PuSh Blog

Before my “Youth” runs dry—Thoughts from a PuSh Youth Academy participant

January 30, 2015

The PuSh Festival is pleased to offer the PuSh Youth Program for 16- to 24-year olds, to nurture budding dance, theatre and music enthusiasts of Vancouver—from the cautiously curious to emerging pre-professionals. The PuSh Festival has created a program that ushers young people through to the rich world of the performing arts by making it accessible, engaging and entertaining.

We asked Jamee Valin, 2015 Youth Academy participant, to share her insights from inside this group of ambitious and forward-thinking youth.

2014 Huamn Library RizHerbosaDG
Photo: Riz Herbosa DG

Hello, PuSh enthusiasts! I’m Jamee, a contemporary dance artist and ballet instructor working throughout the Lower Mainland. First off, I joined PuSh Youth Academy as a way to connect with a larger network of professional colleagues and to ultimately watch, engage, and critique performances before my time as a “youth” runs dry. Like many of us in the group, I have only lived in Vancouver for a few years. It’s efforts like these that aid in my understanding of Vancouver as a community/city. I aim to do as many cultural programs and initiatives as possible to uncover what and who makes up Vancouver, as well as feel invested in the place I reside (well, I actually live east of Boundary Road in Burnaby, but that’s just semantics…it’s only one block away). By knowing what is around me, I can better understand my personal artistic path and aesthetic choices. Which brings me to our conversation with Peter Dickinson on Thursday night.

Peter is a Liberal Arts professor at SFU as well as a PuSh Festival board member, playwright and performance critic. Peter discussed a lot of interesting topics in a very clear manner. He chose his words in an engaging way without straying far from the meaty topics at hand. He has a few very key interests that really got me to think: What is my relationship to Vancouver? Is it necessary for me to be here? Why do so many great artists choose to stay when there are more secure funding possibilities elsewhere? I think he made the answer quite simple—Vancouver is a partial reason the work exists in the first place. People can create comfortable and supportive working relationships in this city. We foster community, we share resources and we host each other in events. We are too small to isolate ourselves. Theatre companies share office space as dance companies split bills and host each others’ creative processes in salon-style events.

He also mentioned the importance of the PuSh Festival. Vancouver is like a bubble. PuSh brings outside influence in. PuSh’s reputation in the international circuit gives us the opportunity to engage in diverse works from around the world. On a smaller scale, seeing work from other parts of the country lessens the gap the mountains create. We witness work with different form. Things we might be familiar with and happy to rediscover on the West Coast.

Jamee Valin
PuSh Youth Academy Participant

If you’re between 16 and 24 years old, and interested in the performing arts or in meeting new people, consider joining the PuSh Youth Program! There are many ways to participate: see shows for only $5 on the Youth Passport; start your career in the performing arts with work experience in the Young Ambassadors and Youth Volunteer programs; or, join the Youth Academy to talk art in depth!