Veda Hille Launches Love Waves at the York Theatre on May 28!

veda_hille_love_waves (1)Fresh from creating and performing in the homegrown hit musical Onegin, our favourite Vhine Und Szong  and East Van Panto songstress is back to celebrate the release of her new album: Love Waves.

We were lucky enough to chat with Veda about her album and upcoming concert!

Hi Veda! Many Cultch audience members were first introduced to your work and style through the clever musical mash-ups that characterize The East Van Panto. You are also well known in Vancouver for productions such as Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata and Onegin. Would you say that your work in the theatre has influenced this album?

Veda Hille: I have loved becoming part of Vancouver’s theatre scene over the last 10 years. I do think that work has influenced my personal songwriting. I have way more vocal things going on in the songs, and I often take on characters in a way that I never did before. For example, in Eurydice I sing the parts of both Orpheus and Eurydice. I also took more time with this album; in theatre you often work on a show for 3 years or more before it is ready. I decided to try that with Love Waves, and I think the album benefited from a really long slow process.

What can long-time fans of your music expect from this album? Are there any new elements that you were particularly excited to explore?
VH: I wrote these songs with producer John Collins in mind. He’s great on synths and beats and all these pop elements, and so I wrote songs that would work with that kind of treatment. I would say that the production feels like a pretty new kind of sound for me, but I think the songs at their core are still in the realm that I’ve inhabited all my life.

Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the title of this album?
VH: Love Waves are a certain kind of seismic activity, discovered by the scientist Arthur Love. They ripple sideways through the ground, and are really good at knocking down buildings. I couldn’t resist that name, of course.

You have credited a number of artistic influences ranging from Bowie to Eno to The Carpenters to Eisler and Brecht. I have to ask – which artists are you currently listening to?
VH: I always love that question. It is what I ask other people all the time. I move pretty slowly on albums. Right now the ones I turn to most are Bowie’s Blackstar, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and Sufjan Steven’s Carrie and Lowell.

Anything else you would like to share about this album or the concert at The York on May 28?
VH: I’m so excited about this show. The band is sounding great. I feel like I haven’t done a major concert in Vancouver in years; maybe that’s true. I keep doing all these other things! Which are also fun, but still. I am very keen to have the chance to be deeply and happily myself onstage with so many friends around.

Want a sneak peek of Veda’s fabulous new album?
Check out this review by Andrea Warner for CBC music
Keep up-to-date with the latest news on Veda Hille’s website
Love Waves: Veda Hille Album Release Concert
May 28, 2016 at 8PM
York Theatre
19+ Event

Wondering what to see at the 2016 rEvolver Festival?

Opening this week, the fourth annual rEvolver Theatre Festival will offer 11 days of performances from multi-disciplined theatre artists currently breaking on the local and national scene. All events will be held at The Cultch from May 11 to 22. If you are wondering what to see, here’s a few hints and tips to stoke your interest…..

Diversity:

Not only is the festival focused on providing a platform for emerging artists, this year’s line-up reflects the exciting diversity in our theatre community:

  • Seven shows have been created or directed by women: Beowulf, Charisma Furs, Happiness™, Kolejka, I Want to Tell You Something, Never the Last, and Silenced.
  • Seven shows have been created by or with artists of colour in a significant leadership role: Beowulf, Booth Connection, Mis Papás, Never the Last, The New Conformity, odd., and Silenced.
  • The festival continues its history of supporting innovative work by artists from the LGBTQ community (having premiered shows such as Tucked and Plucked: Vancouver’s HERstory Live on Stage and Cocktales with Maria) with Charisma Furs, by Toronto artist Katie Sly.

Award winning performances:

Two critically acclaimed shows will be presented in the Cultch’s Culture Lab, both wielding a wildly comedic approach to intelligent social commentary:

  • Happiness™, by Ottawa-based May Can Theatre, was nominated for four 2015 Prix Rideau Awards for Outstanding Direction, Lighting Design, Performance and Production.
  • Cause & Effects Circus’ The New Conformity received the Joanna Murata Award in 2015 (Vancouver Fringe Festival) and took home Victoria’s Pick of the Fringe Award in 2014.

The same but different….

Two distinct one woman shows in the Founders’ Lounge—I Want to Tell You Something and Charisma Furs—are equally intimate and engaging, and both incorporate origami lessons. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different….

