A&E » Arts

Blue Earth a distinctly Canadian celebration of the elements

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What: Blue Earth

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Saturday, Feb. 28, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $10

Cultural dance performances are an integral part of Olympic themed celebrations, so it’s fitting that the Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Showcase will dance its final weekend away.

Whistler Dance Theatre, a group that also performed as part of last year’s Celebration 2010 events, will be premiering Blue Earth this Saturday evening on the MY Place stage.

The performance is a marriage of dance and choreographed visuals organized around the concept of the four elements: water, air, earth and fire.

Dancer/director Trina Eby is joined by Vancouver imports Jill Henis and Monica Strehlke for a series of high-energy, gymnastic dance numbers. Interspersed with the dance performances Blue Earth features choreographed photo essays by the Whistler Photographic Society set to music, as well as computer-generated multi-media works by Paul Lincoln and Mush Ridzwan.

The collaboration with the visual mediums is nothing new for Eby, who says the incorporation of familiar forms like film and photography can make contemporary dance more accessible to mainstream audiences.

Eby says a common misconception is that modern dance is a "dark and angsty" artform. But the dancing audiences can expect to see in Blue Earth is a more physical spectacle, bearing resemblance to the Brazilian martial art/dance hybrid Capoeira.

The elemental concept was very much influenced by an Asian worldview, says Eby, who resided temporarily in Singapore before returning to the Sea to Sky corridor three years ago. At that point she took up as a director for the Whistler Dance Academy and president of the Whistler Dance Society – an organization dedicated to promoting "the education, creation, exploration, development and presentation of dance and the arts, and to advance the arts, specifically dance to the advantage of the general public."

Prior to Singapore, Eby completed graduate studies in dance in San Francisco. These places, among others, she says, have all had a mosaic-like influence on her choreography. Since Canada prides itself on its cultural mosaic approach to nation building, her projects reflect a distinctly Canadian style of dance, exceptionally appropriate for an Olympic-themed Arts Showcase, and destined to be a part of Olympic celebrations to come.

With its athleticism, Blue Earth also seems to reflect a distinct Whistler aesthetic, but as much as Eby emphasizes the physicality of the piece, she also emphasizes that it is not sport MY Place-goers will witness on Saturday night, but the oft-misunderstood art form of dance.

"It’s a very artistic performance," she concludes. "A lot of people are very used to dance as entertainment, but not in an artistic context."

Blue Earth will be performed this Saturday evening at MY Place. The show starts at 8 p.m. The event is part of Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Showcase, which wraps up officially with the opening reception for the MY Place gallery exhibit revive REJUVENATE renew on Thursday, March 4. For more information call 604-935-8410 or go to www.whistlerartscouncil.com.

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