Dance artist Akram Khan captivated Toronto audiences when he performed at Canadian Stage this month. Khan is internationally renowned for his contemporary dance works, and for choreographing a section of the London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. DESH, his most personal work to date, is a full-length solo he first created and performed in 2011, exploring themes of identity, survival and resilience against the backdrop of Bangladesh, the homeland of Khan’s parents.
The solo opens at the grave site of Khan’s father. A combination of dance, story, mime and projected animations, the work is multilayered and complex, at times quiet and subtle, at others theatrical and grand. At its deepest level, however, the piece is a dialogue with his father, an attempt to connect with him, his culture and his history. Khan plays a cast of characters, including a young girl, his father the cook, an activist and a rebellious teenager. The stories he weaves into the dance have both tragic and comic elements, reminding us that people may indeed be fragile, but they are also resilient. Khan is fascinated by water and earth, elements which are plentiful in Bangladesh. For Khan, the idea of fluidity within form seems to be at the forefront of his work. “Bangladesh is constantly under threat with water, the cyclones and flooding,” he said in a
Time Out London article. “And yet they find new ways to live amongst the monster, the beast of nature. I feel like they’re extremely inventive in the face of such calamity and that’s something that really inspired me.” A master of character work and mime, Khan is also a beautiful and accomplished dancer. His movement vocabulary is part-Kathak (a classical Indian dance form), part-Western modern dance. The speed with which he spins and turns is something to behold—the eye cannot even fully register it. Khan dances with urgency, passionate attack and fluidity; it is an achievement of physical endurance. DESH also enjoys stunning production design by Tim Yip, the Oscar-winning production designer of
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A standout feature is the beautifully lit panels of petal-like draperies that are lowered from above near the end of the piece. When Khan dances within them it’s breathtaking. The score is also compelling, a collage of found urban sounds and melodic music from Jocelyn Pook, the award-winning composer of
Eyes Wide Shut. After the riveting performance, Khan stands centre stage and waits patiently until the crowd has quieted from its rousing standing ovation. Then he speaks to us warmly, about the piece, his family and his father, who is not, in fact, dead. The fictional device simply allowed him to explore his complicated relationship with his father and his father’s homeland. This is a beautiful way to end the evening—the choreographer as himself, grounded and authentic in his artististry.
Visit akramkhancompany.net for more information about the work of Akram Khan and the company’s touring schedule.
Want an in-demand job with a healthy future? Look no further than the skilled trades in Canada. "There is an incredible amount of opportunity in the trades industry in Canada right now," says Peter Harris, editor-in-chief of Workopolis, who reports on trends and changes in the Canadian job market.
"Trades workers need not be subject to the boom-and-bust cycles of provincial economies, because trades jobs are evergreen and also come with a great deal of freedom of mobility," he says. For example, in every city across the country, homeowners are always looking for reliable, affordable work on their homes: renovation, plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, says Harris.
Positions in the skilled trades offer another bonus: These roles are far more insulated from being sent offshore and to automation, says Harris. "[These are] the two biggest threats to many career paths," he says. Furthermore, Canada faces a shortage of one million tradespeople by 2020, as many people in that field will be retiring, he says. "The average age of welders is 57, and large numbers of trades workers across the board are also into their 50s."
Defining the "best" trade is highly subjective; it depends on where you live and what you consider most valuable: lots of demand, high pay, flexibility to set your own hours or whatever you feel is vital to a good job. That said, based on the job opportunities being posted online in the skilled trades, Harris says the most sought-after employees are in these five vocations.
1. Construction workers Whether it be working on new home construction, infrastructure (like roads) or commercial enterprises, construction workers are in high demand in Canada. Construction is considered a cornerstone of Canadian industry and it represents about seven percent of the Canadian workforce, according to the Canadian Construction Association. While positions may be plentiful, construction work is often seasonal and contract-based.
