Queer Arts Festival WICKED Pulls Out All The Stops For Closing Weekend Global Audience

Broadway World | July 23, 2020

Recently referred to as “A Showcase of Resilience in the Digital World”, the 12th Annual Queer Arts Festival (QAF) continues their digitally re-imagined festival through the weekend with headline performances from critically acclaimed artists such as avant-drag collective The Darlings and internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnon in his re-imagined This Crazy Show. With high expectations for audience attendance at these performances, organizers have advised to register early while “digital seats” are still available.

Throughout the run of the festival (July 16th – 26th), the global audience is invited to head over to the online QAF HUB qafonline.ca to soak in the arts from the safety of their own queer bubble. The HUB has proven to be a popular hangout with audiences, where they can register for events, sign up for limited edition souvenirs or catch shows they may have previously missed. But with the festival ending July 26th, time is running out to take part in:

● The Curator tour, Wicked: Curated Visual Art Exhibition and the Pride in Art Community Art Show: galleries can all be viewed online at any time throughout the festival. Just head to qafonline.ca!

 Mail Out Art! Renounce your allegiance to nation and gender borders at Elektra KB‘s “Cathara Autonomous Territory” digital checkpoint. Part of the Curated Visual Art Exhibit, visit catcheckpoint.digital and sign up for a limited edition free C.A.T Stateless passport to be mailed to your home. Exclusive to QAF attendees: apply online ends on July 26th!

The WICKED-ness wraps up on closing night July 26th with our Glitter Is Forever: Pajama Party, the final marathon binge of the performances featured throughout the 2020 Queer Arts Festival!

Glitter is Forever: Pajama Party Program Schedule
QAF’s Closing Binge-fest | Sunday July 26, 4PM – 1 AM

Get your dress jammies on and grab a drink(s) for the binge-worthy worldwide broadcast of the entire Queer Arts Festival! With guest hosts and surprises, Pajama Party attendees have one last chance to feast their senses on all the stellar performances of our featured 2020 artists and Interact with friends on the QAF online HUB!

Binge-fest Part 1: Readings and Conversations | 4:00-7:00PM (PST)

● Underground Absolute Fiction: An immersive play-meets-punk-concert, inspired by the Polish “home theatre.” Written by Anais West and co-produced by Queer Arts Festival and The Frank Theatre.

● A Night of Storytelling: Curated by Danny Ramadan, readings by local, national, and international writers.

● A Conversation on Queer Mentorship: Hiromi Goto and Erica Isomura explore the nuances of intergenerational mentorship as queer POC writers.

Booty Break: DJ Set from DJ O Show | 7:00-8:00PM (PST)
Things are just getting warmed up at the Party, so let’s have a stretch, shall we? DJ O Show will get your PJ’s playful with an hour of high energy dance!

Binge-fest Part 2: Burlesque, Drag, and Dance | 8:00-11:00PM (PST)

● Too Spirited: Embrace your too-muchness with bombastic burlesque brought to you by the badass babes of Virago Nation.

● The Darlings, Uncensored: Experience the unexpected with genre-bending non-binary avant-drag collective, The Darlings: Continental Breakfast, PM, Rose Butch, and Maiden China.

● This Crazy Show: In his Swan Song, contemporary dance legend Noam Gagnon sashays the fine line between pain and pleasure in a fetishization of something glamorous and beautifully twisted: a monster beautified.

Binge-fest Part 3: Midnight Movies: VIVO Media Art Screenings | 11:00 – 1:00AM (PST)

● Rupture Probe: Recent queer shorts rupture normative notions of gender, pleasure, and activism.

  • Return to Sodom North: 90s Queer Video Out & Uncensored. Time travel with the Vancouver Queer media artists who raged back against the malignment and suppression of queer lived realities and representations of desire. Curated in partnership with VIVO Media Arts Centre.

4 happenings to wind you up or down right now

xtra | July 23, 2020

What to watch:

Life is Easy

Queer digital platform Revry creates their own spin on Freaky Friday with the new body-swap comedy series, Life is Easy. The New Zealand-based web series explores the complexities of race, gender, sex and the true meaning of being “woke” in 2020.

The show follows Jamie-Li (played by Chye-Ling Huang), a straight Chinese-Kiwi woman, and Curtis (Cole Jenkins), a gay white man. (Get it? Jamie Lee Curtis played Lindsay Lohan’s mother in the 2003 version of Freaky Friday.) The pair’s friendship seemingly transcends race, gender and sex. They think they’re “woke”—that is, until they wake up in each other’s bodies, upending the way they see others, each other and themselves.

Written by Huang and Jenkins, the series of eight 15-minute episodes premieres July 19 at 5 p.m., with a repeat screening at 8 p.m. PST on Revry’s Live TV Channels; the full season is on Revry Premium on July 17.ADVERTISEMENT

What to read:

It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham

Thew book cover for It is Wood it is Stone.

Gabriella Burnham, a Brazilian-born author now living in New York City, is set to release her debut novel, It Is Wood, It Is Stone, in which romantic entanglements between women address class and colourism, sexuality and divisive histories. The novel follows an American woman named Linda who moves to São Paulo, Brazil with her husband for work. As Linda builds relationships with other women, she is pushed to reflect on both her privilege as a white, affluent woman travelling abroad and her evolving sexuality.

The novel is available for pre-order now and will be released on Amazon on July 28.

What to listen to:

“Teenage Dreamer” by Velvet Code

Toronto's Velvet Code.
Toronto’s Velvet Code.

Toronto-based electronic musician Velvet Code releases their new single, “Teenage Dreamer,” on July 24. The song is meant to be an empowering LGBTQ2 summer anthem to connect with those navigating through tough times. The song’s release will be accompanied by a music video, shot entirely while in self-isolation.

With influences like Laidback Luke, Dada Life, Avicii, David Guetta and Calvin Harris, Velvet Code’s music can be described as ’80s and ’90s-influenced EDM. The electronic artist is currently in the midst of developing an inclusive LGBTQ2 record label, which is expected to be announced later this year.