A little Eastern European Culture
There are two music-heavy shows with European backdrops—puppetry, physical theatre and punk music combine to tell the story of a Babushka’s Soviet Russia in Kolejka,  and Never the Last, the latest from Delinquent Theatre, creators of Stationary: A Recession Era Musical  tells the true story of the early centry composer Sophie Carmen Friedman using live classical music, movement and text.

FESTIVAL BOX OFFICE INFORMATION:
Full Tickets: $17 ($20 with service charges) | Self Identified Low Income Tickets: $12 ($15 with service charges)
3-show pass: $40/$36 | Available at www.tickets.thecultch.com or 604.251.1363
6-show pass: $84 | Available at www.upintheairtheatre.com/buy-tickets
For full festival schedule: www.revolverfestival.ca

ABOUT REVOLVER THEATRE FESTIVAL:
Under the artistic direction of Daniel Martin and David Mott, the rEvolver Theatre Festival presents high energy and adventurous new works with a focus on supporting local talent since 2013. The festival provides professional presenting opportunities in Vancouver and offers a unique platform to present contemporary cutting-edge script-based theatre, devised works, and site-specific performances by artists ranging from recent graduates to more experienced professionals attempting to grow or transform their practice significantly.

Website: www.upintheairtheatre.com/revolver-festival   |  www.revolverfestival.ca
Facebook: www.facebook.com/UpintheairTheatre
YouTube: www.youtube.com/UpintheairTheatre
Twitter: www.twitter.com/UITATheatre

Announcing the 2016 rEvolver Festival Mainstage!

1617_RevolverThe Cultch is thrilled to welcome back Upintheair Theatre for the fourth annual rEvolver Festival.

The rEvolver Festival runs from May 11-22, and is dedicated to providing presenting opportunities to emerging professional theatre makers both locally and nationally. Past rEvolver Festivals have included world premieres of hit shows as Jordan Hall’s Kayak, Delinquent Theatre’s Stationary: A Recession-Era Musical (which featured as part of The Cultch’s 2014/15 season) and Mind of a Snail’s Caws and Effect, the shadow puppet hit of the 2015 festival.

This year’s programming represents the rich diversity of voices, aesthetics, and styles among Vancouver and Canadian emerging professional theatre makers. From immigrant stories as a live boxing match to technologically guided meditation to mesmerizing narrative juggling, 2016 is a high-water mark for stylistic exploration at rEvolver. Join Upintheair Theatre in seeing all that this incredible community of artists has to offer.

MAINSTAGE SHOWS:

* Happiness TM (May Can Theatre, Ottawa)

* Kolejka (star star theatre, Vancouver)

* Mis Papas (rice & beans theatre, Vancouver)

* Never the Last (Delinquent Theatre, Vancouver)

* The New Conformity (Cause and Effects Circus, Vancouver)

* okay.odd. (Hong Kong Exile, Vancouver)

* Silenced (Urban Ink Emerging Artists’ Collective, Vancouver)

SITE-SPECIFIC EVENTS:

* Beowulf, Marc Castellini (Vancouver)

* Booth Connection, The Biting School (Vancouver)

FOUNDER’S LOUNGE CABARET EVENTS:

* Charisma Furs, Katie Sly (Toronto)

* I want to tell you something, Caroline Sniatynski (Vancouver)

* Storytelling, Riel Hahn Presents, Riel Hahn (Vancouver)

* Demostage Upintheair Theatre (Vancouver) – FREE

* Ta Gueule Translation and Workshop Series, BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective & Ruby Slippers Theatre (Vancouver) – BY DONATION

* The Updrafts Reading Series – BY DONATION

Excited by what you see? There are a number of different ways you can purchase tickets!

  1. With the 6-show flex pass, the passholder can see up to six individual shows, take five friends to one show, or any combination in between!
  2. If you can’t see 6 shows, you can still save by purchasing a 3-show pass instead!
  3.  And of course individual tickets are available both through The Cultch’s Box Office and at the door.

The Invisible Hand: A Note From Director Richard Wolfe

Pi Theatre’s The Invisible Hand opens this week at The Cultch and we can’t wait to present this critically acclaimed production. Directed by Richard Wolfe, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s high-stakes thriller follows a kidnapped American trader in Pakistan playing the market for his life. In this riveting, relevant play, taut scenarios unfold as the trader works to earn his release while unwittingly handing the tools for financial chaos and political vindication to his captors. The production made The Georgia Straights ‘17 Things to Do in Vancouver’ this week as well as Vancity Buzz’s ‘6 Hottest Shows in Vancouver’.

