Whistler's Cultural Olympiad lineup gets a boost 

Artcirq and Gitksan dance group will perform at Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre


Just over 80 days from the 2010 Winter Olympics, organizers of the Cultural Olympiad are still beefing up the roster of arts and entertainment that will be showcased alongside sport during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The fourth phase of the programming was released this week, and it includes 36 new projects. From circus and street arts, comedy, dance and music to the literary arts, theatre and visual arts. Of those 36 projects, two are slated to take place in Whistler.

The We yah hani nah Coastal First Nations Dance Festival 2010, featuring the Dancers of Damelahamid, will take centre stage at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre on Sunday, Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There, the traditional Gitksan dance group from the Skeena River area will present masked dances, stories and songs that stretch back thousands of years to the time of Simoiget Hagbegwatku, the highest ranking chief of the Dakhumhast House. Clad in authentic full button-blanket regalia, the troupe will share these high-energy songs and dances, richly infused with their traditional culture, with the Olympic crowds.

On Saturday, Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the cultural centre plays host to a special circus and street art show by Artcirq, a Nunavut-based arts collective founded in 1998. The group was formed following the suicides of two young people in the small community of Igloolik. With guidance from Montreal's Cirque ...loize and Guillaume Saladin, Artcirq set out to bridge the gaps between generations and cultures. Today, they've created a circus like no other in the world, winning over global audiences with big-top thrills like acrobatics, juggling and clowns, coupled with Inuit throat singing, drumming and traditional games.

"Amazing feats of athleticism at the 2010 Winter Games won't be restricted to the snow and ice - they'll also be on our stages throughout the Games region as some of the world's premiere dancers, actors and musicians join our cultural celebrations," Burke Taylor, vice president of culture and celebrations for VANOC said in a press release.

"Strength is often found by exploring vulnerability and taking risks, and the artists involved in our Cultural Olympiad are known for pushing the limits - both physically and artistically - in incredibly exciting and rewarding ways for the audience."

"Having the Cultural Olympiad here is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - it's not like typical festivals," Robert Kerr, the Cultural Olympiad's program director, said in a release. "We're bringing together literally thousands of some of the best musicians, dancers, actors, and artists from all across the cultural sphere, from Canada and around the world, to create something of a magnitude that has not been seen here before. It will be new, it will be breathtaking and it will be memorable for everyone who shares in it."

Though the bulk of the Cultural Olympiad programming has already been announced, VANOC is expected to make two more announcements in the coming weeks, focusing more on visual art installations.

The Cultural Olympiad performances start on Jan. 22, 2010. For more information, purchase tickets, or to view the entire schedule of 186 projects announced to-date, visit www.vancouver2010.com/culturalolympiad .



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