Honouring Women: Inspiring and Encouraging

2014 Remarkable Women poster

2014 Remarkable Women poster

There are lots of interesting and accomplished girls and women. Some are well-known, others you may never have encountered. But their stories — in fact or in fiction — make good reading around International Women’s Day, and all year long!

The Vancouver Park Board has established the Remarkable Women poster series, which highlights the important roles women play in our communities and honours them. The theme of this year’s poster series is embracing reconciliation and seeking to heal from the past to build new relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and all Vancouverites. Twelve women were selected for this Year of Reconciliation from over 100 nominations. Read here to learn more about their stories of accomplishment.

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Mastering your Dance Steps


Cadenza – Die Stadt im Klavier V. Choreography and Performance: Yui Kawaguchi. Composition and Performance: Aki Takase. At the Vancouver International Dance Festival, 2014. Photo courtesy VIDF.

Many of you know that dance has been a passion of mine since I was very young of age. I have learnt ballet, three out of nine Indian classical styles, modern Indian dance, bhangra, salsa, belly dancing, free style, waltz, garba, and some other self-taught steps (hip-hop and our traditional Ismaili dance of dandia and rasra). For me dancing is pure joy and bliss, only because I’m lost in my element. Anyone who knows me well; can attest to my love and passion for the art of dance- not only that, but when we have our celebratory functions I’m the first one on the dance floor and the last to leave.

I’m very excited for the month of March as the Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) takes place around Vancouver with many performances happening at the Roundhouse between the 23rd and 29th of March. Eight out of ten performances will be performed at the Roundhouse.

As it is a dance festival, many different dance forms and performances will be available for you to enjoy. I’m going to briefly mention a few of the performances that spoke to me.

Modus Operandi- Structure tone is a modern contemporary dance piece which encompasses theatrics, making this number entertaining and piquing one’s curiosity for a fresh exploration of contemporary dance. The founders of Modus Operandi David Raymond and Tiffany Tregarthen designed the program to be a training initiative of Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, welcoming emerging contemporary dancers with diverse backgrounds and experience.

Kokoro Dance is known as the dance of the walking dead. Usually, the performers have nothing on but white body paint. These performances are unpredictable, unique, and present in the moment. Due to the nature of the performance, it is very raw and interactive in diverse settings. I commend these performers, as performing in the nude takes a lot of guts and inner self-confidence; not only are they trusting of their peers for not saying anything but also trusting of their audience. For me, it would almost be a distraction and also I would feel uncomfortable due to my conservative upbringing.

Michael Sakamoto & Rennie Harris –Flash is a musical conversation between two individuals who are using dance as their medium. They have utilized robotics and krumping which is a form of hip hop. These are two very different dance forms but have found a way to come together and tell a story. Any combination of two dance forms poses a challenge to the choreographer, but the approach here has been an innovative and philosophical transformation.

Dancers Dancing –The Fine Line ~ twisted angels is a contemporary ballet piece depicting how we perceive our internal and external worlds. A lot of times we as individuals are afraid to disclose our journey through life for the risk of it being dark and deep and fearing that we will be judged based on the journey. This piece has done just that, bringing our journey to light and placing a positive spin on what we thought was taboo.

What are your favourite types of dance forms? What performance really speaks to you?


By Fatima Sumar, Roundhouse Blog Team. Fatima is a creative and passionate individual always up for a new challenge whether it be through exploring her passion for writing, or running her own businesses QueenoHearts Planners Ltd (a wedding consulting business) and fantabulous DeZigns Jewellery By Fatima Sumar (designing and creating jewellery). She is also a social media enthusiast and is committed to increasing the Roundhouse’s online reach, and increasing their ROI (return on investment) on different platforms.

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The railway and the history

Bill Johnston, the volunteer in charge of the Engine 374 Pavilion; in his back, the logo of CPR showing the beaver, one of the symbols of Canada. Photo by Glauce Fleury.

Bill Johnston, the volunteer in charge of the Engine 374 Pavilion; at his back, the logo of CPR showing the beaver, one of the symbols of Canada. Photo by Glauce Fleury.

Engine 374 is a landmark in our history. Not only did it pull the first Canadian transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver, but also contributed to keeping  British Columbia a part of Canada. Writing about its anniversary was my first assignment for this blog. But after interviewing William Johnston, director of the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and the volunteer in charge of the Engine 374 Pavilion, I had in my hands an amazing series about the railway.

“I’m a bit of a history buff, so it’s a natural thing for me,” says Johnston. In the pavilion, he has met some railway fans who are experts on everything. “They look at the logo of CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) and say, ‘that was never on this locomotive in 1886. Why have you got it there?’” They’re right. It was placed there later in recognition of CPR’s financial aid to restore the Engine. “It’s also interpretive [because] it shows the beaver as part of the symbol of our country.”

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Embracing Change with Michele Mateus


Michele Mateus’ bright smile lights up the office.

Roundhouse volunteer coordinator, Michele Mateus, has big news. She and husband, Don, are expecting their first child in May 2014. So before Mateus packs up her office and bids adieu to the Roundhouse to begin her one-year maternity leave, she leaves us with a snapshot of what her job entails and why she’s so passionate about volunteerism.