Here are the Directors Notes from Richard Wolfe as preface for the show:

Pi is proud to be producing the Canadian premiere of Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand, presented on the Historic Theatre stage by the visionary team here at The Cultch. I knew as soon I read this script a year-and-a-half ago that it was a Pi show. Bold, smart and visceral – it’s the kind of full and rich theatre experience our audiences have come to expect from our company.

Back in 2014, US-led airstrikes on ISIS were just beginning. I wondered then how the situation would look by the time we opened Akhtar’s play in Vancouver. The naïve, hopeful part of me thought perhaps the situation would have improved. Sadly, it hasn’t.

Akhtar is a wonderful writer. His language is strong and his characters are vivid. But what I like most about The Invisible Hand is how his characters tend to be neither all good nor all bad. In my mind, ambiguous characters make the best theatre.

Akhtar has said he has a deep interest in exploring the themes of Muslim identity in the contemporary world, as well as the workings of the global financial system. Both of these themes are explored in the play you’re about to see.

How do people from different backgrounds become involved in insurgency movements? And what role does the invisible hand of the market play in today’s globalized world? Does it contribute to the general good, as Adam Smith wanted us to believe in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (where the title of this play can be found)? Does a world full of self-interest really benefit others in the long run?

The longing for money is fairly universal. But what do we do with it when we have it? And when we have it, what will it do to us?

The Invisible Hand runs from Apr 5 – 23, 2016 in the Historic Theatre. Tickets from $20 and are available online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363

Q&A with Camyar Chaichian, creator and co-director of Doost (Friend)

March 22 marks the world premiere of Doost (Friend) by Neworld Theatre – and it’s happening right here at The Cultch!

Doost (Friend) is a story about compassion, community, and heritage. It is an exploration (through dance, music and poetry) of borders that surround us; borders between secular and spiritual as well as between professionals and community members. This production features an ensemble of professional theatre artists and members of the Vancouver Sufi order who will perform together and bring Doost (Friend) to life.

Neworld Theatre Founder and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

Neworld Theatre Founder
and Doost (Friend) Creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian
Photo: Dina Ferreira Stoddard

We wanted to learn more about this exciting project, so we turned to the show’s creator and co-director Camyar Chaichian for some further insight.

What excites you most about this production and sharing it with Cultch audiences?
CC: There’s something for everyone. You don’t have to be spiritual to like it. Theatre is often based on intellectual friction. Nothing wrong with that. But how about losing yourself in a trip built on good vibrations mixed with some mystery and enchantment? Who can say no to that?

What were the origins of this project?
CC: My inherent Persian love of Sufi poetry and music, and my theatre practice, came together when I asked the Elder of my path if I could express my devotion through a play based on the story of a generous light who came through the world in the form of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. Neworld Theatre’s 20th anniversary was a few years around the corner. It all came together.

Doost (Friend) includes professional theatre artists, community members, members of the Vancouver Sufi Centre, and the Canadian Memorial United Church. In what ways do you feel that the theatre, as opposed to other mediums, is an ideal space to promote inter-faith dialogue?
CC: Years ago I was performing Neworld’s political satire, Ali and Ali, at the Magnetic North Festival in Edmonton. The audience was full of – what I presumed – conservative seniors who would – I feared – hate the show. They ended up being one of our best audiences of the entire tour. I asked one of them what she liked about the show. Her answer: “Theatre is a place where I can be exposed to ideas that are frightening or risky and feel safe doing so.” That can apply to spiritual dialogue as well. Not to mention that the many layers of artists that contribute to a theatre play are essential to mining the complexities of such a topic.

Can you tell us about the artists involved?
CC: One of my favourite things to do! We have some of our most wonderful actors, Richard Newman, Sam Bob, Luc Roderique, Nadeem Phillips, and Sofie Newman. A flamenco goddess by the name of Delara Tiv has come all the way from Spain to be a part of the show and they are joined on stage by some big heart being delivered by the community members. And my son Elijah makes his debut.

Can you tell us a bit about the involvement and support of the Nimatullahi Sufi order with this production?
CC: We have Keyvan and Vajieh Tiv, as well as Maya Lee, members of our order, joining the cast and bringing their passion and understanding into the lexicon of the actors. The most important contribution of the order is the direction and essence of following the path of love that we are all trying to share aspects of with the audience. For those of us on the path, this is as much a spiritual practice as an artistic one. The two live hand in hand. Think Gregorian chanting or Nusrat Fattah Ali Khan.