Both the “Teenage Dreamer” song and music video will be available to stream on July 24, with the latter viewable on YouTube.

What to look at:

This Crazy Show 

A still from the dance production This Crazy Show.

Canadian dancer Noam Gagnon performs his newest piece, This Crazy Show, for Vancouver’s annual Queer Arts Festival. The LGBTQ2 arts festival is entirely online this year (continuing until July 26), and is organized around the theme of revolution in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. With This Crazy Show, the contemporary dancer wants to examine how precarious and ambiguous identity can be, exploring different gender roles and how the imaginations of children shape their identities.ADVERTISEMENT

Gagnon addresses the perpetual quest for love by revisiting the worlds of childhood, real and imagined, through a bionic woman superhero metaphor.

This Crazy Show streams July 25 at 7 p.m. and July 26 at 2 p.m. PDT on the Queer Arts Festival website. Tickets for the event are by donation and people can RSVP through Eventbrite.

Too Spirited for the 2020 Queer Arts Festival

The Peak. | SFU | July 23, 2020

By: Kelly Chia, Features Editor

Too Spirited, an Indigenous burlesque show performed for the Queer Arts Festival, was an amazing reminder of why burlesque is so invigorating to watch: it’s all about getting on stage to take ownership of your body, turning vulnerability into confidence. Sparkle Plenty, the emcee, guided viewers through numbers performed by the all-Indigenous group, Virago Nation. Too Spirited was streamed on Queer Arts Festival, with an interactive chat on the side to cheer the performers throughout their numbers. The attendees were enthusiastic and matched Sparkle’s upbeat energy.  

While Sparkle Plenty spoke, an ASL interpreter helped communicate her words. I don’t often see ASL interpreters at shows which made me really appreciate this attempt to be inclusive and  make burlesque more accessible. 

“Tonight, it’s about highlighting and celebrating our resilience. Our sexy, powerful resilience!” Sparkle Plenty began.”When we hear stories about Indigenous women in the media, the main stories that are being shared are of our suffering or being a caricature. We wanted to show that we’re more than this: that sexuality is fun, and most importantly, a healthy expression of ourselves!” While she spoke, Shane Sable, another performer, cheered in the live chat. Not only was it endearing to see performers support each other, but in this case, it helped the show reach beyond the screen. Sparkle Plenty’s words were powerful ones, and prepared me for the bombastic, beautiful displays of sexuality that I was about to witness. These acts also made me happy about having the option of tipping each performer. 

The first number was performed by RainbowGlitz, and Sparkle Plenty introduced her performance as commentary on tradition through a colonial lens, and true tradition that embraces being naked. RainbowGlitz entered the stage in a crow costume, shuffling to an insistent drum beat. Then, hiding behind a stage prop, she dropped the crow head and reappeared in heels to the tune of Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry.” She proceeded to strut and writhe on stage, a complete 180 to the first half of the performance. By the time she left the stage, she was confidently exposing her breasts. Admittedly, not hearing the audience’s cheers after each performance was unusual, but I could hear the other performers encourage the stage performer which felt heartwarming.

Next, Sparkle Plenty performed in a long coral number, slowly stripping her gloves with a brilliant and sassy smile. What I loved about Sparkle Plenty’s performance was that she stripped her hair extensions, and was handed a second ponytail by a person off stage, proceeding to dance wildly with her hair extensions. Her glee was contagious, and I found myself beaming as I watched her. She later said in an exasperated tone, “The moral of the story is, ‘pin your damn wig in’.”

What really made a lasting impression was the third number, performed by Lynx Chase. The song in the background was considerably slower, which showed off Lynx’s control as a pole dancer. I watched in awe as she wound down the pole, seemingly glued to it by her waist and thighs. Every movement seemed smooth and intentional, and I was absolutely mesmerized. In addition, I was struck by Sparkle Plenty’s comments after Lynx’s performance, “Pole dancing has become more popular in the mainstream, and we’re seeing people try to brand it as ‘sexy fitness.’ Never forget that strip culture was birthed by black strippers and sex workers, show your fucking gratitude!”

The show was filled with incredible performances and commentary, with a notable theme of 70s style costuming. Watching the performers embrace their body unabashedly served — as burlesque often does — as a wonderful reminder for me to be more kind to my own. I highly recommend checking out the video recording here if you’re looking for a fun way to spend your night and to support some gorgeous and talented Indigenous babes. Queer Arts Festival will also be streaming the show for a second time on July 26, and will be offering a variety of other events until the festival closes on July 26.

There’s no one way to do drag, and Vancouver collective The Darlings are proving that loud and queer

| Peter Knegt · CBC Arts · Posted: Jul 23, 2020 1:15 PM ET

| The non-binary quartet are about to offer their most ambitious performance yet

| Queeries is a weekly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that queries LGBTQ art, culture and/or identity through a personal lens. 

There are few folks pushing the boundaries of drag quite like the four members that make up The Darlings. A multidisciplinary performance collective featuring Continental Breakfast (Chris Reed), P.M. (Desi Rekrut), Maiden China (Kendell Yan) and Rose Butch (Rae Takei), the Vancouver-based quartet turn conventional drag upside down by exploring the “genderqueer, non-binary, and trans experience through the use of movement, poetry, performance art, theatre, and immersive installation.”

During the past few months, The Darlings lit up our dire existences (and apparently offended Facebook censors) with “Quarantine I” and “Quarantine II,” two innovative performances they put together from their respective self-isolations. And now, they’re coming back together for the first show they’ve worked together in person since February — and their most ambitious presentation in the two years since forming. Streaming as part of the Queer Arts Festival’s 2020 virtual edition, the hour-long filmed performance promises to be a highlight of our new digital festival realities, and you can watch it from anywhere this Friday, July 24 at 7pm PT.

