DanceHouse presents a favourite thing

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Forget Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, there’s a new reason to love the von Trapp family.  Only this time they are not singing their way out of Austria … they’re dancing … as Vancouver’s DanceHouse brings Doug Elkins and Friends’ Fräulein Maria to the Vancouver Playhouse in February.

Fraülein Maria

Featuring the much-loved Rogers and Hammerstein music from the movie version of The Sound of Music, the piece is choreographed by former b-boy-turned choreographer Doug Elkin.  Originally a “dance love letter to his children”, Elkins has taken the timeless movie classic and underpinned with a diverse range of dance styles including street breaking, hip hop, modern and ballet.

Fräulein Maria takes its audiences from the snow-capped peaks of Hollywood, through the world of the New York downtown art scene giving a nod to the likes of Martha Graham, Willi Ninja (Paris is Burning), Balanchine and others,” explained DanceHouse Producer Jim Smith.  “It really is a remarkable piece of high energy performance.”

And while Smith says it would be easy to characterize Fraülein Maria as a romp, given the kitsch factor provided by the Rogers and Hammerstein score and its new-found place in popular culture, he says one must breakdown the performance and examine all its ingredients.

“The choreography, the stellar performers, the popularity of the music, Fräulein Maria is an interesting take on the art of the ‘cultural remix’ – that is repurposing and mashing up existing material with new found cultural currency and meaning,” said Smith.

Bringing Fraülein Maria to Vancouver is a natural fit for Smith and DanceHouse whose aim is to bring Vancouver large-scale contemporary dance from all over the world.

“Work such as this has regularly been presented in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa,” said Smith, “but only since the formation of DanceHouse in 2008 has there been an ongoing series dedicated to presenting this type of work.”

But while DanceHouse’s mission may be to bring dance to Vancouver from around the world, Smith is quick to point out that it is not because of any lack of talent locally, but by current funding policies that makes it difficult for local artists.

“Vancouver is a remarkable centre for contemporary dance,” said Smith.  “There is absolutely no shortage of talent when one looks at the choreographers and performers that are based here who have enjoyed national and international careers. Sadly, it is true that you are disadvantaged if you chose to base your dance career here in Vancouver at this time.”

Given that disadvantage, it is perhaps not difficult to see why DanceHouse exists bringing world-class shows like Fraülein Maria, and its upcoming presentations of Under the Skin, a co-production between the Beijing Modern Dance Company and Vancouver’s Wen Wei Dance, to Vancouver audiences.

And those, no doubt, will be a few your favourite things.

Fraülein Maria
Vancouver Playhouse
3 – 5 February 2011 @ 8pm

For more information, call 604.801.6225 or visit Tickets are $35 – $65 available by calling 604.280.3311 or online.  Pre-show chat with company members, free with show ticket, 7:15pm, upper lobby, Vancouver Playhouse each performance date.

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