National Dance Week

On April 25, 2012, in News, by George Sipos

All this week – April 22-29, 2012 – Canada celebrates National Dance Week. The goal is to heighten awareness of the importance and pleasure of dance in all its forms in our lives, both as audiences and as participants. Here is a link to the Canada Dance Assembly’s description of the event on their website:

Here on Salt Spring, our dance outreach co-ordinator, Anna Haltrecht, has created a special website calendar that lists all dance-related activities on Salt Spring, including ArtSpring’s planned dance performances in our 2012-13 season. Check it out at:

Feel free to contact Anna via her website for any questions or ideas you may have about getting involved in dance in our community. She’s really approachable and eager to promote dance in whatever ways she can.


Paula Kiffner’s 2 cello & piano concert

On April 24, 2012, in News, by George Sipos

by Paula Kiffner

So many people have said to me that the cello is their favorite instrument. Certainly it is my favorite instrument. But what draws people to the sound of the cello? I think it is the human quality of its range. The cello covers almost the entire range of the human voice, and possesses a warm singing quality.

This wide range from bass to soprano lends itself to the creation of works for multiple cellos – something that cellists (a naturally gregarious lot) greatly appreciate. You may be familiar with recordings by the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic cello section, or the performances by 100 cellists of Pablo Casals’ “Song of The Birds”.

On Sunday, May 6th, at 2:30 PM at Artspring, Pamela Highbaugh-Aloni, cellist of the Lafayette String Quartet, and I, along with pianist Jamie Syer, the former Dean of the Victoria Conservatory, will present a program of works for two cellos and piano. Some of the works to be performed are transcriptions and some were written originally for this combination. I’ve even included two arrangements I made of well-known opera arias.

Pamela, Jamie and I have known and worked with each other for several years, and this program has given us the opportunity to learn some unusual and very interesting repertoire spanning the Baroque to Modern eras, from Handel to Bartok, including ultra-romantic duets by the Russian composer Reinhold Glière.

Please join us at 2:30 PM at Artspring on Sunday, May 6th. The concert is preceded by a winetasting at 1:30 PM featuring wines of the Garry Oaks Vineyard.


Prize Winning Dance for 2013

On April 18, 2012, in News, by George Sipos

Dance Current magazine reports that the Montréal company Bouge de là received the Prix RIDEAU Touring Award for its work L’atelier/The Studio, during the Bourse RIDEAU gala on February 16th.

Salt Spring audiences may remember Bouge de là as the company that brought us the charming dance/theatre production Old Thomas and the Little Fairy last season.

The award distinguishes an arts company for successful audience development and promotional activities throughout the tour of one of its shows. L’atelier/The Studio combines dance with visual art, and has been acclaimed by more than 105 audiences across Québec and Toronto.

I am pleased to announce that ArtSpring has booked L’atelier/The Studio for March 5, 2013. This truly wonderful show, which will appeal to both adult audiences and to children, will be included in our Dance subscription series. Tickets will go on sale in August.


Continuous Thinking

On April 2, 2012, in News, by George Sipos

Interesting article in the March 31 Globe& Mail by Ian Brown about the importance of marginalia in historical books. Interesting anyway if you happen to love old books, or love history. The article quotes a noteworthy comment from Dr Scott Schofield, a librarian at the University of Toronto, that has relevance for what we do at ArtSpring.

Dr Schofield describes the shortcomings of electronic tablets over traditional books as follows:

“The materiality of the book is what’s missing. An ornamental letter on a page, or side notes and symbols, for instance – what do they do for the reading process? It turns out they may help with memory retention, and with continuous thinking.”

What catches my attention here is the phrase “continuous thinking.” This expression touches on the essence of what reading is about – not just the retrieval of useful information, but the unfolding and pursuit of continuous trains of thought. Google, god bless it, gives us easy answers to questions, but only reading teaches us to think.

And so it is similarly with live performance. Substitute the word “attention” for “thinking” and we have a close analogy. What a live performance, whether of music or dance or theatre, offers that electronic media do not is opportunities for “continuous attention” not only to the substance of the performance, but also to ourselves and to our relationship to what we see on the stage.

When a pianist plays Liszt in our theatre, or dancers move their bodies in the presence of our own bodies, or when actors speak in the same physical space we inhabit with them, we become not just consumers of information but active participants in the unfolding of specific narratives of what it means to be human.

This is why it is so crucial to present live performance in the arts: to offer opportunities for thought, attention and feeling in real, human time, and thus to hold out alternative ways of understanding the world to the ubiquitousness of mere information.