In anticipation of the performance, The Darlings chatted with CBC Arts about their process, which they also had documented through a short film produced by CBC’s Creator Network that was directed by Eric Sanderson. You can watch the film just below and then scroll further down to read a bit about The Darlings’ plan to take over the world (whenever the world once again becomes safe to take over, that is). 

Watch

The Darlings: Live from Quarantine

  • 2 days ago
  • 11:35

This film follows non-binary drag performers Continental Breakfast (Chris Reed), P.M. (Desi Rekrut), Maiden China (Kendell Yan) and Rose Butch (Rae Takei) as they get ready to perform together in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. 11:35

Tell me about The Darlings and how you all came together.

Rose Butch: We’re a multidisciplinary non-binary drag performance collective, and as a group we’re turning two this year! Before we started performing as The Darlings, we would work with each other at different shows and parties around town; [we] admired each other as performers and we’ve always gotten along as friends. We all come at drag from different viewpoints that all somehow intersect — PM is a trained dancer, I’m a theatre artist, Continental Breakfast is a comedian and actor, and Maiden China is a writer and activist.

PM had gotten the four of us together to work on a photo shoot with Sean Alistair, who’s an artist that we’ve ended up collaborating with quite a bit, and brought up this idea that they had with Breakfast about the four of us putting together an immersive night that didn’t follow the conventional format of drag shows as we knew them — where we could do riskier and more experimental stuff that we all seemed to be drawn to in our performance anyway.

Our first show went up in a DIY warehouse space to an audience of 89 people, just after Pride in 2018. We had no idea what to expect. But the energy was electric, the support was there, and we knew we were onto something.

Rose Butch. (Maya Ritchey/Queer Based Media)

What is The Darlings’ mission and what do you aim to express through your art?

Maiden China: I always aim to express vulnerability and a keen sense of emotional intelligence through my work, while challenging hegemonic systems of power and oppressive ideals. I believe art is inherently political.

Rose Butch: We aim to challenge and employ the conventions of drag as a medium, using elements of lip sync, dance, poetry, visual art, physical theatre and spoken word to explore narratives of queer, trans and non-binary experience. Thematically, we work a lot with relational dynamics, intimacy, and nostalgia, queering and reclaiming memories. Currently, our mission is to provide the world with some much-needed queer escapism and catharsis.

PM: I think our biggest mission is to be seen and heard — loudly at that. We want to force-feed our audiences pure queerness and make them question every construct they may have about what they “think drag looks like.” Drag is such a beautiful thing, but there isn’t just one way to do it. Drag can cross mediums such as poetry, theatre, dance, live music…The Darlings aim to not be stagnant and never be comfortable, and continually push and express what it is to be non-binary in many different avenues. 

Maiden China. (Maya Ritchey/Queer Based Media)

The Darlings recently faced censorship from Facebook due to a live performance they deemed “inappropriate.” Can you tell me a bit about that and how you feel about it now?

Rose Butch: We totally thought that we’d really toned down our content to make it Facebook-friendly the first time around, so when we were flagged and taken down for “inappropriate content” during our Quarantine II show after we’d deliberately tried to check every box we could think of, it was so frustrating.

At a time when there was so much uncertainty around queer community spaces and loss of opportunity as performing artists, having even a digital platform pulled out from under us was disappointing to say the least. We released a video addressing the censorship, and took a step back from self-producing online content as a collective for the time being. Looking back at it now seems like so long ago, even though it’s literally been three months. Honestly, it’s hard not to see the censorship as targeting a group mostly made up of queer and trans POC — if it had been a group of artists with a different set of privileges, would they have been met with the same response?

PM: Being virtual has posed many challenges. It really made us converse and talk about why queerness is censored. We weren’t breaking rules, and we made sure that our content could be viewed by all generations. The fact that our show was taken down felt quite homophobic to say the least. People make it hard on artists — not just queer artists — to showcase anything out of the normal. What we do is uncomfortable, and people see that as being wrong. Queerness is often seen as being wrong. But, if you have a brain inside that head, you should be able to see that art is art, queer or not. In blocking our voices, it made us re-route and re-imagine how to work over quarantine, and how to overcome these obstacles. Art will not stop being made, and it just challenged us to continue making it. Look at us now! Unstoppable. 

PM. (Maya Ritchey/Queer Based Media)

What can we expect from the performance at the Queer Arts Festival?

PM: You can expect a whole lot of non-binary energy! We hope to take the viewers on a rollercoaster with this show. We paired up with Queer Based Media, and all I can say is the footage is hot. Hopefully you will shed a tear, laugh, and feel emotionally exhausted at the end of the hour!

Rose Butch: This has been the first time we’ve worked on a show in person since February, and the fact that one of our members (me) is physically distancing within the group has played into the creation process, so that’s something that you may pick up on. The QAF have also provided us with ASL interpretation, and we’ve been excited to collaborate on a show that’s more accessible to everyone. You can expect fantasy, lots of big feelings, and, in the spirit of Pride, some good old-fashioned resistance.

Maiden China: This is the largest project the four of us have ever worked on. Coming out of the restricted circumstances of the initial phases of quarantine that led us to create Quarantine I & II, we are all so thrilled to be back in a physical space together and pushing our boundaries with regard to our form. Rose, PM, and Continental blow me away every time they perform, and this Queer Arts Festival film is a testament to their creative excellence.

Continental Breakfast. (Maya Ritchey/Queer Based Media)

Where do you want to take The Darlings into the future? 

PM: I would love for The Darlings [to be] on ice or in outer space. That would be ideal. But for now, I think we want to really work as a collective on creating great content, and hit as many stages as we can. I (personally) would love more opportunities to tour with this amazing group of individuals. They are my best friends, and whenever we get out of the city it feels like what we are doing is stretching farther then our limbs can here in Vancouver. Touring makes what you do feel so impactful. 

Rose Butch: Hopefully back to performing for live audiences as soon as it’s safe to do so. And then, the world???

