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Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for December 9 to 11

Self-portrait entitled "Julie" by Julie LaPalme, whose work will be on view at Lemonjellow.

Friday, Dec. 9
If you’re looking for a fun holiday jam with a bit of an artsy twist, Lemonjellow’s weekend pARTy “Deck the Halls” is just the thing for you. Lemonjellow Productions is an art collective that aims to display art in all different sorts of ways. This weekend, the works of nine local artists will be on display and for sale at back-to-back holiday parties. The party starts at 8pm this Friday and lasts well into the night with the help of a DJ and some Christmas tunes. Bring a present to be re-gifted in support of Pink Triangle Youth, and leave with some great art priced $50-$300. A party runs Saturday at the same time, and a tamer cookies-and-coffee party is happening on Sunday.

If you’re looking to take a break from the holiday madness, take a road trip to Gananoque (about two hours away), where you can catch Robin Hood! A Children’s Holiday Pantomime. This beloved adventure story is being performed as a “panto” – a performance with a musical-comedy twist that has men playing women… and vice-versa! Some laughs, a fun road trip, a good time with family and friends, and a unique performance style – this outing has it all. Play runs until Dec. 23.

Saturday, Dec. 10
If you’re looking to broaden your cultural horizons beyond Santa Claus, come out to Carleton University’s campus on Saturday night. No, we’re not suggesting joining the students who are studying for exams; instead, check out Kala Tarang: An Evening of Indian Dance and Music, which is a concert highlighting the work of the students of Gharana Arts. Other performers include Kasturi Mishra, who will be performing traditional Kathak Nritya, and Udit Bhide and Ravi Singh, performing Sitar and Tabla Vadhya. Whether you are familiar with this style of dance or not, you will walk away with an increased knowledge of the rich cultural traditions of Indian performing arts.

As if the holidays don’t have enough temptation, the Ottawa Locavore Artisan Food Fair (LAFF) is back for a second year. This Saturday, 25 local food artisans will be coming together to sell their delicious products, including cookies, pies, cheeses, jams, chocolates, and more. Sample some products and choose your favourites to purchase as gifts or to take home for yourself. A silent auction of select products will raise money for the School Breakfast Program that feeds 11,000 children in Ottawa daily. So head out to delight your taste buds and support a good cause, as well. (more…)

Salute to Victoria’s Artistic Season

Winter in Victoria brings shorter days for sure, but it also brings a thriving arts calendar with plenty to entertain.

Stage Struck

The University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre continues its 2011-12 season with Ben Travers’ witty, fast-paced Rookery Nook, November 3 to 19. Comparable to the comedies of Noel Coward, the tale follows two fun-loving friends who get caught in a tangled web of silly white lies and flirtatious innuendos.

Following in February is Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice, a reimagining of the classic myth of Orpheus and the Underworld through the eyes of its quirky heroine, Eurydice – “a magical and little menacing twist on an age-old tale.”

From the city’s historic Belfry Theatre comes David French’s Jitters, November 15 to December 18. As a new play is poised to open, plunge into a hilarious world of larger-than-life personalities, easily bruised egos, faulty props, lost lines and a visit from a big-time producer – all adding to the opening night “jitters” of cast, crew, writer and director.

Come January, it’s time for on the edge at the Belfry January 24 to February 26, featuring Susinn McFarlen in a tour de force performance exploring three women from three very different walks of life.

Langham Court Theatre is one of Victoria’s longest -standing companies for good reason. This winter, enjoy The Beauty Queen of Leenane, November 17 to December 3, featuring drama, suspense and black comedy in a small Irish village. The stage takes on a musical tone in January when Langham Court presents The Drowsy Chaperone, a Tony Award-winner recalling the golden age of musical theatre.

Dance, Victoria!

Take a time out during the hectic holiday season to enjoy Ballet Victoria’s Cinderella & the Fairy Tale Ball, when dazzling fairy tale guests offer music, magic, humour and holiday cheer at the Royal Theatre December 27 to 30.

Dance Victoria’s season continues with England’s Random Dance, from choreographer Wayne McGregor, before welcoming Alberta Ballet and the Victoria Symphony for the holiday production of The Nutcracker, December 2 to 4. Come February, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba visits to present an evening of mixed repertoire of classical ballet.

Making Music

Musical diversity rules this winter as Victoria welcomes shows ranging from Canadian rocker Matthew Good to classic opera.

November 10 to 20 presents the world premiere of Pacific Opera Victoria’s Mary’s Wedding: “The story is eternal. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. But the year is 1914, and Mary and Charlie must surrender their love and their fate to the uncertainties of their tumultuous times.”

Turning the calendar to February, POV presents Bizet’s Carmen, in French with English surtitles. “Bad, beguiling, and dangerous to know, Carmen will never let herself be chained down by any one man. When she fixes on Don José as her next (but certainly not her last) lover, the naïve but volatile young soldier hasn’t a chance… Tragedy is inevitable, but what a ride along the way!”

On a lighter note, the 80-voice Starlight Pops Choir will get toes tapping in February with Pop Rocks!, featuring classic tunes from Elton John, Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt, U2, Coldplay and more, February 3 and 5 at St. Aidan’s United Church, 3703 St. Aidan’s St, about 20 minutes from downtown. For details, visit  www.starlightpopschoir.com

Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra celebrates a remarkable 26th season with performances November 27 and February 12 at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium, under the baton of Yariv Aloni.

