Culture: Jann Arden, Calendar Girls, Shen Yun

An East-West fusion orchestra, Cuban dancers and a famous French hunchback: February brings the world to Vancouver. Dance // Shen Yun Performing Arts

Shen Yun performing arts | BCBusiness
Shen Yun Performing Arts.

An East-West fusion orchestra, Cuban dancers and a famous French hunchback: February brings the world to Vancouver.

Dance // Shen Yun Performing Arts

Established in 2006, the Shen Yun Performing Arts dance company is based in New York but its real focus is a little farther east. A classical Chinese dance performance, Shen Yun Performing Arts’ tagline is “reviving five thousand years of civilization.” It’s a lofty goal, but the two-and-a-half-hour show promises to do just that, featuring a collection of short performances that spans the geography, culture and history of China. Each year the show takes its entirely new lineup of performances all over the globe in the hopes of reviving the Chinese culture that has been buried after years of Communist rule. Filled with ornate costumes, digital backdrops and an orchestra that combines classical Chinese and western instruments, Shen Yun is a stunning east-meets-west experience that is unparalleled in its scope and beauty. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 3-5. shenyunper

Music // Jann Arden

Jann Arden
Donald Weber/Getty

No stranger to Vancouver, Jann Arden sang the national anthem for last fall’s Grey Cup at the newly renovated B.C. Place. The Canadian singer and songwriter is coming back to the west coast this month in support of her newly released album, Uncover Me 2. Her 11th in a string of highly acclaimed records, Uncover Me 2 is her first album of covers, including 10 songs originally sung by artists such as The Smiths, Doris Day and Fleetwood Mac, and one new original track. Although Arden, 49, has been performing since she was 14, her big break didn’t come until 1993 with her national debut album Time for Mercy. Since then she’s been a staple on the Canadian music scene, earning an impressive eight Juno awards as well as 17 top 10 singles, her biggest to date being the 1994 international hit, “Insensitive.” If you have yet to experience this powerful yet sultry singer, head to the Orpheum, where Arden will surely make a fan out of you. The Orpheum, February 21.

Theatre // Calendar Girls

Calendar Girls

Coming to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver, Calendar Girls plays a one-month run beginning January 26. You may recall the play’s name from the 2003 movie staring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters, for which Mirren won a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Much like the Hollywood film, this play is based on the true story of a group of English women who produced and posed in a nude calendar to support leukemia research after one woman’s husband died of cancer. Despite the depressing start, the story is upbeat, inspirational and most importantly, laugh-out-loud funny. The Arts Club’s production of Tom Firth’s Calendar Girls is the perfect antidote to the mid-winter blahs. Just remember, for those not on stage clothing isn’t optional. Arts Club, Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, January 26 to February 26.

Theatre // Catalyst Theatre’s Hunchback

The same company that brought Vancouver Frankenstein in 2007 (a production that went on to win eight Elizabeth Sterling Hayes Awards, including Outstanding New Play) is at it again, this time bringing its signature touch to Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Anyone looking for a Disney-like telling of Hugo’s classic novel would be better off staying in with the cartoon version. Catalyst’s production is layered with sinister moods and imagery where themes of love, lust, fear and obsession all play out against an eerily gothic backdrop that only Paris’s Notre Dame can provide. A darkly romantic musical, Hunchback tells the story of a tormented priest, a beautiful dancer, and the deformed church-bell ringer, Quasimodo, and the doomed love that encircles these three characters. Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, February 18 to March 10. vancouverplay

Dance // National Ballet of Cuba

Doug Gifford/Getty

The National Ballet of Cuba makes its first appearance in Vancouver, bringing its world-renowned production of Don Quixote. Based on the 400-year-old Spanish novel Don Quixote de la Mancha, this ballet dates back to 1869, when it was first shown in Moscow. Rarely performed because of its technical difficulty, Don Quixote is the story of the most famous son of La Mancha, the arid plateau region of Central Spain. This production of Don Quixote, choreographed by Prima Ballerina Assoluta Alicia Alonso, blends the story with the beauty of the Cuban dancers to create a passionate show, which has already been enjoyed the world over (the production has played in Paris, London and New York). With only four performances slotted for its three-day run, tickets will be hot commodities for anyone looking to impress their culturally minded Valentine. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, February 16-18.