Maiden China: Stages across the world. On a major streaming platform. At film and theatre festivals abroad. I want The Darlings to be household.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. Watch The Darlings’ virtual performance at the Queer Arts Festival this Friday, July 24 and 7pm PT here.

INTERVIEWS with Lynx band member of Random Order & Rainbow Glitz Part of the troupe TOO SPIRITED – Indigenous Burlesque with Virago Nation at Vancouver Queer Arts Festival 2020

Queer FM | Episode July 7, 2020

8:00am – 10:00am

Lynx the trans-identified Toronto based vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, and producer Lynx has a major love of pop music with an edge and has an indie heart making his style truly stand out. Follow him http://www.randomorder.ca
www.facebook.com/randomorder 
www.randomorder.bandcamp.com 
www.twitter.com/randomorderband 

Rainbow Glitz
Part of the troupe TOO SPIRITED – Indigenous Burlesque with Virago Nation
Performing at the 12th Annual Queer Arts Festival July 17th

From their website viragonation.ca
www.instagram.com/randomorderband 
www.smarturl.it/RandomOrder_Spotify

Queer Arts Festival presenters : Anais West (Underground Absolute Fiction) & Danny Ramadan (A Night Of Storytelling)

Queer FM | Episode July 17, 2020

8:00am – 10:00am

Anais West is a queer actor, playwright, and producer, as well as a settler of Polish descent. She is the playwright of Underground Absolute Fiction, which has a reading at the Queer Arts Festival, in association with the frank theatre. Underground Absolute Fiction is an immersive play-meets-punk-concert, inspired by the apartment theatre of 1980s Poland. It invites audiences into a secret meeting at a post-Communist home. There, they join a queer punk band and Lena, a Polish-Canadian settler. Follow online.

https://queerartsfestival.com/underground-absolute-fiction/  
anaiswest.com

Danny Ramadan is a Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker, and LGBTQ+ refugee activist. A Night of Storytelling at the Queer Arts Festival is back for its fifth year and once again hosted by the much-beloved Danny Ramadan, this time around as a new online experience. Spend a night in with the talented LGBTQ2+ voices of the CanLit scene. Follow him online.

https://qafonline.ca/a-night-of-storytelling/
https://www.dannyramadan.com/bio/

Interview with Erica Hiroko Isomura a Vancouver-based Writer at the Queer Arts Festival 2020

Queer FM | July 21, 2020

8:00am – 10:00am

Erica Hiroko Isomura ‘A Conversation On Queer Mentorship’ writer based in Vancouver. Check out programming at Queer Arts Festival.
https://qafonline.ca/a-conversation-on-queer-mentorship/
Social media handles @ericahiroko (Twitter and Instagram) 
ericahiroko.ca

Vancouver Queer Arts Festival showcases its resilience in the digital world

CBC | July 19, 2020

Now in its 12th year, Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival isn’t letting physical distancing measures get in the way of its programming, as organizers reimagine the festival for the digital realm. 

Thierry Gudel, president of the Pride in Art Society, says the festival it puts on is as resilient as the communities it represents. 

“Safety is a luxury afforded to few: to those with homes, accessible health care, as well as those who don’t need to protest to have their lives valued by the state. As a result, our communities have become resilient. Queer Arts Festival is resilient, thanks to the passion and dedication of artists, volunteers, audiences, and staff,” said Gudel in a statement.

The festival, which takes place July 16-26, features a variety of performance, theatre, music, dance and literary events, all digitally streamed, with art installations throughout the city. 

Festival organizers are also creating a Queer Arts Festival magazine that will be mailed out to everyone on the festival mailing list, and will be available for pick-up at select open venues in the city.

The festival’s artistic director SD Holman says, ultimately, art can have transformative powers.

“We are often attracted to things, things that are written or other things that we already believe in,” Holman said.

“Good art has the ability to cut through that confirmation bias and open you up and transform you to new ideas.”

To attend or see more details about upcoming performances, visit the festival website.

Burlesque troupe Virago Nation are on a mission to reclaim Indigenous sexuality


 CBC Arts · Posted: Jul 16, 2020 11:45 AM ET by Peter Knegt 

Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival has gone virtual this year…and this is one event you won’t want to miss

As it has with pretty much every cultural event over the past four months, the pandemic has made Vancouver’s annual Queer Arts Festival go virtual — the silver lining of which is that we can all experience what it has to offer from wherever we are. From July 16-26, visual art, performance, theatre, music, dance and literary events will be presented across various platforms, all curated around the theme of WickedWicked‘s specific mission is to reimagine “identity politics, exposing the implications of homonormativity as erasure.” 

One major highlight of the festival is sure to be a performance by Virago Nation, a collective of Indigenous artists creating work “through burlesque, theatre, song and spoken word as well as workshops, and community networks rematriating Indigenous sexuality.” Featuring performers Shane Sable, Scarlet Delirium, Sparkle Plenty, Monday Blues, Lynx Chase and RainbowGlitz, the virtual event takes place July 17th at 7pm PT.

“You can expect to see amazing array of different styles, pushing the envelope of the art we call burlesque,” RainbowGlitz tells CBC Arts. “We are all leaving not only our hearts but our own individual point of view on Indigenous sexuality. Get ready for the heart, power and super talent of this amazing group of Indigenous burlesque artists.”

Founded in May 2016, Virago Nation has been on a mission to “reclaim Indigenous sexuality from the toxic effects of colonization” ever since.

“It actually started with Shane Sable wanting to make a community for herself and other Indigenous artists,” RainbowGlitz says. “That’s why she reached out to Sparkle Plenty, Scarlet Delirium, Manda Stroyer and Ruthe Ordare and invited them to come together to talk, attend more Indigenous events and just be with each other on their journey to explore their Indigenous culture.”

“After meeting a few times they decided since they are all burlesque dancers, why not make it a troupe too? From there, they became Virago Nation. Shane posted on Facebook that they were forming a group and look for other Indigenous burlesque dancers, and that’s how I joined the group.”