2. Vehicle repair In the past year, the number of job postings for the mechanic trades has spiked 94 percent over June 2013, says Harris. As anyone who has ever owned a car knows, auto mechanics tend to be perennially busy. According to Human Resources Skills Development Canada, this job is also called automotive service technician, helpful keywords if you're searching for post-secondary education programs, which tend to use this title instead of "car mechanics."
3. Maintenance worker Although maintenance work comprises a very broad array of specialties, these jobs are in high demand across the country, says Harris. Not just hands-on repair (although it can include these skills), maintenance work encompasses operations, planning and information management skills as well. These jobs are posted under a variety of names, such as maintenance technician, maintenance mechanic, maintenance specialist and, of course, maintenance worker.
4. Electricians Electricity is vital to life as we know it in Canada. Licensed electricians lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices and related equipment in buildings and other structures, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Electricians are highly sought-after in commercial, industrial and residential spheres. There are many positions open with electrical contractors, maintenance companies and industries, and there are also ample self-employment opportunities.
5. Heavy machinery operators (such as a backhoe, bulldozer) Wherever there's a freshly paved road or newly built construction, a heavy machinery operator isn't far behind. Operators work backhoes, bulldozers, graders and other heavy-duty construction vehicles. Another term that describes this trade is heavy equipment operator, which is the terminology post-secondary schools and colleges use to designate program offerings. Like construction work, these roles can be plentiful across the nation, but also tend to be seasonal.
Our best cooking tips for making dough and so much more!
When prepping grains (think quinoa, bulgur or rice), enhance their flavour with tea rather than the usual broth or water. Cook with your favourite brew: I prefer a full-bodied tea, such as smoky lapsang souchong, fragrant Earl Grey or aromatic chai, but you can also choose a milder green tea or herbal blend. Before adding the liquid to grains, steep black teas for three to five minutes, green for two to three minutes, and herbal for five to seven minutes—tisanes don't become bitter, so they can take a longer brewing time.
Here's a foolproof way to remove a lingering garlic scent from your hands: Rub your fingers against a stainless-steel object, like your kitchen sink or a spoon, then rinse under cool water. Garlic is packed with sulphur molecules (that's what gives it a lovely taste and a not-so-lovely smell), which scientists say can form a chemical bond with stainless steel.
Out of vanilla? Head to your liquor cabinet—Kahlúa makes the perfect replacement.
Save your parmesan rinds! Store them in the freezer (they'll keep for months), then drop them into simmering soups or sauces for an amazing flavour boost.
The next time you're making dough, instead of using a pastry blender or the two-knife method to cut in cold butter, try grating it over the flour mixture, then tossing to coat. The butter will be more evenly distributed in the flour mixture, resulting in a light, flaky crust.
Tools of the trade
Three must-have items for a well-stocked kitchen.
1. Y-peeler: The wide grip makes peeling easy, plus the blade creates perfect Parmesan shavings and vegetable ribbons.
2. Large canning jar: This kitchen MacGyver doubles as a cocktail shaker and storage for dry goods. It's also a great place to keep fresh herbs—stand your mint or basil leaves in about two inches of water and change the water daily.
3. Kitchen scissors: This gadget is a huge time-saver when it comes to chopping herbs, segmenting a whole chicken or trimming veggies.
Historian Cheryl Foggo brings the stories of important African-Canadians to life with her books, films and plays
How much do Canadians know about our country’s black history? How many people would admit to knowing little about Viola Desmond before the campaign to choose a woman to appear on the new banknote? Most of us might say our knowledge stops at the Underground Railroad or Nova Scotia’s Black Loyalists. But this country is rich with stories of African-Canadian experiences on the east coast, west coast and everywhere between. While classrooms play catch-up in diversifying history curriculums, learning the names and stories of African-Canadian men and women is a conscious effort that should no longer be set aside.
Cheryl Foggo is a playwright, historian and author who’s committed to making the names and tales of African-Canadian settlers known. Based in Calgary, Foggo actively combs archives and documents recounting the lives of Alberta’s black settlers. One of her projects is a documentary film about the legendary black cowboy John Ware, who was considered a hero in Alberta’s ranching frontier.
