Rock’n’Roll Karma

Since last week’s feature on the upcoming Lovers of Hendrix shows at the Electric Owl, tickets have sold out for the Friday show; I wasn’t kidding when I said tickets were going fast. I hear there are still a few tickets left for the two Thursday shows – there’s the Valentine’s dinner and show package (seating at 7 p.m., show at 7:30 p.m.), as well as the late night show (doors at 9:30 p.m., show at 10 p.m.). You can buy tickets here.

Let’s start things off by reintroducing Vanessa Young, director and producer of the show and founder of The Lovers Cabaret. You got to know her a bit last week, now it’s time to get the scoop on how this whole Lovers thing started.


photo by Leanne Dixon

Vancouver Weekly: So, Vanessa, tell me about yourself and The Lovers Cabaret.

Vanessa Young: Well, I moved here about ten months ago now, last April. I came to Vancouver with a teaching gig, thought maybe I’d stay six months, and then ended up loving it, starting the company, and deciding to stay. I love Vancouver. People breathe here, they walk, they yoga, they go out for tea rather than alcohol… I mean, they do that too, but it’s just a nice vibe. I’m from Calgary originally so I think I was destined to come back to the West. I moved here, I started The Lovers Cabaret last May, and just got the idea in my head that I wanted to do a Led Zeppelin show. That’s where it really started.

I met Ashley Sweett [assistant director and head choreographer] through the dance community and she’s… just an epic choreographer, an absolute genius with the body, and a huge Zeppelin fan so she got on board right away. The idea for Zeppelin came up really quickly and then, in the process of that, I was like – We need to make more of these shows! – because it was just already so great.

Which brings us to the present day. On the heels of the Zeppelin shows’ breakout success, Lovers of Hendrix is just around the corner.

Let’s meet some of the other Lovers.

Marlie Collins

Vancouver Weekly: So, how did you become involved with The Lovers Cabaret?

Marlie Collins: It was really just meeting Vanessa. We both worked at Cactus Club café. I knew that she was a burlesque dancer – and I’m a dancer, I’m really into the movement, flow… I guess you could say sexy style of dancing is what I like to do as well – and I was like Oh, I should meet her. I told her a little bit about who I was and then I took her classes, auditioned, and that’s how I became involved. We just became friends and clicked instantly, so, really it was by fate that we met.

Vancouver Weekly: Tell me a little bit about your character in Lovers of Hendrix.

MC: My character is a very protective character. I have a younger sister that is the world to me, and my family is the world to me. I’m a very strong woman, I’d say, but I’m not just enclosed into one type of group, I kind of have expanded my way into being friends with different types of women. So I’m kind of like a chameleon in a sense. I guess I’m kind of the common ground between the other women.

Vancouver Weekly: What’s your favourite Hendrix song?

MC: I’d say “All Along The Watchtower”. I actually travelled with Jimi Hendrix’s cousin in Malaysia. He’s coming to the show as well, Henry Brown. So I got to meet Janie Hendrix actually, Jimi Hendrix’s sister. So, this whole time I’m in Malaysia and travelling, learning all about Jimi Hendrix… It’s really weird, we sang “All Along The Watchtower”, his own version, and then I just found out all this stuff about him and his family, the real life part of it, and now I’m doing this Jimi Hendrix show, which is kind of crazy.

Rachel Routledge

Vancouver Weekly: So – Lovers, part 2. What can people expect on the Valentine’s Day performances and the crazy Friday show?

Rachel Routledge: Well, the same energy. It’s a little different than the Zeppelin show. It’s something that everybody can connect to, whether you see bits of your parents in the story, or maybe it’s just something that is timeless and that everyone can relate to… There’s dance, a celebration of Hendrix’s music, and… women!

Vancouver Weekly: How did you become involved with the project?

RR: I’ve known Vanessa since we were both living and dancing and working out in Toronto. I moved back to Vancouver about six months before she did. She got this whole project together. She had been part of the Love Letters Cabaret out in Toronto, and I’d seen all my friends involved in it and just heard everything and told her – “Whatever you’re involved in, if it’s anything like this – because I know that you bring just top-notch, amazing calibre performances, shows, I want to be a part of it, I have to be a part of it.” It’s fun to bring that spin out here. There was nothing like that out here and to be part of the show that brings that out to Vancouver, I had to be a part of it.

Vancouver Weekly: What kind of feedback have you heard about the first series of shows, the Zeppelin show and then the mandatory encore performance demanded by the throngs?

RR: People just loved the Zeppelin! The sort of… rock’n’roll karma that seemed to be happening. It seemed to be the right timing; there was the movie about Zeppelin that come right out around the same time, and everyone was just feeling it and loved it.

Vancouver Weekly: Rock’n’roll karma… that’s good. I’m gonna steal that.

[And we laughed, and laughed…]

RR: There’s also a lot of Hendrix stuff that’s coming up randomly; on Sunday, Hawaii Five-O did a show with seven previously unreleased Hendrix recordings. We had Zeppelin stuff popping up while we were doing Zeppelin, and now there’s more Hendrix stuff popping up now that we’re doing Hendrix… “Rock’n’roll karma” just seems to be an appropriate term!

Aimee Payne

Vanessa Young: Aimee was in Lovers of Zeppelin. This time around, she’s doing our mentorship program, which is a program that we do where we give an opportunity to a choreographer who is not professionally working in the industry yet to showcase their work and just learn how to a part of the production. So we teach them things about technical direction, lighting, staging, spacing. We partner them up with somebody in the show, so she’s partnered up with Ashley Sweett. Ashley gives her direction and feedback on her choreography, and then Aimee comes in for the actual process, so she’s there throughout the cue-to-cues, etc., and the technical side of things.

Vancouver Weekly: What’s the difference between your role in the Zeppelin show and the Hendrix show?

Aimee Payne: I was one of the principal dancers in the [Zeppelin] show. Yeah, it’s totally different, being now on this side of things. You go from learning from a choreographer to being one of them. I’m just used to doing my own solos for myself, and then actually having to put it on other dancers and space it and make it look visual and crowd-pleasing too… Sometimes what’s pleasing to you and what you like, an audience won’t get, right? So it’s hard to play off both of those. It’s totally a different side of things – putting your own artwork on somebody else is kind of crazy to watch. It’s like “yous” all over the place doing different things.

Vancouver Weekly: You’re doing some choreography now, you danced before – Have you always leaned towards this direction?

AP: It’s kind of crazy, because I’ve been dancing since I was three. I’m still in my professional career wanting to do “me”, but you get to a point where you have this creative mind and this artist that comes out. You start seeing things, visually, and thinking “I kind of want to put something together and put it on other people.” To me, personally, choreography helps you grow as an artist, I think. Being able to put yourself out there and put it on other dancers and watch what you had in your mind come to life, it’s kind of crazy. And then you grow, you have to think fast, you have to be able to teach and be confident and that kind of thing. I’m still in my professional dance career, but it’s good to balance the two because choreography is what takes you places in the end.

There you have it. The stage is set. You’ve been briefed. If you caught Lovers of Zeppelin last fall, you don’t need any convincing – you know what’s going down this Thursday and Friday. If you missed the first Lovers production, don’t make the same mistake again.

See you there.

All photography by Shannyn Higgins unless otherwise specified.