RainbowGlitz says that “through humour, seduction, pop culture and politics” the group will show that Indigenous women “will not be confined to the colonial virgin-whore dichotomy but design a new dynamic and multifaceted sexual identity rooted in their own desires.” 

RainbowGlitz. (Jon-Christian Ashby)

Like many artists, the past few months have been very up and down for the members of Virago Nation.

“We’ve just been taking it one day at a time,” RainbowGlitz says. “It’s been a little hard to be artistic for myself during this time, but a lot of us have been doing online shows and working on costumes while we have the somewhat downtime. But we all have different dreams for this amazing thing we call Virago Nation, and right now we are still letting the wind take us where we want to go.”

You’ll get to see where it takes them July 17th when Virago Nation show the world the many facets of Indigenous sexual rematriation

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there’s something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

Queer Arts Festival creates safer ways to express itself during COVID-19 times

Vancouver Sun | Jul 14, 2020 

Queer Arts Festival

When: July 16-26, 2020

Where: Online and some public art

Tickets and info: Register for events and pay by donation at queerartsfestival.com

Like many artists these days, acclaimed dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnonhas had to take a different approach to his work as the novel coronavirus pandemic has, for the most part, put the brakes on performing in front of live audiences.

Gagnon is one of many contributors to the annual artist-run, multidisciplinary Queer Arts Festival (QAF) that runs this year from July 16 to 26. His work The Crazy Show will be filmed at The Cultch without an audience and streamed July 25 and 26 as part of the 12th annual festival.

The last time the veteran contemporary dance artist did this show was four years ago. It’s safe to say what a difference time and a pandemic make. The artist is now playing to the camera, not the crowd.

Gagnon said the challenge to reshape his work has been “difficult but welcomed” as he said it pressed him to be more efficient with his time and body.

“The show is so tight and feels very strong and direct because now it is being performed for camera,” said Gagnon, a Montreal native who has called Vancouver home for 30 years.

“There is a 2D that creates a coldness and because we don’t have the budget of TV to create this amazing editing I had to really reconceptualize the idea of the images and how this character was pushing through. I am really happy about the changes.

“It’s about the negative space and the positive space, and the timing between. You realize there is something that is transmuted between you and your audience, but it is truly a 2D experience,” added Gagnon. “It was almost like creating pictures.”

The 50-minute solo show Gagnon explains is about a boy who uses his imagination a lot.

“It is the traditional journey of the hero on some level,” said Gagnon. “It is about finding yourself. I don’t know if we advance ultimately but you find your truth.”

Gagnon is one of about 40 artists who are contributing to this year’s QAF.

“First of all I think it is a great fit for the festival because the main thing about this show, This Crazy Show, is truly about the power of imagination as a source for survival.”

Choreographer/dancer Noam Gagnon is one of 40 artists taking part in this year's Queer Arts Festival on July 15-26, 2020. Gagnon's show This Crazy Show will be filmed at The Cultch and streamed online July 25 & 26, 2020 
Photo: Mark Mushet
Choreographer/dancer Noam Gagnon is one of 40 artists taking part in this year’s Queer Arts Festival, which runs July 16-26. Gagnon’s show, This Crazy Show, will be filmed at The Cultch and streamed online July 25 and 26. (Photo by Mark Mushet, contributed) MARK MUSHET/PNG

Those words ring true when you look at how so many live art events have had to figure out how to keep going during these physical-distancing times.

The QAF seems to have shifted to an impressive mixture of an online and live event. A dozen performances will be recorded at The Cultch and then streamed online.

This year called Wicked, QAF is celebrating “queer traditions of scandal and excess” with visual art, performance art, theatre, music, dance and literary events. Also the usual event program has been replaced bya spanking new 60-page, art-filled hard copy ’zine.

The festival’s artistic director SD Holman says artwork instead of usual advertising has been posted in bus shelters, on billboards and community projection screens.

“There will be some surprises in public art out and about town. And there will be mail art. We’re doing some other mail art aside from the ‘zine,” said Holman.

The multidisciplinary festival’s wide reaching net offers plenty of opportunity for artists to work and for their art to connect and support those 2SLGBTQ+ people who may be isolated by the COVID-19 outbreak without much of a support system.

“From the very beginning, for me closing or shutting down was not an option,” said Holman who is also a visual artist. “Personally, I would like nothing better then shutting down and being in my backyard for a few months, but I have staff I want to take care of and artists who need work.

“What I saw right away is that artists were losing work all over the place and, because where I come from, I think art is really, really important. Art changes people and people change the world.”

While having to reconfigure and remount, work has been tough on every level possible for the long-running festival. Holman points out that out of this weird self-isolating time there have been many moments to build more connections.

“That is the plus side. That is what I talked to my staff about from the very beginning. We’re all very sad, but this is an opportunity to reach a much broader audience and go more international,” said Holman, adding she has wanted to improve the festival’s online presence for some time.

“It really opens things up,” added Holman, who has had the idea for a virtual gallery in her strategic plan for some time. “There are people who wouldn’t necessarily come because they can’t get out of their homes for whatever reasons. So now they are able to do this.”

For the artists like Gagnon this new reality has also delivered some new-world positives and even excellent PR.

“People who wouldn’t be able to come here will still be able to see the show,” said Gagnon. “I think it is brilliant that it has opened the world to my performance.

“This whole COVID (pandemic) for me is filled and filled and filled with silver linings,” added Gagnon, who does weekly online sessions with friends and colleagues around the globe.

“I feel closer to the people in my life, but also with a culture and with a community around the world. The world has become closer.”

Event listings: 12 things to do this week, July 16-22

Vancouver Sun | Julia Piper | July 15

1. Matthew Good

Info: $20, sidedooraccess.com

When: July 17, 6 p.m.