JS: Why do you think volunteering is important?

MM: More and more our society seems disconnected and busy, and we do not make time for ourselves, or our neighbours. We complain about Vancouver being a hard place to meet friends, and loneliness seems to be a key factor in peoples’ experience here in Metro Vancouver. For me, volunteerism seems to be an important way to combat these concerns. We can create time and space in our lives for something that is meaningful.

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More Than Just Clay: Claymation

Photo credit: Clarissa Peterson, via Flickr creative commons

Clay figures come alive when animated in film. Photo credit: Clarissa Peterson, via Flickr Creative Commons

Bring out that smarty pants in you and add wings to your imagination, make the oranges jump and the books walk. Commonly we think most animated movies are made using powerful computers. With so many innovative forms of animation and computer technology being used to create films, adverts and TV shows, some might believe that “old favourites” – like Claymation – are a thing of the past. But interestingly enough, some of the traditional forms of animation are making a comeback.

In my school days, I used to play with clay and enjoyed clay modelling classes. Recently, I learned that clay has a uniquely therapeutic quality that settles and calms children; it retains their attention for hours. Here is an interesting article that highlights the benefits of playing with clay.

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Embracing Dance at the Talking Stick Festival


“Convergence: Currents of Contemporary Aboriginal Dance II” brings two main currents of contemporary aboriginal dance together, one more deeply rooted in ancient dance practices and the other more firmly grounded in contemporary dance. Photo by Mike Strong, 2007.

Being a creative soul and a dancer, I never paid much attention to dance forms that I did not understand, or if I found their music to be very calm. I was always attracted to high energy dance moves, as they make you feel alive and have the urge to dance, but as I have matured I have realized that there is a lot more to dance than meets the eye.

What I have gathered is their passion for what they do and how connected our First Nations are to the divine.

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Get inspired in the drop-in art studio


In the drop-in art studio, the artists can work on painting and drawing, and make a mess. Photo by Emad Alghamdi via Flickr

Are you an artist but don’t have your own space to work on your creations? The Guided Open Art Studio, a pilot project implemented by the Roundhouse in the fall of 2013, could suit your needs. The space is basic—large tables, chairs, some easels and two sinks—but there you can refine your skills and explore new ideas while you work in a supportive setting.

“There are lots of people in the community who have taken art classes at the Roundhouse and don’t have anywhere to continue making art on their own,” says the art instructor of the community centre, Ian Forbes, who holds an MFA in Painting from the University of Alberta and is there to facilitate, advise and demonstrate. The initiative—not an art class, but an art space—encourages artists to drop-in. The main benefit is to have people inspired to make art and interact with each other.

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Staying the Course with Kathryn Sweetapple


A very proud mother, Kathryn brightens up her office with her daughter’s imaginative, colourful artwork.

It’s no accident that the Roundhouse (RH) offers a unique array of fantastic social and recreational programming. That’s because Recreation Programmer, Kathryn Sweetapple, who has been employed at the RH for seven years, carefully selects the courses that best reflect this community centre’s diverse clientele.

My passion for recreation and being active brought me to want to help others become active through different avenues of recreation.

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Performance Art – Talent and Imagination

Photo by eloise 'stargazer' brown

PuSh Performing Arts Festival presents “Presence of Monster”. Photo by eloise ‘stargazer’ brown via Flickr

We all live in an entertainment culture. It’s time to take you into the world of enigmatic entertainment. The biggest example of it is life. We don’t know what will happen in the next moment, but we sense and foresee things with our strong imaginations.

Imagination is all the infinite possibilities in reality.

Imagine yourself locked up in a room and the only information you have is that there might be a monster around you. How would you feel? Well, performance art can make you feel that.

Imagination is all the infinite possibilities in reality. Combining this magic of imagination and arts makes one explore the breathtaking performances that depict the mystified story, and is a real treat for the eyes.

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Move to the sensual rhythm of Soukouss


Jacky Essombe dances the night away. Photo by David Cowan

Ladies, looking for a way to have a girls’ day full of excitement?

Dance comes to me naturally, as I enjoy the freedom of self-awareness and self-expression brought on by letting go when in trance of the moment. Endorphins are realised when dancing, therefore, providing a natural high to life full of enjoyment and reducing stress. In fact, at a conference delivered by Dr. Amen on a healthy brain, he mentioned how the best exercise for the brain is dancing (point #10 in the article).

For me, Soukouss is not only a dance form, but is an African dance, close to my heart because my ancestors migrated to Africa from India. I visited Africa several times when I was younger and saw many performances on the streets, but never really had an appreciation until I understood the art behind dancing.

Dancing is a way of life in Africa.

Soukouss originated in Congo, which is in central Africa, and is a way of life in Africa. Today, Soukouss has become the mainstream dance form of Africa and can be found in night clubs and house parties. Back in Congo, both men and women dance to Soukouss but here in the west, mainly females dance to Soukouss because it is a very sensual dance and men may not be as comfortable with the movements.

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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
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