Back for the 22nd year since its launch in 2001, the Lisa Nemetz Festival of International Jewish Performing Arts – better known as the Chutzpah! Festival – will return to Vancouver from Nov. 2–23 this year.
Like every year, the Chutzpah! Festival will gather storytellers, dancers, musicians, actors and comedians together to engage audiences across the Lower Mainland in a rich diversity of cultural events inspired by the Jewish heritage.
In their organizers’ own words, the festival seeks to “enhance the cultural life of both the Jewish and general communities”. Their website outlines the multi-faceted intent of the decades-old community-focused initiative.
“Our commitment is to presenting, producing, and promoting professional and innovative community-based programming that: (1) Supports both established and emerging artists; (2) Entertains, inspires, educates, and enriches its audiences; and (3) Promotes communication and understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish communities.”
The promise of laughter
This year’s festival will begin with a CBC Radio-style ‘comedy debate’ between award-winning Canadian comics Jacob Samuel and Charles Demers,moderated by fellow humorist Kate Davis. In front of a live audience – who will ultimately select a winner – Samuel and Demers will debate on the night’s topic: The Ten Commandments. Holy Moses is it time for some new ones?
On November 23, the Chutzpah! Festival will leave its audiences laughing with its final event, ‘The Best of Israeli Comedy’. The closing night special will be curated by Israeli comic Benji Lovitt and hosted by Vancouver-native, Kyle Berger. It will also feature Israeli comics including Yossi Tarablus, Dana Perry Segal, and Deborah Kay.
But that’s not all.
The Chutzpah! Festival promises more than just humor and welcomes all to join local and international artists in their artistic exploration of topics pertinent in the Jewish community, and society at large.
To open the musical events, the Chutzpah! Festival brings Michael Winograd and The Honorable Mentshn to the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre on November 4. The renowned clarinetist and band will be bringing tunes that will resonate with audiences of all ages with a set embracing music “from the 1950s Borsht Belt to 2020s nightclubs and back again” according to the festival’s website. Michael Winograd and The Honorable Mentshn will return the following day, this time at Wosk Auditorium accompanied by dancer Avia Moore to present the Chutzpah! Festival’s all-ages dance party. There, participants will explore and engage in Klezmer and Yiddish dance.
Back at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre, musical artist Nani Noam Vazana will take the stage on November 11th to share her unique blending of contemporary music styles with the endangered language, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish; a blend of pre-16th century Spanish and Hebrew). Vanzana joins the Chutzpah! Festival after a year of performances across the world: In 2023, Vanzana brought her music to cities including Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Kansas City, Tapei, and soon, Vancouver.
On November 19 at Wosk Auditiorium, the Chutzpah! Festival will host DWELL – a new production by Vancouver’s All Body Dance Project.
Produced in collaboration with the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s Inclusion Program, DWELL is a dance-focused exploration on the meanings of ‘home’ from its most intimate definitions to its broadest ones.
“[It’s] a big theme that many people have made art about” explains Naomi Brand, co-founder and Artistic Director of the ABDP.
“The sticky key in the front door, the floor that creaks, or the saggy sofa. And, of course, zooming out to other themes going on in the world right now about where is home and where is safety, where we belong, and whose land are we on… like any good piece of art, it can be both universal and specific at the same time.”
Though at the core of their newest piece, the question of belonging is neither new to Brand, nor to the All Bodies Dance Project.
Created in 2014, ABDP is an inclusive dance company with a mission “to create opportunities for people of all abilities, genders, sizes, and backgrounds to practice, research, and create innovative, inclusive dance”, according to their website. To date, the dance company has produced six full-length productions and various dance films. Across all aspects of their work – be it their classes, productions and films – the ABDP is a space for all dancers of all abilities to call home.
“I went to my first [ABDP] class eight years ago, and it was the first time I had ever been in a room that was truly inclusive, professional dancers, community dancers, wheelchair users, non-wheelchair users, folks with cognitive disabilities, neurotypical folks… everybody in the same space” says writer and dancer Adam Grant Warren, who now serves as an Artistic Associate at ABDP.
Through DWELL, Warren hopes to expand participants’ perspectives on the art in themselves and the things around them.
For more information on the DWELL, please visit:
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