Info: $20, sidedooraccess.com

Canadian singer-songwriter Matthew Good performs an acoustic set of songs from his expansive catalogue, from his home. This will be an interactive experience, with Matt answering questions from the audience. The evening will be hosted by Dan Mangan.


Bill Reid carving the Skidegate Pole, 1976
To Speak with a Golden Voice celebrates the centennial birthday of acclaimed artist Bill ReidPHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS HOPKINS/jpg

2. Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Where: 639 Hornby St.

Info: 604-682-3455, billreidgallery.ca

The Bill Reid Gallery is the only public gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast art. On July 16 the gallery opens two new exhibitions: To Speak with a Golden Voice, and Yahguudangang — To Pay Respect: The Repatriation Journey of the Haida Nation. To Speak with a Golden Voice celebrates the centennial birthday of acclaimed artist Bill Reid. The exhibit includes rarely seen artworks, works by Robert Davidson and Beau Dick, and two new commissions. | Housed in collections and museums around the globe, the Haida Nation have identified over 12,000 stolen or sold ceremonial objects, belongings, and ancestral human remains in the last century. The Yahguudangang exhibit showcases more than 1,000 images of such artifacts, offering a look at one nation’s drive to take back its cultural treasures and history.


3. Instrumental Measures — Gallo Chamber Players

Where: Online

When: July 17, 7 p.m.

Info: Free, knoxunitedvancouver.org

The Gallo Chamber Players are a Vancouver-based ensemble of early music performers. This free performance will consist of works from the classical era for two violins and cello. Featured on the program is a virtuoso violin duet by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and trios by Carl Stamitz and Francois-Joseph Gossec. A Performer’s Talkback will be held following the performance.


4. 2020 Queer Arts Festival: Wicked

Where: Online

When: July 16-26

Info:queerartsfestival.com

Vancouver’s artist-run, professional, multidisciplinary roister of queer arts, culture and history returns. The Queer Arts Festival (QAF) is recognized as one of the top five festivals of its kind worldwide and has garnered wide acclaim. This year the festival has been reimagined to provide Queer Art from a digital distance, bringing you 11 days of streaming art tours, performances, presentations and more.


Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery SUBMITTED PHOTO/COURTESY OF VAG

5. Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia

Where: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

When: July 18-January 3, 2021

Info: Regular gallery admission applies, vanartgallery.bc.ca

Featuring more than 300 works created from 1945 to 1975, the Gallery’s newest exhibit, Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia, is a broad look at the mid-century craft and design scene in B.C. Discover the furniture, fashion, ceramics, jewelry and textiles that defined West Coast Modern living in the mid-Twentieth Century.


6. Ladies Sing the Blues

Where: Online

When: July 18, 7 p.m.

Info: $19.50, bluefrogstudios.ca

Settle in for a homage to the blues giants including Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Aaron Neville, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Van Morrison, Jr. Walker, and many more. Features female vocalists Joani Bye, Nadine States, Leslie Harris, Catherine St. Germaine and Amanda Dean, backed by Rob Montgomery and his All-Star Band.


Lots of delicious treats and eats will be available at the Cloverdale Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival.GETTY IMAGES

7. Cloverdale Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival

Where: Cloverdale Fairgrounds, 6050 176th St., Surrey

When: July 18 and 19, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Info: Free admission, greatervanfoodtruckfest.com

This drive-thru food truck festival will feature seven different food trucks each day. Be sure to bring your appetite! Saturday’s line up will feature: Tin Lizzy Concessions — mini doughnuts, Mo-Bacon, Holi Masala, Lenny’s Lemons, Next Gen. Concessions Inc. — Street dogs, fries and poutine, Ford Concessions Inc. — Steve’O’s Fried Chicken, Betty’s Greek Honey Ballz — Loukoumades. | Sunday’s line up includes: Rocky Point Ice Cream, REEL Mac And Cheese, Wings Tap And Grill, Next Gen. Concessions Inc. — Funnel Cakes, The Truckin’ BBQ, Ford Concessions Inc.— Los Tacos Hermanos, Lenny’s Lemons.


8. Indian Summer Festival: 10th Anniversary Closing Party

Where: Online

When: July 18, 7-9 p.m.

Info: Registration is free. The Package is $55 and includes a home delivered meal and access to the after party, eventbrite.ca

The Indian Summer Festival wraps up their 10th anniversary with a closing party. This online version together is as close as you can to the real thing, and even comes with food! The event includes a concert featuring some of the most gifted musicians in our part of the world, plus a home-delivered multi-course menu by award-winning Chef Tushar of Indian Pantry. There will also be an after featuring DJ sets and a few surprises.


SASKATOON,SK--JUNE 27 9999-NEWS-SASK JAZZ- Dallas Green from City and Colour reforms at the Saskatchewan Jazz Fest held at the Bessborough Gardens in Saskatoon, SK on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix/Kayle Neis)
City and Colour presents a live stream concert, with Leon Bridges. KAYLE NEIS/Saskatoon StarPhoenix

9. Budweiser Stage at Home: City and Colour & Leon Bridges

Where: Online and Citytv

When: July 18, 8 p.m.

Info: citytv.com

The sixth episode of this weekly television series features singer songwriter, Dallas Green, who records under the name City and Colour, and was a singer, songwriter and guitarist for the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. Joining him will be Leon Bridges, whose debut album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards and won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2019.


10. Queens Park Craft Crawl

Where: Queens Park neighbourhood, New Westminster

When: July 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Info: royalcitygogos.org

The Royal City Gogos welcome you to the Queens Park Craft Crawl at four sites in New Westminster — 127 Queens Avenue, 123 Queens Avenue, 333 Third Street, and 117 Fifth Avenue. Find unique, high quality crafts and support local artists and artisans. All proceeds benefit to the Stephen Lewis Foundations’ Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in solidarity with African grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Shoppers are asked to wear masks, and COVID-19 safety guidelines will be followed.


Join the Stanley Park Ecology Centre and learn about the park’s resident beavers. GETTY IMAGES

11. Busy Beavers

Where: Online

When: July 21, 5-6:30 p.m.

