Theatrical Dance in Vancouver, 1880’s-1920’s

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By Kaija Pepper
It was the same in every new town …

the saloons came first
then the general store
then a church
next there was a bank
and then a theatre

Vigour, variety and imagination have consistently characterized dance in Vancouver. In the earliest days of the city, dance was a small part of amateur theatrical productions, but with the arrival of the railway a whole new spectrum of local and touring activity emerged. Theatrical Dance in Vancouver: 1880’s-1920’s is meant to create connections to a time, and to dance and dancers, long past.

It is comprised of close-up views of people and places. Mabel Atlantis on her revolving globe at City Hall Theatre in 1898 … students of the Barbes School de ballet performing in Stanley Park in the 1920s … the array of vaudeville performers … and Denishawn, Martha Graham, Adeline Genée and Pavlova. Other names emerge: Molly Lee, Mary Protich, Ione Zinck, Gladys Atree and Helen Crewe, all adding to the growing pool of dancers who have appeared on stages around the world. It just might be that Vancouver has been the major source of dance talent in Canada, and Pepper gives us the grounds to support that fact.

About the Author
Kaija Pepper, dance writer, teacher and journalist, is the author of The Dance Teacher: A Biography of Kay Armstrong (2001), Theatrical Dance in Vancouver: 1880’s-1920’s (2000) and The Man Next Door Dances: The Art of Peter Bingham (2007). Her essays have been included in The Responsive Body: A Language of Contemporary Dance (Banff Centre Press, 2002) and in Right to Dance/Dancing for Rights (Banff Centre Press, 2004). Kaija is a dance critic for the Globe & Mail and her quarterly “View from Vancouver” has run in Dance International for over a decade; she also contributes to many other North American dance magazines and journals. Kaija leads writing workshops and lectures on dance history and critical thinking.


Softcover, 8" x 9", 91 pp., 65 photographs and illustrations