In addition to the 12 performers featured in Doost (Friend) there will be 5 musicians playing live onstage. How is music integrated in this presentation? What types of instruments are being used and what kinds of music can audiences expect to hear?
CC: I have one name to start with: SOLEY! We are blessed. Soley has done it all and is a huge name in Persian music. He has transformed himself into one of the leading Sufi musicians of the world and he’s come from Toronto to jam with us! Can you tell I’m excited? But that’s not all, he’s joining amazing locals Ali Razmi on setar (Persian strings), Hamin Honari on daf (percussion), and Amir Eslami on ney (reed flute). They will be creating some fusion with Zion Fyah (vocals and guitar) and Brandon Walker (cornett). Not to mention backing up Delara’s Flamenco and some world sounds from the cast. It will all be rooted in traditional Persian Sufi music so the audience can expect some eclectic sounds.

Only 6 performances!

Doost (Friend)

March 22-26 2016

Historic Theatre

Purchase tickets here

An Interview with Jenn Sungshine of Our City of Colour

Jenn Sungshine

Jenn Sungshine photo by Rebecca Blisset

March is shaping up to be a colourful month here at The Cultch. We are presenting two critically acclaimed plays, The Gay Heritage Project and Ga Ting, which both deal with issues related to the QTIPOC (Queer,Transgender, Indigenous, People of Colour) community. We had a discourse with Jenn Sungshine who works for our Ga Ting Community Partner, Our City of Colour, about her involvement in various organizations and the QTIPOC community in general.

About Jenn: Jenn Sungshine  facilitates with creativity and social justice media to evolutionize and revolutionize QTIPOC visibility and community-based work through Our City of Colours ( Community Partner for Ga Ting), Love Intersections, Out in Schools and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia.

 

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1. What are your thoughts on the importance of organizations helping out the artistic community though presentations such as Ga Ting and other GLBTQ plays like The Gay Heritage Project?
Community partnership between organizations in the artistic community helps to facilitate a sense of connectedness through shared experiences. We all want to see ourselves reflected in the stories that are being told, outside of our own little silos. There is a sense of proud recognition and relatability when we can see ourselves represented in nuanced and three dimensional roles as they relate to race, gender, sexuality, culture and all of the intersecting experiences. I find this especially important through art because the ground upon which we walk and play and live our lives has the potential to be bigger and far more interconnected in an isolating city like Vancouver.

2. You mention the acronym QTIPOC. Would you mind explaining exactly what this means?
QTIPOC stands for queer, trans, indigenous people/person of colour – it’s a mouthful isn’t it? And why not? We are complex beings. We are cutie-pocs.

3. What is your involvement with The Pink Line and can you expand more on this initiative?
I’m the facilitator for The Pink Line, which is a new community-engaged theatre initiative created to foreground the stories of members in the LGBTQI+ communities, told in their own words. Our focus this year will be racism within the queer community. Participants will be drawn from the many racial and ethnic groups that make up Vancouver’s LGBTQI+ community. Chris Gatchalian, artistic producer at The Frank Theatre graciously asked if I would be interested in facilitating conversations around race and racism. It runs deep, like the microaggressions that we experience on a daily level.

4. You are a busy individual involved with many organizations that deal with important social issues. Do you think that Vancouver is more welcoming of people with alternative lifestyles than other cities around the world?
I don’t like to compare cities. It’s a dangerous road to go down on so I will only speak to my own experiences here. I think Vancouver is actually a relatively conservative city in terms of the actual minutiae of social interactions that people engage in and how they are subtly encouraged to express themselves creatively. Perhaps due to the scarcity of communal spaces and housing, Vancouver can sometimes seem quite stifling and full of unacknowledged competition.
That being said, Vancouver prides itself on embracing “diversity”. To me, the concept of “alternative lifestyle” is a relative one depending on sub/cultural connections as well as personal predilection and interests — from music to dance culture to food to activism — it’s very sceney here. Of course, like any city Vancouver has its own narrative. One that I find resonates with certain lifestyles and practices while not with others. I have my ups and downs with this city for sure but I have to remind myself everyday of how lucky I truly am to live here.
Lastly, I do think that we glorify busy-ness and quite frankly I am busy because I need to survive, not because I really want to be. Can I retire with cats yet?