We spoke with Foggo about her latest projects, Alberta’s lesser-known African-Canadians and why celebrating Canada’s black history is important not just in February, but year-round.
When did you first become interested in Canada’s black history?
From a young age I was interested in the stories I heard my mother’s family tell when we visited my grandparent’s home in Winnipeg. Although I wouldn’t have defined it as history at that time—it was just my Mom and her siblings and their parents talking about their lives—I found these stories interesting. As I got older, I gradually became aware of a disconnect between the history I was learning in school and what I was hearing from my family. I began to wonder why our stories were absent from the historical record.
Why do you think Canadians don’t know much about our country’s black history?
I think it’s up to Canadians to ask ourselves this question. Even what Canadians do know about the Black Loyalists and the Underground Railroad is limited to a “happy ending” narrative and skewed away from the realities of the struggles black Canadians faced historically.
Western Canada’s black history isn’t widely known or taught. Share the story of one lesser-known African-Canadian and her contribution?
It’s tough to choose, but I’ll pick a woman from Alberta. Violet King, the first black female lawyer in Canada. She was a trailblazer throughout her life and an accomplished classical pianist. She was also the only woman in her graduating class from the faculty of law at the University of Alberta in 1953, the same class as former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed.
King went on to work for Citizenship and Immigration Canada before becoming the first woman named to a senior management position with the American National YMCA. She also happened to be among the best friends of my mother, Pauline, and her twin sister, Pearl, and a bridesmaid for both.
In your opinion why is knowing more about Canada’s diverse history so important?
A history that is incomplete is damaging. A history that is purposely incomplete is sinister. How can Canadians move into a sustainable future if we can’t acknowledge our past? And how can we acknowledge and reckon with our past if our canonical history is missing pages?
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a documentary film about the legendary black cowboy John Ware and a collection of articles and essays that will anthologize my writings about Alberta’s black history.
Can you recommend some resources for Canadians who want to learn more about Canada’s black history?
There are many ways to gain more knowledge about this subject. Here are a few places to start:
> The Black Lives Canada Syllabus
We may be approaching the end of award season, but Hollywood’s biggest night is still to come. It’s time to get ready for the Academy Awards (or whatever other big event you have planned).
Touted as the biggest night in Hollywood, stars will spend months primping and perfecting their appearance in anticipation of the Oscars. Even if you’ll be spending Oscar Sunday nestled on the couch instead of stepping out on the red carpet, you can probably appreciate the effort that goes in to looking good for a big event. Whether it’s walking down the aisle, a milestone birthday or even just an event with lots of photograph opportunities, there are occasions in our lives that we want to look our best—and pull out all the stops. The last thing you want is to be stressed out about your appearance instead of enjoying the big day.
We spoke to Victoria Radford, a makeup artist and esthetician whose handiwork you’ll be able to spot on the Oscar red carpet. Her advice? “You always look the most beautiful when you look like yourself—just enhanced. It’s important to start the process early, rather than making major changes the week before.” The the best move you can make is to give yourself plenty of time to amplify your appearance and account for some time-off. Just don’t forget to enjoy the process; remember, getting ready is half the fun.
6 months before: Consult an esthetician and hairstylist
Ideally, you want to be almost ready by the time you sit down in the makeup chair. What does this mean? Radford compares it to going to the gym: if you decide you want a 6-pack, you’re going to need to plan ahead. The same goes for skincare and hair — envision how you want to look and develop a personalized plan going forward.
Talk to your stylist about what you’d like to achieve. If this means growing your hair out long remember remember to be realistic and make note of your lifestyle. If your beauty routine is pretty low maintenance, don’t opt for hair extensions or a bob that requires heat styling every day. If you have curly or frizzy hair, Radford recommends an in salon Keratin treatments. Keratin combats frizz by bonding together all of the frizzy particles. It also prevents the hair from breaking, which is great for growing your hair out.
