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Whistler to showcase local talent in Celebration 2010

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When the International Olympic Committee gets into town during the first week of March, Whistler’s talented arts community will be on centre stage.

"It is an amazing opportunity for the local arts groups," said Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council.

That opportunity is Celebration 2010, a three-week extravaganza showcasing Canadian arts and culture throughout the province.

The event will kick off on Valentine’s Day and won’t end until the IOC delegation gets back on the plane March 6.

It is designed to dazzle and entertain but also to educate people about the importance of culture to the Olympic movement.

"As you know, arts and culture is one of the central pillars of the Olympic movement," said Duncan Low, producer of Celebration 2010 at Monday’s council meeting.

He added that the sole purpose of the event is to help secure the 2010 Olympics for Vancouver.

The municipality kicked in $50,000 for Celebration 2010, bringing the total program funding to $880,000 after contributions from Vancouver, the province and the federal government.

Over 400 planned events, some musical and visual others literary and electronic, will make up Celebration 2010, and Whistler is setting the stage for its own talent.

The Whistler Arts Council will be co-ordinating the efforts of several local groups, charged with providing the entertainment for Celebration 2010. Groups like the Whistler Dance Academy, the Whistler Photographic Society, Whistler Singers, and Whistler Gymnastics, among others, will be taking part in the celebrations.

The week promises to showcase "a myriad of local talent," according to Niedermayer. More importantly, it has combined the talents of dancers, singers, gymnasts, writers and artists in an unique opportunity of working together.

"(It has allowed) the local arts community to come together and work together as a team for probably the first time ever," said Niedermayer.

One of the major Whistler events will be the Dance Media on the Slopes, on Friday, Feb. 28.

This two-hour dance performance will use the snowy slopes as a large-scale projection screen. It will be a multi-media contemporary dance event at the base of Whistler Mountain, which includes live dance, video and slide projection.

The dancers will use the electronic images flashing over their bodies and on the slopes in their performances. Each piece will have its own special focus but the common theme of nature will be evident throughout.

Another major event is Olympic Art by Whistler Youth. Again, this combines dancers and singers who use their artistic talents to explore the idea of the Olympic Games with themes such as athletes, myth, metals, gods, torches and competition.

Dotted throughout the three weeks are separate performances put on by the Whistler Public Library, the Whistler Film Festival, and the Museum & Archives Society, among others.

"(The Olympics) are here to build culture. We always think of the sports," said Niedermayer.

"From the arts perspective, whatever you think about the Olympics, it’s a huge opportunity."

Tourism Whistler will also be taking part by showcasing components of their existing festivals. There will be an ice sculpting event, a Taste of Whistler event and a smaller version of the First Nations festival, Weetama.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly perhaps sums it up best on the Celebration 2010 Web site where he writes:

"From the start of Whistler’s history as a resort community, culture and the arts have been entwined with recreation and sport.

"Celebration 2010 gives us all a broader canvas on which to express our resort community values and celebrate our way of life."

Niedermayer added that if Vancouver gets the Olympics, Celebration 2010 is just a taste of what’s in store for local, provincial and national arts and culture down the road.

For more information about the events, with a detailed list of performances around the province, check out www.celebration2010.com.

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