PuSh Blog

Meet the 2017 PuSh Young Ambassadors

January 05, 2017

The Young Ambassadors program integrates the next generation of Vancouver’s young artists into the Festival and connects them with visiting Canadian and international artists. Young professionals serve as local ambassadors to the presented artists and are provided opportunities for engagement with their specific artists’ practice as well as several workshops and industry events within the larger context of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Patrick Blenkarn

Patrick Blenkarn writes and make artworks in a variety of media. He is currently completing the MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies at Simon Fraser University where he has been making books for performance, short films, and audio guides. His recent work explores multilingualism, nationalism, standardization, and the history of philosophy.

His plays and performances have taken place in theatres, on streets, in kitchens, in hotel rooms, and for four months over email. He recently presented work at Interplay 2016 in Vancouver and the SummerWorks Performance Festival in Toronto. His first short film (co-created with his longtime collaborator Lily-Ross Millard and starring fellow PuSh Ambassador June Fukumura) was commissioned by the Festival of Recorded Movement 2016 in Vancouver and has since been screened at experimental film festivals in Los Angeles and Guadalajara.

In 2013, Patrick completed undergraduate studies in philosophy, theatre, and film at the University of King’s College in Halifax. His thesis concerned the process of theatre making as a site for developing modes of political and ethical living. These thoughts and others have been published in the journals Theatre Research in Canada and Performance Matters and presented at conferences internationally.

Patrick is deeply grateful to the mentorships and residencies he has had with the Halifax-based companies Zuppa Theatre and Secret Theatre, as well as the emerging artist programs at SummerWorks, the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, and the Telluride Film Festival. He currently works as the producer for the Vancouver-based theatre company, The Elbow, run by Itai Erdal.

Elysse Cheadle

Elysse Cheadle is an emerging theatre-maker, writer, director, and performer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts where she studied under Penelope Stella, Steven Hill, DD Kugler, and Lisa Beley. She is also a graduate of Mount Royal University’s theatre arts performance program where she studied under Glenda Stirling, Jane MacFarlane and Kevin McKendrick.

Since graduating, Elysse has focused on training in contemporary dance and collaborative creation practices. Her work is physical, playful, poetic, and absurd. It uses collaged narratives and rhythmically-driven dramaturgy. It delights in the tensions of incongruous genres, characters, objects and texts.

Elysse’s work has been presented at the Shooting Gallery Performance Series (2016), Ignite! Theatre Festival for Emerging Artists (2016), BC Buds Festival (2016), rEvolver Theatre Festival (2015), the Vancouver Fringe (2015), the Accordion Noir Festival (2015, 2013, 2012), Mascall Dance’s BLOOM (2013), Art for Impact (2013), Leaky Heaven’s BLINK (2012), the Illuminares Lantern Festival (2012), and at Hive: The New Bees (2012).

Outside of her work as a theatre-maker and performer, she is an arts producer, facilitator, and teacher. Elysse was the co-producer and curator for the inaugural 2015-2016 SCA Studio Series, a monthly event showcasing the work of School for the Contemporary Arts alumni, and is the guest curator for the 2017 rEvolver Theatre Festival produced by Upintheair Theatre. She has taught voice for performance at SFU and the Vancouver Academy of Dramatic Arts. Currently, she is writing Fuchsia Futures—theatre and music inspired by the life and theories of population geneticist George R Price.

June Fukumura

June Fukumura is Vancouver based, Japanese-Canadian theatre artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development from Simon Fraser University. Her training spans across Grotowski-inspired physical theatre, devised theatre, clown, contemporary dance, performance art, directing, and producing. Her artistic practice is a unique blend of contemporary experimental theatre, site-specific work, community engaged arts, and physical performance techniques.

June is the Co-Artistic Director of Popcorn Galaxies, an emerging theatre company interested in re-enchanting the everyday through unconventional site-specific works. Popcorn Galaxies has produced six successful shows in four years—Apocalypse Parade (2016); New Narratives: an Enviro-Art Extravaganza (2016); Invisible City (2015); Hold on Tightly (2014); Elk Walk (2014); and Radiant Thing (2013). One of the most recent productions, New Narratives: an Enviro-Art Extravaganza (May, 2016) was a multi-disciplinary eco-art festival featuring over 40 local artists in nine site-specific performances.

June is also a co-founder of New(to)Town Collective, an emerging artist collective with a mandate to provide on-going experimental research workshops called Training Jams for artists in Vancouver. The Collective’s core intention is to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and the cross-pollination of ideas within the artistic community.

Starting in 2017 June will be working as the Associate Producer Intern with Vancouver-based theatre company, Theatre Replacement. Working alongside Theatre Replacement’s Co-Artistic Directors, Maiko Yamamoto and James Long and Managing Producer, Corbin Murdoch she will continue to develop her skills in producing, adding depth and breadth to her artistic practice.

Arash Khakpour

Originally from Tehran and based in Vancouver, Arash Khakpour is privileged to be a dance artist on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. He is a graduate of Out Innerspace’s Modus Operandi training program, has completed the Cultch’s Youth Mentorship program, and is a recipient of the contact improvisation scholarship at EDAM under the direction of Peter Bingham. Arash has had the privilege of working with Wen Wei Dance, Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, Kinesis Dance Somatheatro, Company 605, Constance Cooke, and David McIntosh (Battery Opera) among many others.

