RoundHouse Blog

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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Music That Sounds Like Vancouver Looks


From L to R: Rup Sidhu, Mohamed Assani, Rajasthan Josh
Photo: Indian Summer Festival

Through travelling and picking up cultural influences, artists are leaving behind the taste of their intercultural music and exploring the world. As music continues to cross boundaries, creative collaborations between musicians are finding a space of their own in Vancouver too.

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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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