom makes absolutely amazing Italian cuisine and she was always interested in healthy food,” she explains.

Reflecting, Bucci feels she may have finally found where she fits into the dance world. “It took me about 15 years to figure it out and get to the point where I am today, where I love this amalgamation of street styles and contemporary ballet,” she says.

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Ice sheets, pool, arts centre identified in Kamloops draft master rec plan – Kamloops This Week

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The City of Kamloops should consider building a performing-arts centre, a new pool facility and a trio of ice rinks in the future.

On Tuesday, city council was given an update on its new recreation master plan being drafted by consultant RC Strategies.

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A non-profit society is working with arts groups and the community to advance the arts centre project, with tasks identified: developing a new business case, communications strategy, enlisting community support through a membership drive, providing input into design of the project and fundraising.

Consultant Stephen Slawuta of RC Strategies said the city should continue to explore the viability of an arts centre.

“See where it leads and move forward based on the directive of that business case initiative,” he said.

An arts centre was identified as a top priority following community input in the draft plan, Slawuta said.

He added that visits to city pools has been increasing over the past four years.

While RC found the city does a good job providing most aquatic services, leisure aquatic activities was identified as a gap area.

The master plan suggests exploring adding another indoor aquatics facility with leisure activities as the focus and taking a deeper dive into details of such a development such as whether the pool should be a standalone or multi-use facility, costs, impacts on other city pools and a location in an area of the city where this type of service is lacking.

When it comes to ice rinks in Kamloops, Slawuta said RC’s investigation into usage suggests their are some challenges.

“In this case, your facilities are at or over capacity and that would suggest there is a need to increase the provision of ice,” he said, noting the city will need to invest in upgrading its existing ice rinks over time.

Slawuta said RC’s analysis shows bringing the city’s prime time ice usage — evening and weekend hours between September and March — down to 85 per cent from the current 100 per cent would require at least three more sheets.

“And 85 per cent prime time utilization is still a very high level of utilization, but we think that is a reasonable target,” he said.

The master plan suggests adding one or two new ice rinks in the next three to seven years, and another one or two sheets in seven to 12 years.

In the medium term, the plan suggests exploring adding more indoor dry floor field space when considering building any arenas or aquatics facilities, Slawuta said.

In the short term, the plan recommends continued engagement with the school district to ensure community access to those facilities.

Slawuta said the city should continue to monitor usage at spirts fields and ball diamonds and focus on quality over quantity of those spaces.

On a case-by-case basis, the city should explore its opportunities to make improvements and enhancements to those facilities such as adding washroom, seating and improving playing surfaces.

As for the city’s two curling rinks, Slawuta suggested the city continue to support those operations as long as they are viable.

“At some point, it’s likely something is going to call viability into question,” Slawuta said, noting possibilities such as a drop in participation or a major repair of one of the city’s curling facilities.

If and when this happens, Slawuta said, it would be prudent to discuss consolidating the clubs and retrofit one of the two facilities for a different, dry floor surface sport.

The master plan recommends the city more closely monitor its court spaces to determine if sports like tennis and pickle ball are in high demand and require further study, Slawuta said.

Indoor play spaces were also looked at, Slawuta said, noting those spaces should be considered when exploring future development and multi-use facilities.

The city should consider ensuring its existing recreational infrastructure is sustained before contemplating new development, Slawuta said.

Multi-use spaces should be prioritized along with inclusion and access, he said.

Feedback collected on the draft plan will be incorporated into the plan and brought before council for adoption at a later date.

The public will have a chance to give its input on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. at Sports Central Lounge in the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre and on Oct. 3 at Heritage House in Riverside Park, at 100 Lorne St.

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Hibernation Arts hosting poetry reading on Thursday night – OrilliaMatters.Com

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NEWS RELEASES
HIBERNATION ARTS
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Hibernation Arts, a local gallery in the Arts District, is proud to announce the resumption of its Wordsmith Series, with a poetry reading by Dave Armishaw and Josh Poitras on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

These two local poets have markedly different styles which actually complement each other. The Wordsmith Series started last winter, but took a hiatus over the summer.

This series will resume one evening a month until winter sets in, at which time the readings will be presented one Sunday afternoon a month. The $10 admission includes light refreshments, and the poets will have some of their work for sale.

This is a good opportunity to listen to poetry in an intimate environment enjoyed by both listeners and poets.

Hibernation Arts is also proud to announce the first of its house concerts with Sean Patrick and Darrin Davis, to take place on Thursday, Sept. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The music will be unplugged or minimally amplified, so it is a good opportunity to listen to music in an intimate environment enjoyed by both listeners and musicians.

These concerts will be presented once or twice a month. The $20 admission includes light refreshments. Hibernation Arts is at 7 Peter St. S. in the Orillia Arts District.

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Love the arts in New West? Here's how you can help – The Record (New Westminster)

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Love the arts community in New Westminster? Have some time to lend a hand?

The Arts Council of New Westminster is looking for volunteers to help out with a number of upcoming events. Among them:

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RiverFest Pop Up Exhibition:

A reception attendant and bartender are needed to help out on Wednesday, Sept. 18 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Fraser River Discovery Centre, at the opening reception for this exhibition featuring the work of nine local artists.

On Thursday, Sept. 19, gallery attendants are needed to help supervise the artwork between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., or 1 and 4 p.m.

  

Culture Forward New West:  

On Saturday, Sept. 28, an outreach ambassador is needed to work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the fourth floor at Anvil Centre. You can share your stories and your passion for the arts.

 

Gallery attendants:

Volunteers are needed on an ongoing basis to help at The Gallery at Queen’s Park from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays or Sundays. You can volunteer on either day, once every two weeks. Volunteers are needed to help ensure the gallery can stay open on weekends.

 

Email info@acnw.ca for information or to volunteer.

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