US-Mexican politics feature at the 15th PuSh International Performing Arts Festival

An eclectic bunch of artists will hit up Vancouver, Canada from 17 January to 3 February for the annual PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. The 15th anniversary edition features 26 works from 24 companies, six of which are world premieres and 11 of which are Canadian premieres. Productions hail from 13 countries as far ranging as Guatemala, Australia, Japan, France, the UK, Mexico, Canada and the US. The PuSh Film Series will pair screenings to the festival programme.

“We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” said Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s interim executive director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

Attractor by Dancenorth Australia. Photos © Gregory Lorenzutti
Attractor by Dancenorth Australia. Photos © Gregory Lorenzutti

Joyce Rosario, interim artistic director of PuSh Festival, added: “Our programming ignites important, meaningful discussions about the world around us and is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. The 15th anniversary holds personal significance to me. Not only does it mark the final iteration guided by the vision of Norman Armour, PuSh’s co-founder and former artistic and executive director, but it’s also the sixth shaped by our collaboration together as a curatorial team.

“This year’s festival is the result of many such partnerships, amongst the intrepid team at PuSh and with our presentation partners — some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In 2019, we bring audiences face-to-face with a broad range of thought-provoking works that subvert the dominant narrative by changing whose perspectives are centred.”

The six world premiere performances will be presented by contemporary dance organisation Company 605; boundary-breaking dance company MACHiNENOiSY; composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea; Dora Award-winning dub poet and actor D’BI; the performers of Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons; and Guatemalan performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

Making Canadian premieres are a suite of three sound-based works from Japan by ASUNA, Marginal Consort, and Tetsuya Umeda; Dancenorth Australia featuring music from Indonesian band Senyawa; and a piece from Taiwanese choreographer Liu Kuan-Hsiang.

Tackling contemporary political issues head-on, the US-Mexico border debate is examined with Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance, an avant-garde bilingual chamber opera that draws on the life of the Mexican revolutionary José Doroteo Arango Arámbula “Pancho Villa” and explores issues of borders. Pancho Villa features pre-recorded and live video projections that examine the Mexican and Mexican-American impact on West Texas politics and culture. Composed by Graham Reynolds, with libretto by Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol, it is the final installation of The Marfa Triptych, a series of three musical portraits by Reynolds commissioned by Ballroom Marfa.

“I saw this work at Austin’s Fusebox Festival in 2017, not long after Trump was inaugurated and attempting to follow through on his promise to build a wall. Experiencing the power of this piece, I was immediately struck and reminded how connected we are despite being on this side of the border,” said Rosario.

The PuSh Assembly strand will host free talks for the public and industry networking events. New for the 2019 season is Club PuSh for edgy, avant-garde and experimental works as well as the opening and closing parties.