VCA pulls out the stops to entertain, enlighten islanders

Upcoming VCA productions will showcase the vision of acclaimed international and regional artists.

To close out the month of January, and begin February with a bang, Vashon Center for the Arts will present several productions showcasing the vision of acclaimed international and regional artists.

For vacation-starved islanders, it’s a chance to see the world, feed their minds and feast their eyes and ears. Here’s what’s in store.

Whim W’him — Seattle Contemporary Dance

The acclaimed Seattle dance company will present “Winter 2022,” its latest program of original works, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, in VCA’s Kay White Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The production will feature the debuts of choreographers Ethan Colangelo and Jakevis Thomason, as well as a creation by the company’s director, Olivier Wevers.

Wevers began his ballet training in his childhood home in Belgium. After years of performing with classical and contemporary companies across the U.S. and as a principal dancer for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Olivier founded his own company in 2009.

Since then, Whim W’Him has premiered 75 new works by 37 different choreographers — dances focused on story-telling and movement exploration.

Olivier has received the City of Seattle’s Mayor’s Arts Award and the Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship. Twice, his work has taken home the grand prize award at the Annual Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in California, and he has also been singled out by Dance Magazine as one of its “25 to watch.”

Whim W’Him’s ongoing affiliation with VCA has been fostered by the organization’s current executive director, Allison Halstead Reid, who was appointed in 2019.

Slava returns to Vashon

VCA will welcome back acclaimed Russian classical pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov (or “Slava,” as he’s known to friends), at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 29.

Gryaznov has performed to great acclaim throughout the U.S., Russia, Japan, and Europe, including Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonie. He studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory for his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, and earned the Yale School of Music’s Artist Diploma in 2018. He is on the faculty of the Moscow State Conservatory.

Gryaznov, who is renowned for his musical transcription of classical works for solo piano, played his island debut in 2019, having been invited by local musicologist, Michael Tracy. That performance began a growing friendship between Gryaznov and VCA, which has brought the musician back whenever possible.

“I like everything about Vashon,” Gryaznov said, in an interview for The Beachcomber in 2021. “The people who are working hard to make the world better, an educated and attentive audience, a quite special concert space and a coffee shop right across the street — what more could I wish for?”

Small Island Big Song

This musical journey, performed by eight musicians and vocalists from the nations of New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papa New Guinea and Tahiti, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31.

Billed a show for the whole family, “Small Island Big Song,” celebrates the idea that all islands are connected by the waters that divide them — while sharing the soul and seafaring heritage of the island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Organizers said that the show also confronts the impacts of climate change head-on, as the performers and youth ambassadors share their perspectives on the environmental, political, social and cultural contexts of their homes and the oceans that surround them.

In this same spirit, 50% of the net profits from the ensemble’s self-titled Fair Trade Music Release go back to the artists and non-government organizations. All physical albums are packaged in a specially designed handmade paper envelope made from Tapa bark and sugarcane fiber, including no single-use plastic.

Vashonites can find out more about the show and the artists who will perform it at, where the perspectives of some of the performers are shared.

“In our globalized, computerized world, music can bring us awareness of who we are, our history and our values and our connection to nature. I bring what my grandfather poured into me,” said performer Yoyo Tuki, of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island.

Talk on the Rock

While the Studio Museum of Harlem is closed for remodeling, art historian Rebecca Albiani will serve as the audience’s personal docent as they browse the museum’s collection virtually, discussing works by Black artists from the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement, to the present day. The talk will take place at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, at VCA.

Shaymus Hanlin Quintet

Jazz crooner Shaymus Hanlin will bring his velvety pipes to a performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, at the Kay White Hall.

Hanlin, who grew up in Portland, Oregon, has performed at such venues as the Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival to Sacramento Hot Jazz Jubilee, and throughout Mexico with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Get tickets for all the shows at The Kay White Hall is equipped with state-of-the-art, high-filtration dynamic airflow ventilation. Audiences are advised to visit the VCA website before visiting the VCA campus to familiarize themselves with the arts center’s most current COVID protocols.