Info: Sliding scale: $10-$20, must be purchased in advance, eventbrite.ca

Tune into this webinar presented by the Stanley Park Ecology Centre and learn about one of Stanley Park’s most charismatic creatures — the beaver! During this program, you will find out the beaver basics, like what they eat, why they chomp on trees, and the difference between lodges and dams. We’ll also talk about the beavers that live in Stanley Park, and how they help keep their namesake, Beaver Lake, healthy.


12. Art Masters 2020

Where: Lot 19, 855 W. Hastings St.

When: July 22, noon-2 p.m.

Info: Free, vanvaf.com

Art Masters is an art competition where eight professional artists create a piece of artwork based on a theme. The artists will have just one hour to create a piece using a mystery tool box filled with unconventional painting tools. Audience members can vote for their favourite piece, and the artworks will be auctioned off. Live music and an art sale will follow the competition. This is a weather dependent event.


Event listings can be emailed to Julia Piper: jpiper@postmedia.com

For a complete list of events or to submit your own community listing please visit vancouversun.com  or theprovince.com

Twelve things to do around Metro Vancouver the week of July 16-22

Vancouver Province | Julia Piper | July 15, 2020

1. Matthew Good

Where: Online

When: July 17, 6 p.m.

Info: $20, sidedooraccess.com

Canadian singer-songwriter Matthew Good performs an acoustic set of songs from his expansive catalogue, from his home. This will be an interactive experience, with Matt answering questions from the audience. The evening will be hosted by Dan Mangan.


To Speak with a Golden Voice celebrates the centennial birthday of acclaimed artist Bill Reid Photo credit: Chris Hopkins /  jpg

2. Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art

Where: 639 Hornby St.

Info: 604-682-3455, billreidgallery.ca

The Bill Reid Gallery is the only public gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast art. On July 16 the gallery opens two new exhibitions: To Speak with a Golden Voice, and Yahguudangang — To Pay Respect: The Repatriation Journey of the Haida Nation. To Speak with a Golden Voice celebrates the centennial birthday of acclaimed artist Bill Reid. The exhibit includes rarely seen artworks, works by Robert Davidson and Beau Dick, and two new commissions. | Housed in collections and museums around the globe, the Haida Nation have identified over 12,000 stolen or sold ceremonial objects, belongings, and ancestral human remains in the last century. The Yahguudangang exhibit showcases more than 1,000 images of such artifacts, offering a look at one nation’s drive to take back its cultural treasures and history.


3. Instrumental Measures — Gallo Chamber Players

Where: Online

When: July 17, 7 p.m.

Info: Free, knoxunitedvancouver.org

The Gallo Chamber Players are a Vancouver-based ensemble of early music performers. This free performance will consist of works from the classical era for two violins and cello. Featured on the program is a virtuoso violin duet by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, and trios by Carl Stamitz and Francois-Joseph Gossec. A Performer’s Talkback will be held following the performance.


4. 2020 Queer Arts Festival: Wicked

Where: Online

When: July 16-26

Info:queerartsfestival.com

Vancouver’s artist-run, professional, multidisciplinary roister of queer arts, culture and history returns. The Queer Arts Festival (QAF) is recognized as one of the top five festivals of its kind worldwide and has garnered wide acclaim. This year the festival has been reimagined to provide Queer Art from a digital distance, bringing you 11 days of streaming art tours, performances, presentations and more.


Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery Submitted photo/Courtesy of VAG

5. Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia

Where: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.

When: July 18-January 3, 2021

Info: Regular gallery admission applies, vanartgallery.bc.ca

Featuring more than 300 works created from 1945 to 1975, the Gallery’s newest exhibit, Modern in the Making: Post-War Craft and Design in British Columbia, is a broad look at the mid-century craft and design scene in B.C. Discover the furniture, fashion, ceramics, jewelry and textiles that defined West Coast Modern living in the mid-Twentieth Century.


6. Ladies Sing the Blues

Where: Online

When: July 18, 7 p.m.

Info: $19.50, bluefrogstudios.ca

Settle in for a homage to the blues giants including Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Aaron Neville, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Van Morrison, Jr. Walker, and many more. Features female vocalists Joani Bye, Nadine States, Leslie Harris, Catherine St. Germaine and Amanda Dean, backed by Rob Montgomery and his All-Star Band.


Lots of delicious treats and eats will be available at the Cloverdale Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival. Getty images

7. Cloverdale Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival

Where: Cloverdale Fairgrounds, 6050 176th St., Surrey

When: July 18 and 19, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Info: Free admission, greatervanfoodtruckfest.com

This drive-thru food truck festival will feature seven different food trucks each day. Be sure to bring your appetite! Saturday’s line up will feature: Tin Lizzy Concessions — mini doughnuts, Mo-Bacon, Holi Masala, Lenny’s Lemons, Next Gen. Concessions Inc. — Street dogs, fries and poutine, Ford Concessions Inc. — Steve’O’s Fried Chicken, Betty’s Greek Honey Ballz — Loukoumades. | Sunday’s line up includes: Rocky Point Ice Cream, REEL Mac And Cheese, Wings Tap And Grill, Next Gen. Concessions Inc. — Funnel Cakes, The Truckin’ BBQ, Ford Concessions Inc.— Los Tacos Hermanos, Lenny’s Lemons.


8. Indian Summer Festival: 10th Anniversary Closing Party

Where: Online

When: July 18, 7-9 p.m.

Info: Registration is free. The Package is $55 and includes a home delivered meal and access to the after party, eventbrite.ca

The Indian Summer Festival wraps up their 10th anniversary with a closing party. This online version together is as close as you can to the real thing, and even comes with food! The event includes a concert featuring some of the most gifted musicians in our part of the world, plus a home-delivered multi-course menu by award-winning Chef Tushar of Indian Pantry. There will also be an after featuring DJ sets and a few surprises.