5. How do you feel the Out in Schools program is succeeding in its mission? What more do you feel that our national, provincial, and local government can do more to promote the program? What can the community do?
Brandon Yan, my brilliant successor at Out in Schools can speak far more profoundly in all the ways that Out in Schools is succeeding in its mission! Personally I would love to see a SOGI policy at all levels of governance. While I do think tremendous strides have been made in classrooms here and certainly Out in Schools has played a hand in that, the work is far from over!

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The Cultch presents The Gay Heritage Project March 2 – 19 and Ga Ting March 8 – 19. To purchase tickets click here. Get your tickets before it is too late!

Ga Ting weaves a powerful and emotionally-charged story about an immigrant Chinese couple trying to come to terms with the death of their son, Kevin. When they invite Kevin’s Caucasian boyfriend for dinner after the funeral, the evening devolves into a fiery cultural and generational clash.

“Ga Ting isn’t just about being gay, but about parents getting to know your children and children sharing themselves with their parents…Go see it. Take your parents” — GayVancouver

Thoughts on Vancouver’s Gay Heritage by Kevin Dale McKeown

McKeown2Kevin Dale McKeown, then and now, was the Georgia Straight‘s first LGBT columnist.

In preparation for The Gay Heritage Project we reached out to Kevin Dale McKeown, The Georgia Straight’s gay news columnist from 1970 – 1975 and currently writing for the online publication Xtra. Here are his thoughts on gay heritage.

Vancouver’s queer community has a long and rich heritage, much of it preserved in oral histories (and barroom gossip) from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, some found in early newsletters of the Association for Sexual Knowledge (ASK) in the sixties, and then, beginning in the 70s in sometimes excruciating detail in my weekly column, “QQ Writes …. Page 69”, in the Georgia Straight, and in subsequent periodicals such as Your Thing, The Gay Canadian, and Angles, all precursors to the appearance in 1993 of Xtra West. There have been many milestones in that history, some of them global, some national, and many less well remembered moments in our own city.

My own appearance in a publicly circulated newspaper was a milestone of sorts, and the founding of Vancouver’s Gay Liberation Front (GLF), the efforts to desegregate our “men only” clubs and bars, the legal struggle of the Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) against the Vancouver Sun over its refusal to publish classified ads with the word “gay”, the public rallies and protest during the 70s, and the first Gay Unity March in 1978, which evolved into today’s annual Pride parade are all top-of mind when I think of our heritage and history.

 

The founding of many organizations, especially the drag community’s Dogwood Monarchist Society, which helped rally our community during the terrible plague years during which AIDS took so many of our friends and loved ones, were milestones worth noting.

The opening of a pioneering gay and lesbian bookstore, Little Sisters, in 1983 and their subsequent legal fight with Canada Customs over our right to import and read books that were meaningful to us … there was a milestone!

Yes, we’ve come a long way and made a lot of progress. But I feel that our “community” is now in a challenging period where we are questioning the need for identity politics and squabbling within our ranks over issues that would have seemed irrelevant forty years ago. There is still work to do, and we need to preserve our history so that future generations remember their roots, how hard we fought for what we have, and realize how easily it could all be lost to us if we do not continue to stand together.

We have many allies now we didn’t have before. And we can work together with other marginalized groups to continue to push for advances on all fronts. But ultimately I believe that it is up to us to support and care for our own, and I think that begins with educating and supporting the next generation, and the one after that.

Speaking of identity politics, I dislike both the catch-all use of the word “queer” to represent our community, and the ever-morphing alphabet soup we’re burdened with today.

I’m all in favour of the use of a new acronym, which comes to us out of the London queer community, GSD, for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Doesn’t “GSD community” say it all, without putting anyone’s nose out of joint?

I look forward to hearing more about the history and heritage of the GSD community across Canada through The Gay Heritage Project, and sharing some of my own stories at the opening reception. –Kevin Dale McKeown

gayheritge_HomepageHeader_v1-01About The Gay Heritage Project: Three of our country’s most gifted creator/performers set out to answer one question: is there such a thing as gay heritage? In their search, they uncover a rich history not often shared and shine new light on contemporary gay culture. The result is a hilarious and moving homage to the people who came before us and the events that continue to shape our lives.

