I Dally with Dance

7 July 2017 – But first,  I Dalí with dance.

As in Salvador; as in Dance of Time I.

I’m not even a Salvador Dalí enthusiast, and have seen more soft-clock iterations over the decades than I care to think about … but, still … there is something arresting about this whopping (390 kg, 213 cm high) bronze sculpture smack downtown near Howe & West Pender.

And I am quite charmed when I read the plaque. First, it’s the real thing, not a knock-off: one of an edition of eight (+ six proofs) first cast in 1984. Second, it is well-travelled: it has already been exhibited in such cities as Paris, Shanghai, Singapore, Mexico City, Venice & Taipei. Third, the Chali-Rosso Art Gallery here in Vancouver has arranged for it to be on display in this city for 150 days, to celebrate Canada’s 150 years of nationhood.

So that’s all good, and anyway (fourth…), I’m always in favour of public art.

Which explains my delight just a day later, when I’m again scurrying through downtown, this time to dally with dance.

It’s opening night of the 29th annual Dancing on the Edge festival, a performance by the Beijing Modern Dance Company of their work, Oath-Midnight Rain.

I cut through the alley just south of West Hastings off Granville … and look! It’s public art! Even better: alley art!

Vancouver-style.

I’d seen this alley once before, during my winter visit, but had forgotten where it was located. Now, in summer warmth, I can linger comfortably.

I’m not the only one lingering, or the only one with a camera, either — but the rest are more into selfies & each-other shots.

Are you following the dynamics here? Yellow Shirt Guy is taking a picture of White Shirt Guy … who is too busy watching those young women to mug for the camera.

But the young women are oblivious to his interest …

because they are too busy checking their own photos.

This is good! It shows that Alley Oop is doing what it is supposed to do: turn an ugly, strictly utilitarian, unpleasant alley into a place that welcomes people, and encourages them to use it, and have fun in the process.

Thank the DVBIA (Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association) for the idea & the funding; thank HCMA Architecture + Design for the transformation.

This one opened in September 2016, apparently two more are planned.

Before the project, this alley averaged 30 people per hour; now, 73. Before, 6 vehicles; now, down to three. Before, mostly men walked through here; now, the gender split is pretty well even.

Not the kind of alley art I’m used to, and that’s just fine, too. What’s the point of going somewhere else, if you want it to be exactly like the place you left?

I check my watch, realize I better copy this fast-moving couple …

and get on with my own Dance of Time.

Time to meet Sally, have a quick pub supper, and head for the Firehall.

As in, the Firehall Arts Centre, which was Vancouver’s first firehall when it opened in 1906 and stayed in use until the mid-1970s, but has been repurposed as an arts centre since 1982.

We dally on the patio for a moment, with its bright picnic tables and end-wall mural …

and then move inside for the performance.

Oath-Midnight Rain is really, really good. (Photo from Dancing on the Edge website.)

To keep something like this going for 29 years? And to have this level of quality?

Bravo, Donna Spencer and team.

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Larry Webb

     /  7 July 2017

    Hi Penny.

    Your sympatico address didn’t work so I had to reply to your today’s blog!

    Remember me!? One of your big fans from Toronto now enjoying your escapes of further afield.

    So I am planning a cross country trip in August and have the intention of ending up in Vancouver – haven’t got that far in planning yet! But I thought it would be cool in say my one day in Vancouver (maybe there would be more) to see if it was possible to join you on a Walking Woman walk – I would see Vancouver through different eyes!

    So I’m just testing the waters at the moment – this would be right at the end of August.

    Possible or no!?

    Anyway thanks for the continued blog – I read it without fail as soon as it comes into my Inbox.

    Hope Vancouver is all you hoped it would be.

    Best, L

    Larry Webb

    larw18@webbpro.ca

    (416) 508-1291

    Reply
  2. How fun! I love the clock sculpture, and the fact that it has traveled to so many places is wonderful. The alley art is right up my alley, literally! I really enjoy when cities turn utilitarian spaces into something more enjoyable through the use of art.

    Reply
    • Yes (making utilitarian spaces fun as well), this is why I’m such a fan of the Bell-Tel painted boxes in Toronto, the traffic signal boxes, the expressway/railway underpass artwork, etc…

      Reply
  3. Cheers to public art! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Incredible colours in that alley, and flooral as well as mural. Something very special. I’m interested too in the gender analysis of walkers-through, and envious of the dance. I very much enjoyed your script for the alley-photographers, and the history of the Dali, especially 150 days for 150 years. As always a very diverse post.

    Reply
  5. Mary C

     /  11 July 2017

    Alley oop is wonderful!

    Reply

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