Arash’s choreography has been presented at Dancing on the Edge, Art for Impact, Dance Days Festival (Victoria BC), Dance In Vancouver, rEvolver Festival and Vines Art Festival. Arash’s desire is to see whether the theatre can be a place to interrogate the body and to investigate the alternate ways of being. He is interested in dance as a language to research human conditions through historical, social, political and existential interpretations. Arash is the cofounder of Vancouver’s guerrilla performance group Pressed Paradise, cofounder of the dance-theatre company The Biting School (alongside his brother Aryo Khakpour), and the founder and co-host of How About A Time Machine, a podcast on the history of Canadian performance.

Aryo Khakpour

Aryo Khakpour is a Vancouver based multidisciplinary performer and theatre-maker. He holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Simon Fraser University where Penelope Stella, DD Kugler and Steven Hill mentored him. Aryo has been involved in multiple theatre, dance, and film productions in Vancouver. He has had the pleasure and honour of working with Cheryl Prophet, Lois Anderson, Judy Radul, Rob Kitsos, David Raymond (Out Innerspace Dance Theatre), Billy Marchenski (Radix Theatre Society), Flick Harrison, Tim Carlson (Theatre Conspiracy), Justine A. Chambers, and David McIntosh (Battery Opera) among many others.

His most recent performances were in battery opera’s M/Hotel, Justine Chambers’Family Dinner (Canada Dance Festival), and Theatre Conspiracy’s Foreign Radical. Aryo cofounded The Biting School, which has been presented at Dancing on the Edge Festival, Dance Days Victoria, rEvolver Festival and Dance in Vancouver over the past two years.

Aryo is strongly rooted in both physical devised theatre-making that defies the text and the extraordinarily powerful plays that have inspired him since the beginning of his practice. Aryo is interested in the dynamics of power, implications of ideologies, repetition of mythologies, and cultural adaptation, which were reflected in Silk Road, his research project produced by and created with Hong Kong Exile, on Iranian passion plays in a Canadian context.

Julia Siedlanowska

Julia was born and is currently living as a theatre maker on unceded Coast Salish Territories. Last year she completed her apprenticeship at Pacific Theatre directing Any Night by Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn. Recently she produced Kara Nolte’s AUX.LA.MORE, directed Umizoko for The Only Animal’s Generation Hot, and participated in the Wet Ink Collective. Julia will be playing Iris again in a re-mount of The Nether at the Firehall this January. This summer she will be participating in Terrain of Thought with Jumblies Theatre in Toronto, deepening her passion for community arts.

Julia is co-artistic director of Shakespeare Unchained, a company she runs with Calgary based dance artist Kara Nolte, which explores classic texts through dance and theatre. Julia holds a BA in Acting from the University of Wales. Past acting credits include The Drowning Girls (Stone’s Throw Productions), Wit and A Christmas Carol On the Air (Pacific Theatre), Mary’s Wedding (Peninsula Productions), and The Winter’s Tale (Classic Chic). Currently she is working as an assistant director to Mindy Parfitt on Corleone for Classic Chic, which will premiere at Pacific Theatre this February. www.juliasiedlanowska.com

Elizabeth Willow

Elizabeth is delighted to be working with the PuSh Festival this year. Creating bonds and building a sense of community in the artistic world nationally and internationally is something she feels is integral to the survival of the arts, and she is thrilled to have the chance to be part of that work.

Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s BFA in Acting program, and you may have seen her around town in Ghosts (United Players), Love, Lust, and Lace (2016 Vancouver Fringe), Dry Land (Rumble Theatre), The Arabian Nights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Chamber Music (Theatre atUBC). Elizabeth is also passionate about writing, and her next project involves writing and developing a one-woman show. Elizabeth hopes you enjoy your time with the PuSh Festival!



Sophia Wolfe

Photo: Margaret Rejnowska
Photo: Margaret Rejnowska

Sophia Wolfe is a Vancouver based contemporary dance artist who also works in visual media including photography, film, and video art. Sophia started dancing at the age of three and completed her post secondary dance training in Vancouver through Modus Operandi, where she was featured in works by Justine A. Chambers, Out InnerSpace Dance Theatre, Wen Wei Wang and Crystal Pite.

Sophia’s dancing has lead her to tour nationally and internationally with Company 605, and has more recently worked with with independent choreographer Chick Snipper and will be touring to the Philippines with Co-Erasga in January 2017. Sophia has participated in workshops such as ImpulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival, Deltebre Danza in Spain and The Toronto Dance Community’s Love-In; training with artists/companies such as David Zambrano, Rootless Root, Frey Faust, Ame Henderson and Laura Airs.

Outside of dance performance, Sophia has created and presented video installations through Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery mentorship program. Her deep interest in dance on screen has lead her to organize and curate the first ever International Youth Festival Of Recorded Movement (F-O-R-M), which is happening for its second year in June 2017. www.f-o-r-m.ca