PuSh Community Questions with PuSh Board Member Cicely Belle Blain
February 07, 2020
1) For how long have you been involved with PuSh? Since when have you been attending the festival?
I have been on the board since fall 2019 but have been attending the festival for about 3 or 4 years.
2) What do you most enjoy about PuSh?
I love the variety and diversity of shows. I love that the festival is not shy to bring exciting, weird, wonderful and quirky art from all over the world. There’s nothing traditional about PuSh and I love that. As a young person in Vancouver, I always look forward to the festival because it’s so experimental and dynamic and really mixes up the art scene. PuSh really tries hard to bring a lot of world or Canadian premieres to Vancouver and I think that’s so necessary and cool!
3) Can you tell us about a show at this year’s festival that has particularly resonated with you?
I really loved Frontera, Old Stock and She, Mami Wata and the Pussy Witch-hunt. I think my favourite was Old Stock because of the way it almost uncomfortably fused humour, with drama, with death, with the trauma of migration, with love and family. It was a story so relatable to anyone who has immigrated or is descended from immigrants. I began the show throwing my head back in laughter and ended it with tears down my face, largely due to Ben Caplan’s incredible ability to move the audience in so many ways. It’s a beautiful and complex and confusing thing to live in Canada, where everyone who is not Indigenous is an immigrant (by choice or force) and I think this show is such an important homage to that reality. Whether in past or present, so many of us have experienced “othering” based on our ethnic background, religion or skin colour and that made this show so relatable to everyone.
4) Has anything you’ve seen at PuSh 2020 surprised or challenged you?
FRONTERA really challenged me. When I watch dance I typically see hip hop or street dance, which while it has a narrative is much more about the movement and the beat itself. FRONTERA was that and more – it was a story, a political commentary, a conversation, a revolution. I wanted so badly to understand every action or scene or light play but I didn’t. And I guess that’s the point! The privilege I have means I will never truly understand what it means to cross a guarded border.
5) If you could take any 3 PuSh 2020 artists to dinner who would you choose and where would you take them?
I would take d’bi young anitafrika, Carmen Aguirre and Quelemia Sparrow to my house and make them peanut goat curry and talk about our respective ancestors and their resistance!
Most urgently, Cicely Belle is a Black liberation activist. Through activism, education, consulting, writing, art and sometimes over cocktails, Cicely Belle lives to make radical change for the inclusion of marginalized and intersectional communities, namely Black, femme and LGBTQ+ peoples. Recognized as one of Vancouver’s 50 most powerful people and BC Business’s 30under30, they are committed to transformative justice, compassionate community building and laughter at the core of it all. Born and raised in the UK, France and the Netherlands, they are now a settler on stolen Coast Salish lands. Cicely Belle’s first book debuts in 2020 with Arsenal Pulp Press and they are an instructor in Executive Leadership at Simon Fraser University. They are full of big Sagitarius energy and obsessed with pink, dinosaurs and sci-fi.