The Daisy Theatre’s Ronnie Burkett said we would be crazy not to program this show! “Celebratory, upbeat, and deeply moving” — Toronto Star

The Gay Heritage Project runs from March 2nd – 19th at The Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street, Vancouver. Tickets are available from $20. To purchase tickets click here

 

 

The speeches of BigMouth

In BigMouth, which opened last night at our York Theatre and runs until Feb 21, creator and performer Valentijn Dhaenens traverses sermons, declarations of war, farewells, final arguments, victory speeches and eulogies from across time. After the show, the lobby was buzzing as audiences members speculated about the creation of the show and the connection between speeches.

BigMouth image 8 - credit Maya Wilsens

Here in his own word, Dhaenens describes his process for creating the show:

Over the course of a year I promised myself to read at least one speech a day. Doing so, I read more than a thousand speeches that year. I tried not to force speeches to relate to one another but simply put them on stacks hoping that one day they would start communicating with each other. For instance, there were 5 months between the reading of Goebbel’s ‘Totaler Krieg’ speech and the moment I ran into the Patton-speech. I learned that that they were given at about the same time, saying exactly the same thing to exactly the same kind of people in a very different manner. Those speeches were begging to be interweaved with one another and become a massive go-to-war-appeal.

One of the key moments in the development of the show came when I had just memorized the funeral oration of Pericles (around 400BC) and at night watched the television news and saw French President Sarkozy (who had just lost 10 soldiers in Afghanistan) repeating about the same words. A few months later I added King Boudewijn’s abduction speech right after Pericles. The last one talking to the parents of literally thousand killed lying there at his feet. The first one refusing to sign an abortion-law, fighting for the even unborn single life.”

So what speeches made the cut? Here’s a sneak peek of some of the memorable speeches featured in the show. For the rest, get your tickets to BigMouth before Feb 21!

 

Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly`s special offer to The Cultch subscribers

Valkyrie_Logo_Horizontal

Jordan Both has been a regular technician at The Cultch for nearly a decade, and got his start in theatre through our youth program. He’s recently embarked on an exciting new business venture that brings a new twist on fitness to East Vancouver. Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly held its grand opening in October 2015, and has been keeping busy establishing itself as an important community space for martial arts and fitness in the Collingwood neighbourhood.

Valkyrie WMAA1                                                 “A rare pause in boxing class.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

Valkyrie WMAA is co-owned by Kaja Sadowski and Courtney Rice, and is the first female-owned and operated Western Martial Arts school in Canada. Jordan and his fellow instructors teach swordplay, boxing, and wrestling six days per week, and offer a unique training program that combines historical knowledge with modern sport science to turn even the most dedicated couch potato into a fit and happy fighter. Their classes range from 2-hour evening martial arts sessions, to day-long workshops, and quick and cheap 1-hour drop-in fitness classes. There’s something for everybody, regardless of their interests and schedule.

Valkyrie WMAA2                                              “Student Kat Yoshida spars with a rapier.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

The school was recently named a Top 5 Finalist in the “Best Emerging Entrepreneur” category of the Small Business BC Awards, which recognizes a new business that “contributes to the social, cultural and economic well-being of their communities [and] has demonstrated community leadership and entrepreneurial initiative”. The Valkyrie WMAA team sees fitness and martial arts training as an important path to personal transformation, self-esteem, self-reliance, and lifelong health. Unfortunately, this path is closed to many women, older or unfit people, and members of the LGBT community due to hostile environments and poor training models that cater predominantly to fit, straight, men. In the macho, competitive world of mixed martial arts training and high-end fitness, Valkyrie WMAA’s colourful, welcoming space, strict anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and wealth of strong female role models stand out.

Valkyrie WMAA3                                               “Focusing on swordplay drills.” (Photo Credit: Courtney Rice)

Like The Cultch, Valkyrie WMAA is committed to supporting diversity and community engagement within its field. In martial arts, that means maintaining a safe space for students of all backgrounds, offering excellent training for every body type, and educating the general public through free online tutorials and low-cost community lectures and workshops.

Valkyrie WMAA4                                            “The Valkyrie WMAA founders at the school grand opening. Left to Right: Courtney Rice, David Packer,

Jordan Both, Kaja Sadowski.” (Photo credit: Carol Both)

They’ve also got a special offer for supporters of The Cultch who want to get in on the swordfighting fun. From now until March 4th, all of our subscribers will receive a free Valkyrie Base 4-class introductory program ($120 value) with the purchase of any credit package. Credits are redeemable for group classes, private lessons, and workshops, can be transferred or shared between multiple students, and never expire. We wish Jordan and his co-workers success with their new business, and look forward to trying out a class for ourselves!