Sunday, March 11, 2012

West Coast Mammals

Above is the rather lopsided origami paper airplane that I made with the help of Melissa Tsang yesterday at the Instant Coffee workshop at the Western Front that the West Coast Mammals attended.

WCM is the Vancouver/Surrey culture vulture offshoot of Darren O'Donnell and the Toronto-based Mammalian Diving Reflex's ongoing collaborations with the students of Bridgeview Elementary in Surrey on different projects that have appeared at past PuSh festivals (see my previous post on this year's Eat the Street). Led by Donna Soares, Melissa, and Amy Fung, the idea is to keep engaging interested students in arts and culture in the Lower Mainland by taking them to different monthly events. In February it was Winterruption on Granville Island, which I was unable to attend.

But I was free yesterday, and after meeting at the Commercial Skytrain stop at 11 am, Donna, Melissa, Tanille Geib (like me, a new WCM member) and I hauled it out to Scott Road to meet up with Ramen, Carmen, and Jordan. It was a small turnout (Spring Break starts tomorrow after all), but the interest and enthusiasm were high, stoked initially by a visit to the rehearsal space and administrative offices of the Vancouver Opera, where Melissa oversees the company's Opera in Schools division. In addition to getting a tour of the props and costumes departments, we also sat in on the first 45 minutes of the sitzprobe for the company's upcoming production of The Barber of Seville. Sitzprobe, the kids and I learned from Melissa, is the German term for the first "seated" rehearsal when the orchestra and the singers (who up until then would have been preparing separately) get together to go through the opera together. It was fascinating to get this glimpse behind the scenes, and to see the remarks made by the conductor. Best of all, we stayed long enough to hear the lead baritone sing the famous "Figaro" aria that I of course remembered from Bugs Bunny, but that the kids recognized from Spongebob.

After that it was off to the Front for some paper-folding and joke-telling, then nachos on Main Street. A whole lot of fun, and I look forward to the next event.


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