Emerging professional dancers from Arts Umbrella’s Performance Research Project take to the stage alongside the Chor Leoni Men's Choir for three extended selections.
Emerging professional dancers from Arts Umbrella’s Performance Research Project take to the stage alongside the Chor Leoni Men's Choir for three extended selections.

It’s turning out to be a busy holiday season for Arts Umbrella. While its students are performing in Mixed Nuts at the Playhouse, over at the Orpheum the school’s emerging professional dancers will perform in Chor Leoni: Angels Dance.

At the centre of the program are two folk-inspired works. The first comes from composer Conrad Susa who draws on the culture of the American Southwest for Carols & Lullabies. In the second, Malcolm Dalglish references Appalachian shape-note singing with Star in the East.

It will be within these two pieces, plus Chor Leoni composer-in-residence Zachary Wadsworth’s brand new Two Counting Carols, where the dancers will take to the stage alongside the choir. The featured choreography comes from a trio of Vancouver dance artists: Arts Umbrella faculty members Lesley Telford and Livona Ellis, and Lamondance Arts Society’s Brandon Lee Alley.

“As we raise our voices this holiday season we are honoured to have them met with the incomparable dance and movement of these brilliant emerging dance professionals,” says Chor Leoni’s artistic director Erick Lichte.

The wide-ranging program will also include Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria and Randall Thompson’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, a new work by Vancouver musician Ed Henderson, and a Bluegrass Jingle Bells. The choir will be accompanied by pianist Tina Chang, harpist Vivian Chen, guitarist Ed Henderson, and percussionist Katie Rife.

As president and CEO of Arts Umbrella and a member of Chor Leoni, the collaboration between the two arts organizations holds special meaning for Paul Larocque.

“I’m extremely proud to bring together two organizations that I’ve been deeply involved with for close to two decades. I can’t wait to sing and see the resulting magic, and I think our combined audiences are going to love it,” he says.

Chor Leoni: Angels Dance plays the Orpheum Theatre (601 Smithe St, Vancouver) on December 21 with two performances. A music-only performance called Christmas with Chor Leoni repeats on December 22 at the West Vancouver United Church. Visit chorleoni.org for tickets and information.