2015 Chutzpah! Festival Vancouver

The International Chutzpah Festival Vancouver

In Arts, Newsby Laura

chutzpah festival Mary-Louise Albert, Artistic Managing Director

chutzpah festival Mary-Louise Albert, Artistic Managing Director

The Chutzpah Festival of Music, Dance, Theatre & Comedy Is A Global Mash-Up of Entertainment and Innovation.

Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival from February 19th to March 15th,  Artistic and Managing Director, Mary-Louise Albert (with 11 under her helm,) is like a mother who loves all her children equally. So when asked, it’s impossible to pick favourites.

“One of the things I like to take a chance on are World Premieres,“ admits the impassioned former professional dancer who won the national Eric Bruhn Memorial Award from the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, to attend British Columbia’s School of Business at BCIT. “It’s an important aspect of all our programming.

Sitting in the lobby of the Chutzpah Festival’s Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre, Albert is understandably excited about the upcoming performances.  “I’ve watched Tel Aviv’s Maria Kong over the past four years and I knew we had to get their North American Premiere of BACKSTAGE.” Surrounded by the audience, the close quarters give the dancers a gladiatorial type of unpredictable energy, and with the addition of a live rock band and interactive technology, it’s an immersive experience for all the senses.

Shay Kuebler Radical System Art, Chutzpah Festival! Resident Dance Company. Photo: David Cooper

Shay Kuebler Radical System Art, Chutzpah Festival! Resident Dance Company. Photo: David Cooper

Vancouver’s multi-faceted award-winning choreographer/dancer and Chutzpah Resident Dance Company, Shay Kuebler Radical System Art, co-founder of the 605 Collective, will present the World Premiere of Glory.


Los Angelas dance troupe, BODYTRAFFIC returns with four Canadian Premieres. Photo: Tomasz Rossa

BODYTRAFFIC from Los Angeles, returns to the Chutzpah Festival with four Canadian Premieres by renowned choreographers Kyle Abraham, Victor Quijada, Joshua L.Peugh and Richard Siegal.

“I’ve really tried to develop relationships with all the artists over the years and we’re thrilled to welcome back Israel’s Idan Sharabi & Dancers,” says Albert. (Vancouver’s own Vanessa Goodman opening.)

Having travelled to international festivals and conferences in Israel, Poland, Holland, England and Austria on a shoestring budget, Albert likes to mix it up and has invited artists who really push the boundaries. Like Zvuloon Dub System, Israel’s top reggae band. It’s a multicultural 8-piece band, infusing their performances with Ethiopian jazz, American soul, funk and Israeli mizrahi music. The very hip Brooklyn-based Twin Wave opens on the same bill.


Israel’s top reggae band, Zvuloon Dub System fuses Ethiopian jazz, rare grooves from the 70s with American funk and soul. photo: Noam Chojnowski

“We really aim for a multicultural Festival under a Jewish umbrella,” explains Albert. Berlin’s Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird’s ‘Alienation Klezmer’ punk/folk cabaret; France’s Les Yeux Noir’s Gypsy and Eastern European music to the Jewish/Muslim/Arab and Beduin performers that compose Diwan Saz are just a few examples“I also believe that artists should be seen as independent from their countries’ political leadership, says Albert emphatically. ”

Chutzpah’s comedy and theatre line-up includes You’re Funny, But You Don’t Look Jewish featuring three hilarious South-Asian, Italian and Vietnamese American-Jewish comedians and the North American debut of Aharona Israel’s theatre-in-the-round’s  Marathon, a Sisyphesan Theatre productiona metaphor on Israeli lifestyle.

Albert is particularly delighted to introduce First Nations Namgis T’sasala Cultural Group bringing Kwakwaka’wakw dances from Alert Bay. Featuring spectacular masks and costumes, the group represents the rebirth of an ancient art form that was nearly lost when the Canadian Government banned Potlach ceremonies and traditional dance between 1885 and 1951.

With a small home on Malcolm Island, just a short ferry commute for her to Alert Bay located on Comorant Island, British Columbia, Albert has organized a dance residency and workshops with First Nations. In July, Shay Kuebler will travel to the region to perform.

Says Albert, “With over 100 performers in six Vancouver venues, the 15th Anniversary Chutzpah Festival really offers something for everyone.”