City and Colour presents a live stream concert, with Leon Bridges. Kayle Neis /  Saskatoon StarPhoenix

9. Budweiser Stage at Home: City and Colour & Leon Bridges

Where: Online and Citytv

When: July 18, 8 p.m.

Info: citytv.com

The sixth episode of this weekly television series features singer songwriter, Dallas Green, who records under the name City and Colour, and was a singer, songwriter and guitarist for the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. Joining him will be Leon Bridges, whose debut album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards and won a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance in 2019.


10. Queens Park Craft Crawl

Where: Queens Park neighbourhood, New Westminster

When: July 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Info: royalcitygogos.org

The Royal City Gogos welcome you to the Queens Park Craft Crawl at four sites in New Westminster — 127 Queens Avenue, 123 Queens Avenue, 333 Third Street, and 117 Fifth Avenue. Find unique, high quality crafts and support local artists and artisans. All proceeds benefit to the Stephen Lewis Foundations’ Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign in solidarity with African grandmothers caring for children orphaned by AIDS. Shoppers are asked to wear masks, and COVID-19 safety guidelines will be followed.


Join the Stanley Park Ecology Centre and learn about the park’s resident beavers. Getty images

11. Busy Beavers

Where: Online

When: July 21, 5-6:30 p.m.

Info: Sliding scale: $10-$20, must be purchased in advance, eventbrite.ca

Tune into this webinar presented by the Stanley Park Ecology Centre and learn about one of Stanley Park’s most charismatic creatures — the beaver! During this program, you will find out the beaver basics, like what they eat, why they chomp on trees, and the difference between lodges and dams. We’ll also talk about the beavers that live in Stanley Park, and how they help keep their namesake, Beaver Lake, healthy.


12. Art Masters 2020

Where: Lot 19, 855 W. Hastings St.

When: July 22, noon-2 p.m.

Info: Free, vanvaf.com

Art Masters is an art competition where eight professional artists create a piece of artwork based on a theme. The artists will have just one hour to create a piece using a mystery tool box filled with unconventional painting tools. Audience members can vote for their favourite piece, and the artworks will be auctioned off. Live music and an art sale will follow the competition. This is a weather dependent event.


Event listings can be emailed to Julia Piper: jpiper@postmedia.com

For a complete list of events or to submit your own community listing please visit vancouversun.com  or theprovince.com

Noam Gagnon’s This Crazy Show takes to the virtual stage as part of this year’s Queer Arts Festival

Vancouver Presents By Mark Robins -July 16, 2020

Vancouver’s artist-run, professional, multi-disciplinary festival of queer arts, culture and history, takes place July 16 – 26

The 2020 Queer Arts Festival (QAF) gets underway today in a re-imagined virtual format.

Celebrating queer art, culture and history, this year’s QAF takes place July 16-26 across a variety of digital platforms, featuring everything from streaming art tours to online performances.

Among the online performances is Noam Gagnon’s This Crazy Show. The free pre-recorded contemporary dance piece will broadcast online July 25 and 26.

“I fell into this incredible quote from Albert Einstein that says: the true signs of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination,” says Gagnon. “The source of This Crazy Show is about the power of imagination as a source of survival.”

For the 57-year old Gagnon, his survival comes from dancing for 39 years and a desire to create a shift in approaching his work.Advertisement

“I had to rediscover a source of joy, pleasure,” he says. “It is clearly about the power of imagination to survive, as a force of survival or a way to create positive change or transformation in the body.”

First performed in 2016, Gagnon has gone back to the table with This Crazy Show for this most recent iteration.

“I’ve made a lot of cuts,” he says of the revised work. “It is now straightforward and re-choreographed to see how far I could push it. There is a little prologue that introduces the show and allows the audience to follow me through this incredible journey that happens in the performer’s body because it can be so abstract.”

It was also necessary for him to revisit the piece to fit the new digital format.

“It is made now for television, and there are certain things you need to do to hold an audience,” he says. “People are used to commercials every fifteen minutes, so I was trying to see how far I could maintain the focus. How could I manipulate it to keep them involved, engaged and curious.”

As an artist, Gagnon admits to being easily distracted and unfocused. It was another reason he felt the need to condense the work.

“It helped me be impartial about not having an attachment to the performance itself,” he explains. “It had to be viewed as if I was wearing a hat from the outside because it was not about me; it is about whether I am communicating what I am trying to do. I loved the process. Right from the start, it forced me to look it not from how I felt but what was needed. And that was fun.”

Gagnon also says one of the silver linings in going virtual is the potential to reach a broader audience.

“I love the fact that this show may find access for someone who could never be at the theatre or even in this city,” he says. “I love the fact communities are extending, and the piece is expanding now to communities may not have been able to be in Vancouver at the time of the showing. Maybe it will have an impact on someone, somewhere else in the world. ”

While This Crazy Show is billed as his “swan song,” Gagnon isn’t ruling out a return to dance should the right project come along. For now, though, he is content to share his knowledge and experience with a new generation of dancers.

“I don’t think you can leave something,” he says. “I can’t leave dance, but there is the reality that I am 57, and I’m rare for someone to be able to do what I am doing physically. I’m doing very well physically, but I have to think about the reality of the body. There is a cost.”

Going forward, Gagnon will re-focus his energy on helping younger dancers take the spotlight.

“I’ve had a great career and the countless experiences I have had are something I can pass on, something that I can share,” he says. “I’m truly loving being able to do both, but there is a reality, and I need to embrace it. Their bodies are way more resilient and willing to push themselves.”

For now, though, Gagnon is looking forward to presenting a show he calls “a little diamond in the rough.”

“In the rough, because it is like life, it’s not always polished,” he concludes. “Sometimes, it needs to be polished, and it is a metaphor for life. I hope people will see themselves in it.”

For more information on This Crazy Show and other performances and events at the 2020 Queer Arts Festival, visit queerartsfestival.com.