Dance To The Music Of Time — Arts Umbrella Dance Company

June 16 2017 — Vancouver Playhouse — Lynn Sheppard’s The First Movers — Photographs Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Anybody who is here can skip all that I will write and just look at the pictures. For those reading this in Medium, this is about a Vancouver dance school that is more dance company that a school. Those who graduate end up in very good European dance companies in Germany, France and Holland.

In 1975 when my wife Rosemary and our two daughters Ale and Hilary arrived in Vancouver from Mexico City we were I believe typical immigrants who took advantage of the services offered by the city (including that of Burnaby where we first lived). This meant that our daughters took swimming lessons and we eventually signed them up at ballet at the Vancouver School of Music. I also drove both daughters daily to Coquitlam to their French Immersion School.

The reason for the ballet is that was the thing to do, even if I had no concept of dance or particular love for ballet. I remember taking them to a performance of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company that featured wonderful white costumes and parasols (it was called Revelations). It soon became an almost forgotten memory.

Classes at the Vancouver School of Music did not go well. Their instructor only put effort in those she deemed had real talent. The rest, including my daughters she ignored.

Both my daughters abandoned dance but the older one pursued her guitar lessons and plays very well. She learned to read music and is quite good at accompanying at the piano at her school in Lillooet.

My introduction to Evelyn Hart in 1991, made me, most suddenly, a fan of dance. I have been one since.

Memories of my eldest daughter Alexandra dancing ballet as a little girl back in Mexico City have no comparison with the professionalism of what I have seen at the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. In fact this is a serious dance company. Forget that they are a school.

My youngest granddaughter Lauren has been part of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company now for 8 years. She seems committed and I believe she dances well. She has learned poise, grace, aplomb and is what I would call a not normal 15-year-old. As Arty Gordon the director of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company often says, “We get them off the streets.” This she has done with skill, love and a determination that is visible in the allegiance her students give her.

Before I proceed to an explanation of sorts of the pictures herein, that I took on June 16, of Dance to the Music of Time, an Arts Umbrella Dance Recital at the Vancouver Playhouse, let me tell you a bit about the Playhouse Wicked Witches of the West. I talked to one of them as I lined up to enter the theatre. My camera was hidden in the pockets of my leather jacket.

My camera is a Fuji X-E1 which has two features that are essential if one plans to take photographs during a performance at the Playhouse.

1. I gaffer tape the little white light that is a focusing assist for the camera in a dark situation.

2. My camera has two viewfinders. It has the traditional back display. I am able to shut it off and I look through an optical/electronic viewfinder.

This means that if I am careful and sitting in the front row, centre (and I was) that nice woman who smiled at me as we compared notes of dance performances at her venue) the witch will not notice me. She noticed every other parent wanting to snap a picture of their child with their phone!

But because of the witch I was spare in my taking of photographs. I put more effort on my granddaughter’s performance of Les Sylphides choreographed by her instructor Sakiko Januki which are the bulk of the pictures here. Lauren is smack in the middle of most of them.

Lauren Stewart

But I managed to take other pictures. These are of my favourite dance of the evening, Wen Wai Wang’s Fremd (Excerpt) which featured the Arts Umbrella Senior Dance Company.

But there is one charming picture here that was from the beginning of Lynn Sheppard’s The First Movers. I was blown away by her simplicity. I smiled. It helps that I know Sheppard who is Artemis Gordon’s right hand woman. They both practice a Zen-Style method of dance teaching that always points to the heart.

Will my granddaughter become a ballerina, a modern dancer? Time will tell but until that happens or does not happen she is in good hands with The Arts Umbrella Dance Company.

Lauren Stewart front at right

Link to: Dance To The Music Of Time — Arts Umbrella Dance Company

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