Youth take over the Cultch during IGNITE! festival

Dance performance at IGNITE! Youth Arts Festival at Vancouver East Cultural Centre on May 19, 2010

Last night my son and I went to the IGNITE! Youth Festival at the Cultch – and I was truly surprised by how good it was.

My son heard about the performance yesterday from one of his friends at Windsor House and begged me to take him. The theatre performance was at 6 and the dance showcase was at 8, with the whole she-bang ending at 10. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to both because four hours seemed a bit too long.

But I agreed, somewhat begrudgingly, because I wanted my homeschooled son to spend time with his peers and see their work. In the end, I was so happy we went because it was a fantastic set of performances – far beyond my expectations.

And the entire thing was created by youth (13 to 24) including writing, performing, lighting, sound, stage managing, media relations, and promotion.

An annual event

“Every year, for one week in May, The Cultch is taken over and transformed by young people… in what has grown to be Vancouver’s largest youth-driven arts festival,” reads the IGNITE! website. “The festival includes showcases in music, dance, and spoken word, the world premiere of three one-act plays, a visual arts exhibit, variety shows featuring improv, drag, circus arts, and much more.”

We saw two plays – first: OUR TIME, written by Christine Quintana and directed by Brendan Albano

. This play had a creative well-developed storyline about a young girl facing the future after high school graduation – with a few unexpected twists and turns. The second: TOP SECRET was written by Deborah Voght and directed by Rachel Aberle

 and dealt with the issue of a couple of young gay guys “coming out.”

The dance show – Swish – featured more than 80 dancers from around the city. Dance styles ranged from breakdance to bhangra, tap dance to interpretive drama dance – and it was held together with a wacky drama about a school on another plant studying dance as an example of human weirdness.

The IGNITE! Youth Arts Festival runs til May 22.

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