Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
January 24th, 2015

Vancouver, BC: The internationally renowned Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is a New York based company of "professional male dancers performing ... ballet and modern dance including classical and original works in faithful rendition of the manners and conceits of those dance styles."

The comic effect arises from seeing masculine bodies performing movements normally danced by sylphe-like dainty ballerinas and  as the program notes state,  exaggerating the "foibles, accidents and underlying incongruities of serious dance."  For me awe and admiration arose from seeing  how masculine strength powering great technique, whether dancing en pointe or jeté-ing across the stage,  adds a totally different dimension to a familiar dance.

The company was founded in 1974 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary season tour.  The one Vancouver performance  on January 24 th, marks the first time since 1985 Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has played Vancouver and the 2765 seat Queen Elizabeth Theatre was sold out. I was surprised that there was only one show here as both Calgary and Edmonton had two performances scheduled.

The entertainment begins even before the curtain rises, on reading the Meet the Artists section in the program. The "biographies" associated with the artists' names (some of my favorites Tatiana Youbetyabootskaya, Helen Highwater, Leftove, Paranova, Repelski) are clever and humorous.

Bullet Catch
Written and performed by Rob Drummond
Co-directed by Rob Drummond and David Overend
In association with The Arches, Glasgow.
Arts Club Revue Stage
Jan 15 to Feb 7th, 2015

Vancouver, BC: The infamous, occasionally lethal Bullet Catch is an illusion or magic trick in which the performer "catches" a bullet fired directly at him/her in the mouth or hand. Using the story of one such lethal performance told through notes from the man who unwittingly fires the fatal shot, Rob Dummond has created a performance piece for two people.

He selects his playing partner from among audience volunteers by observing their responses to hs questions, demonstrating his "mentalist" skills. This person is on stage throughout the remainder of the show. According to the program notes Bullet Catch has been publicly performed over  100 times, which means he has worked with over a hundred different  participants. This must be quite an intriguiing experience for a professional actor.

Ruby Slippers Theatre production of two plays by contemporary Francophone Quebec playwrights, Jennifer Tremblay and Christian Begin, opens January 28th at Studio 16. (Preview January 27).

The English translation by Leanna Brodie, of Begin's Après Moi, was commissioned by Ruby Slippers so this is the premiere production of the English language work. Directed by Diane Brown, with Scott Bellis, David Bloom, Jennifer Lines, Chirag Naik and Dawn Petten in the cast, Après Moi looks at a story of relationships in six different ways.

Tremblay's The List, (English translation by Shelley Tepperman) was produced by Nightwood Theatre in Toronto in 2010 and as an installation piece in the 2012 rEvolver Festival but this upcoming production is the Professional English Language Premiere on the West Coast. While Après Moi has an ensemble cast, The  List tells one woman's story. Jack Paterson directs France Perras as the woman.

My chat with Jack Paterson began as a discussion of the work he and France Perras had done on their earlier production of The List.

Underneath the Lintel
by Glen Berger
Directed by Paul Muir
Rosebud Theatre and Pacific Theatre
Pacific Theatre
Jan 9 to 31, 2015

Vancouver, BC:  The stage is bare save for a chalkboard, a chair, a slide projector and a large trunk covered with travel labels. A slightly disheveled man wanders in and out of the playing space, fussing with the projector, a cassette player and a too-high projection screen.
This is The Librarian (Nathan Schmidt), and he is preparing to share with us some startling discoveries. As a retired professor, I watch the fidgeting with his not-quite right audio-visual equipment with much amusement. Been there, done that ...  a lot. 

But then The Librarian brings out his most prized possession from his years at the book return desk of the library - and I realize I will never think of a date-stamper as an insignificant device again. You'll find out why!

Portobello Ristorante
1429 West Broadway (cross street Granville)
Phone (604) 734-0697 or reserve online at OpenTable

Wanting a light pre-show supper, protein-based with flavourful fresh salads or vegetables, we chose Portobello Restaurant before going to see Underneath the Lintel at Pacific Theatre. Our needs were perfectly satisfied though we had to conscientously (and sadly) decline their delicious bread.

Supping In Vancouver: Black+ Blue Restaurant
1032 Alberni St.,
Vancouver, V6Z 2V6
Ph: (604) 634-0777 or Reserve online

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon Black Blue on Foodio54

Among our family dine-outs over the holidays, a dinner at Black+ Blue Restaurant was an unexpected stand-out. Normally appreciating the high quality of the Glowbal Group's local restaurants, we were surprised by a sequence of negative reviews of Black+ Blue Restaurant on a popular bar-and-restaurant guide and decided to check it out for ourselves.

In summary, we enjoyed excellent service,  excellent food, and a comfortable warm ambience. The sound and the table spacing was such that we could talk comfortably among ourselves. The background music was fine other than the occasional song that made me want to break into a Jive or  East Coast Swing. (And that's good!). Although we were there for an early sitting at 6 PM, and the restaurant was crowded, we were  never rushed and had a relaxed and leisurely dinner. So much for negative reviews.


Kayak by Jordan Hall
Directed by Rachel Peake
An Alley Theatre Production
Firehall Arts Centre
Jan 7 - 17, 2015

Vancouver, BC: In Annie Iverson and Julie Daniels, local play wright Jordan Hall has crafted two powerful female characters who engage in an epic battle for the heart and soul of Annie's son Peter. Annie (Susan Hogan) is a regular middle-class mother. She is concerned  about the environment enough to recycle her trash but her mind is far more occupied with making sure Peter (Sebastian Kroon), finishes his business degree and gets a decent corporate job. Imagine her dismay when her normally compliant son falls for Julie (Marisa Smith), an aggressive, single-minded activist nutcase who is obsessed with the idea that humans are destroying the earth and charges off at the drop of a hat to join protests around the world.

To exercise restraint  during my first time outing to shop at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall I set myself three rules of operation. 

Kate Spade PurseNumber one, I needed to keep in mind the maximum allowable duty free allowance coming back into Canada - and this would keep me within budget. Number two, to achieve rule one,  was that I had to stick to my pre-written list of items - no random purchases.  Number three - if an item wasn't absolutely perfect for what I had in mind, it had to stay on the shelf - no buyer's remorse allowed.

Browsing the jewelry section in the Brighton Collectibles store to find gifts for the upcoming holidays, my eye was drawn to a pair of colourful earrings.  I had had great success finding what I needed for myself at the previous day's visit to the Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall, and had no intention of buying anything more for myself.

But the colours of the cabachons of the earrings so beautifully matched the colours of my multi-coloured smooth ballroom dress that they called out to me to buy them. Then I found that there was also a matching bangle and added that to my purchase.

Lolita's South of the Border Cantina
1326 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
Ph: (604) 696-9996

Lolita's on Urbanspoon

Until now, despite rave reviews about the food from friends who live in the neighborhood and frequent this cantina, I have foolishly avoided joining them for fear that I would be subjected to dishes flavoured with the dreaded cilantro. But finally others in our group planned a dinner there and I joined them.

guacamoleOur helpful server checked with the chefs and reassured me that my food choices would be cilantro-free and I ultimately enjoyed a  very nice dinner with dishes sans the soapy green herb.

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