Explosion of Talent at the Queer Arts Festival

Dare being challenged. Risk being changed at this year’s Queer Arts Festival at the Roundhouse. From July 23 to August 9, the festival will highlight cutting-edge performance art, music, visual arts, literature and more by artists of all ages at this year’s festival under the theme “ReGenerations.”


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Be in Step with Dance Walking

NBC reporter Ben Aaron with Joe (previously known as The Nameless Dance Walk Guru Master)

NBC reporter Ben Aaron doing the shimmy shake with The Nameless Dance Walk Guru Master (later revealed to be a man named Joseph)

Workload, hectic schedules, deadlines, busy times…when it comes to life, we’re used to dancing to its tune! Now you can ‘dance walk’ your way into staying in great shape too.

Back in 2012, Emmy award-winning NBC reporter Ben Aaron introduced a workout routine called Dance Walking. It was an idea inspired during one of Aaron’s usual hilarious reports from the streets when he saw a man taking a rhythmic stroll as he cruised down 5th Avenue in New York City. Surprised yet intrigued, Aaron joined him for a minute in the dancing and then watched the man continue on his way – still ‘dance walking’.

Aaron realized that this was the right workout for him, combining his love for three things: interacting with people, seeing the city and dancing. Taking inspiration from what he saw, Aaron created an entire segment on dance walking in which New Yorkers danced down the sidewalks in the Big Apple with him. Thereafter, people around the world responded. Mass hysteria for dance walking swept across the globe, including in Canada (namely in Toronto, Vancouver and Whistler).

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Sounds of Summer at the Roundhouse

Summer in Vancouver is awesome! One of my favorite activities is outdoor concerts.


Music from the big screen on the Roundhouse Plaza Turntable. Photo by Karen Clare, 2014

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Express Yourself: Freestyle Painting

Ming believes passing on the tradition of free style Chinese painting as her duty. Photo by Ming Yeung.

Ming believes passing on the tradition of free style Chinese painting as her duty. Photo by Ming Yeung.

Imagine telling your young ones about one ultimate rule: that there is no rule. Then watch, as their minds do wonders. Create the unimagined, go beyond the standard. What you need is Chinese freestyle painting.

Let them paint it red! Or even blue, or orange, because it’s free style and it’s colourful. They can forget tools and techniques, this is all about driving the passion to draw.

Chinese free style painting doesn’t need any prior experience or groundwork. It is done with a brush dipped in black or coloured ink. No drawn pictures or landscapes. It is one of the oldest artistic traditions in the world, and continues to inspire artists to be involved in painting by pouring out their mind.

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Finding Inspiration in Open Spaces: Creating Theatre in Hadden Park

Creating Theatre

How do we relate to public outdoor spaces? Photo Source:

On a recent Sunday visit to Hadden Park, you may have sighted performers transforming the open space of the park into a site of theatrical creation. Here, performers are finding inspiration in sounds, sights, and places around them; perhaps a shaded spot beneath a tree, a choir of barking dogs, or an abandoned sailboat resting on the beach.

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All You Gotta Do Is Swing: A Brief History of Swing Dance

Jen and Sergio showing off their moves during swing class on the Turntable. Photo by Riz Herbosa.

Jen and Sergio showing off their moves during swing class on the Turntable. Photo by Riz Herbosa.

The first time I saw swing dance in person, I was at a 1920s party where a live band played songs from the era. Just over the heads of the mesmerised onlookers, I spied a pair of stockinged legs. I wove through the crowd to get a closer look.  A man in a white shirt, slacks, suspenders and a fedora  was spinning a woman in a vintage polka dot dress and high heeled shoes across the shiny wood dance floor.  It was like no dancing I had ever seen.  He guided her spins and twists with just a light touch of his hand.  They swivelled, kicked and jumped to the swinging tunes. Then, he bent down low and she flipped over his back, her legs were propelled into the air – I was hooked.

I just had to learn those moves.

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Change is Coming to Vancouver

Spur Vancouver. Fuel Vancouver. Connect Vancouver. With these calls to action, change is coming to Vancouver! What this change will bring is anyone’s guess but here’s a peek at five growing trends in the city that have been repeatedly catching my eye.


Three FUEL speakers from L to R: Sarah Goodman, Eesmyal Santos-Brault, Naveen Girn
Photos: Fuel Vancouver and Vancouver Is Awesome

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Nerd Alert! Vancouver Comic Arts Festival

bee and puppycat - courtesy of Cartoon Hangover

Bee and Puppycat, courtesy of Cartoon Hangover.

My inner nerd squealed with joy when I heard that Roundhouse will be hosting the Vancouver Comic Arts Festival this May 24 & 25. Comics come in all shapes and sizes. There is no discrimination. The comic world is open to all. Some like it as print, some like it as cartoons, and others prefer performance art.

Being a huge fan of the comic web series, I was instantly drawn to the event Bee & Puppycat Go Very Fast! An Afternoon Variety Soiree. On May 24, creators Natasha Allegri et al will craft and read fan-fiction created with the assistance of the audience. Pretty cool!

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Grow a Backyard On Your Balcony

use this fig

Fig Newtons, anyone?
Photo by Karen Clare

I grew up having fruit trees in the backyard.  Each summer my mother baked apple pies and made applesauce.  I would climb our plum tree to pick a snack.  Today, many of us live in apartments or condominiums and the thought of growing our own food seems like a fond memory.  So I was delighted to have a conversation with Radina Jevdvic, gardening guru and Roundhouse instructor, who challenged this assumption.  “My mission is to get people to grow food on their balconies” she says.  The trick is knowing how the gardening conditions of balconies differ from yard gardens, making appropriate container decisions, and choosing the right plants suited to either sunny or shady areas.

Radina suggests growing fruits and vegetables that are normally expensive to buy when sold commercially.  A few leaves of organic kale can be pricey when purchased at the grocery store, but can be grown on the balcony year round.  In fact, she tells me a little snow or cold weather will actually turn the leaves sweeter.  Blueberries, goji berries, raspberries, and kiwifruit will all grow well on balconies; as will lettuce, beets, carrots, beans, potatoes, turnips, and radishes.

Even fruit trees can be grown on a balcony; dwarf versions of apple, pear, cherry, and fig trees are ideal.   These specialized varieties are smaller trees, but produce fruit that is of the same size and taste as their larger cousins.  Around the base of these trees, flowers and herbs can be planted to optimize space.  As a garden designer, Radina takes care to combine vegetables and flowers to have maximum visual impact.

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Vancouver Hip Hop: More than Music

HipHopYouth (18 of 23)

B-boys take turns practicing their skills. Photo by Carm Kwan.

Classics from the golden era of 90s hip hop blast as the facilitators set up for the weekly Hip Hop Youth Drop-In at the Roundhouse. At the entrance, dozens of donated ham and cheese sandwiches in saran wrap are stacked beside the Hip Hop Declaration of Peace and a sign-up sheet. Vancouver Hip Hop Artist and Facilitator Gurl Two Three welcomes me in the room as she sets up a table with sheets of newsprint, bags of markers, and binders of lettering instructions. In the corner, Kia Kadiri sets up the sound system while the middle floor is clear, awaiting the arrival of the attendees.

All four elements of the hip hop culture are covered in this drop-in program: MC, graffiti (or aerosol art), b-boying, and turntablism.

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© 2014 Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. The Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre is jointly operated by the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Society. Website by Hey Shauna
181 Roundhouse Mews (Davie & Pacific), Vancouver, V6Z 2W3
Telephone: 604-713-1800  |  Fax: 604-713-1813