February’s Salute to the Rat Pack from the Victoria Symphony is sure to be a highlight of the New Year. Join the symphony and vocalist Matt Catingub for a celebration of the music, artistry and songs of Las Vegas and the “Rat Pack,” including I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Night and Day, Ain’t that a Kick in the Head
and A Lot of Livin’ To Do. For more performances see pages 17 to 21.

Hot Dates: Perpetual motion

Live Art Dance Productions is in the midst of a busy season of contemporary dance, with three shows at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. On November 2, BJM Danse from Montreal offers an evening of playful jazz dance. Following them on November 18, contemporary dancers Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux perform three works by James Kudelka. And from December 1 to 3, O Vertigo makes its Halifax debut with Onde de choc, a “hymn to the body’s internal forces.”

Hot Dates: On fire for flamenco

Photo: Jennifer Payne

The Fall for Flamenco Festival, October 22 to 30, celebrates everything flamenco with: stomping feet, coiling wrists, scrumptious tapas, roses, guitar melodies and soulful song. Check out free concerts, local talent features, workshops, master classes, and an authentic flamenco performance with guest artists from Spain.

Hot Dates: 5 Sure Things

Boyz II Men perform at Casino Nova Scotia on May 24 and 25.

•    Continuing through May: Art 1274 Hollis showcases works by gallery members, spotlighting Pat Shattuck and Marilyn Hatfield this month.
•    May 5 to 7: Live Art Dance Productions presents Vancouver’s 605 Collective, which explores “the erosion of intimacy in the age of social media” at Dalhousie Arts Centre.
•    May 7: Symphony Nova Scotia’s season-ending Beer and Beethoven concert features classical, big band and Maritime music (and yes, beer) at the World Trade and Convention Centre on Argyle Street.
•    May 7: Canadian rocker Burton Cummings performs an intimate concert at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street.
•    May 24 and 25: Boyz II Men play two sets at Casino Nova Scotia.

Riverdance: A Night to Remember


The Irish Dance Troupe takes the stage performing the spellbinding number "Riverdance" at the end of Act 1. Courtesy Clark James Mishler, Courtesy of Abhann Productions

by Allison Onyett

Seeing Riverdance has been on my bucket list since I first watched the energetic Celtic troupe on TV in my teens. Even from the comfort of my living room their swift footwork was exhilarating. Tuesday night at the Jubilee Auditorium, I finally had the opportunity to see the show live.

Producer Moya Doherty, Composer Bill Whelan and Director John McColgan started Riverdance in Dublin in 1995. Their vision was to create a unique, exciting performance rooted in folk memory and arts of the Irish people. On tour with Broadway Across Canada in its 16th season, the Irish phenomenon continues this tradition, and tells the history of Celtic culture through Irish dance. (more…)

Hot Dates: Bodies in Motion

Photo: Donald Lee

• March 19: Wen Wei Dance joins the Beijing Modern Dance Company as Live Art Dance Productions presents Under the Skin at the Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue. An international cast of 12 talented dancers explores the ties beneath superficial differences.

• March 26: The Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada brings its smash hit The Phantom of the Opera to the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Hot Date: Winnipeg Ballet’s Passionate Dance

Photo by Bruce Monk

FEBRUARY 10 TO 12 The Royal Winnipeg Ballet pays tribute to notorious French cabaret Moulin Rouge with high-kicking choreography and music. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m., $44 to $208.50; call 416-872-2262 or click here to buy.

Hot Date: Shen Yun’s Asian Artistry

JANUARY 13 TO 16 Travel through five thousand years of Chinese history with Shen Yun Performing Arts. The renowned troupe explores the country’s diverse regions and the legends underpinning its culture with a program that combines traditional dance and music with beautiful costumes and impressively elaborate settings projected on a six-storey 3D backdrop. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Thursday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $60 to $280; call 416-248-1168 or click here for more information.

Hot Date: Mumbai Mania

NOVEMBER 4 TO 14 The glitz and glamour of India is on full display in The Merchants of Bollywood, a song-and-dance extravaganza that pays tribute to the past and present of the subcontinent’s show business. More than 40 performers are adorned in 3,800 costumes and 2,000 pieces of jewellery from Mumbai’s renowned Film City studios to create a dazzling display of culture. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, various times, $30 to $92.50; call 416-872-2262 or click here to purchase.

Hot Date: West Side Steps

Dancers perform the West Side Story Suite (photo by Bruce Zinger)

June 4 to 13 A commentary on prejudice and intolerance woven into a tale of star-crossed love is the heart of West Side Story. This month the National Ballet of Canada distills the vital essence of that beloved musical with its West Side Story Suite, which offers highlights from Jerome Robbins’ thrilling choreography set to the original score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The performance is followed by Opus 19/The Dreamer—also by Robbins—and an untitled world-premiere piece by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Wednesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $20 to $200; call 416-345-9595 to reserve.

Hot Date: Swoon for Swan Lake

The National Ballet of Canada's Swan Lake (photo by David Cooper)

MARCH 11 TO 21
Ask any budding ballerina to make a list of her dream roles and Princess Odette from Swan Lake is bound to be on it. And for good reason—the haunting strains of Tchaikovsky’s score and the sensual grace required of the dancers never fail to cast a spell on audiences. The National Ballet of Canada presents the 19th-century masterpiece with choreography by James Kudelka, whose renowned interpretation highlights the tragic implications of this tale of doomed love between a prince and a princess who has been transformed into a swan. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $20 to $210; call 416-345-9595 or navigate here for times and tickets.