As for you complexion, a good morning and evening skin care routine is a great starting off point. Your skin cells renew themselves every 28 days, so to get your skin to reaching J.Lo glow levels consider going for a monthly facial in addition to having a rock solid skin care regimen. If you are looking to add volume or minimize wrinkles using injectables like Botox or Restylane, Radford insists that you do tiny tweaks over time, think of it as a sprinkle, instead of everything all at once. If this is your first time, leaving six months before the big day will ensure that any adverse reactions (either allergic or personal due to not liking the result) won’t ruin your look.
Photography by Marie Rainville
3 months before: Think about your brows
If you’re a chronic over-plucker and looking to grow out your brows, discuss with a brow technician what your ideal brow shape is. We spoke to Lexi Miles, the founder of WAXON Waxbar, who insists that your entire face changes when you have a great brow. Three months gives you three appointments to restructure your brows.
One month before: Test out beauty looks
Now is a good time to try out makeup and hairstyle looks that you think you’ll want to embrace on the day of the event. Try other beauty treatments like lash and brow tinting or eyelash extensions at this point. You’ll be able to make sure that it’s the effect you want and that there’s no allergic reaction, which sometimes can be caused by the dye or the glue.
Image provided by Vita Liberata
Two weeks before: Decide if you want a tan or a wax
If you’re after a more bronzed appearance, never get from the harmful UV rays, instead pay a visit to a professional for spray tan, or try to do-it-yourself at-home. Just make sure to pick the right tone for your skin: Light is for the fair skin, medium works for more golden skin, and dark is best for deeper and olive skin tones. Bonus: A faux-glow can also blur stretch marks and cellulite.
Miles recommends waxing before you get your sunless tan. “Waxing is a natural exfoliant,” she says. “Your tan will adhere to your skin a lot deeper and will last a lot longer. We would recommend at least 24 hours before you get a spray tan.” Just make sure to go to a wax specialist—they will help reduce pain and give you a better quality experience. How you care for your skin pre and post tan is key in determining how long your bronze lasts; Waxon's On the rocks is a 2-in-1 product that will both exfoliate and hydrate skin to ensure there's no patchiness.
One week before: Touch-ups
Book a facial or go for a chemical peel; they’re a fantastic way to eradicate dead skin cells, comedones, blackheads and plump up skin with hydration which will lessen the appearance of fine lines. It also get's the blood flowing, helps with lymphatic drainage, leaving your pores looking more refined and your skin buoyant. Now is also a good time to do final colour touch-ups. Spend the week giving your tresses extra nourishment in the form of hair masks, and avoid heat styling it so your hair will be extra healthy.
The day before: Do the things you love, again
The day before, organize a day of pampering and spend time touching up your treatments from previous outings. Whatever results you loved—spray tanning, waxing, eyelash extensions, tinting—do it as close to the occasion as possible, so they’re freshly done and looking as close to perfect as possible.
Grab someone close to you, like a friend or your mother, and schedule an appointment for a mani and pedi. It's the perfect way to de-stress, have some girl time and bring you one step closer to looking primed and polished.
Kenneth Willard/Trunk Archive
Day of: Get ready to knock ‘em dead
At this point, you’re nearly finished and there shouldn’t be much left to do. Although it sounds like overkill, it you want that red carpet celeb glow schedule in one last facial; but for those who can't make it to the salon employ a bio cellulose sheet mask that will provide as much last-minute nourishment and hydration as possible. Our favourite, the 24K Gold Mask by Victoria Radford, is formulated with colloidal gold, which takes down inflammation and encourages cellular renewal by using the same material treated on burn victims.
Want to take the all-over-glow up a notch? From Gwyneth Paltrow to Rihanna, every red carpet regular uses Prtty Peashun; a skin-firming lotion with a tint of colour for that conceals imperfections and enhances muscle definition. After that, play some music, pop some bubbly and it’s time for hair and makeup.
As always, the most important part is to relax and have fun. Feeling beautiful and confident is the goal, so enjoy whatever blessings you’re celebrating! And remember that your friends and family love you no matter what you look like.