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Port Moody mayor to open youth arts festival on Friday

Dance, music, visual art and film will be featured by Tri-City teens this week at the second annual Port Moody Youth Arts Festival.

Dance, music, visual art and film will be featured by Tri-City teens this week at the second annual Port Moody Youth Arts Festival.

The two-day event - held as part of the city's centennial celebrations - is being organized by the Port Moody Arts Centre society board members Hilary Letwin and Fitnat Fahrner, with the help of Susan Ius who was involved in the inaugural gala last year. Letwin said they tried to offer a varied program to attract a larger audience and "I think it's going to be a really good showcase in terms of the different groups out there in our community," she said.

For the two dozen or so participants, aged 13 to 18, the festival will be a good platform to promote their talent, to make connections with their peers and to build their resumes. "It's really empowering for them," Letwin said.

And for kids in the crowd, "This is a good opportunity for them to see what teenagers are doing in the arts and in a professional setting. They can really learn from them."

Working on a shoestring budget, the organizers have had help from the city, corporate sponsors - including The Tri-City News - and volunteers to get the event off the ground. There will be plenty of goodies handed out such as door prizes and iPads. As well, on Friday when Mayor Mike Clay opens the festivities, Rocky Point Ice Cream is donating $1 from the sale of each cone to the festival for its operations.

The Port Moody Youth Arts Festival runs Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Port Moody city hall. Admission is by donation.

Shen shares her passion for the arts

While Port Moody secondary student Lucy Shen will be on stage on Friday, she won't have any song or dance routine to entertain the audience.

Instead, Shen will use her background as a public speaker to introduce the performers.

Being picked to emcee "is really cool," she said, "because I really love the arts and I think that it's important for young people to have an opportunity to display their talent in a public forum," she said.

Besides the arts, the Grade 12 student is also passionate about social justice causes. In March, with her PMSS friends, she founded Dare to Dream, a club that promotes gender equality around the world.

In three months, it raised $400 for the Vancouver Women's Shelter at a film festival.

And next year, she hopes to collect money for a local cause: the Tri-Cities' Transition Centre that helps women and children flee abuse.

Ska-funk is in their blood

Three years ago, while playing in their middle school concert band, drummer Eric Bates and bassist Mac Halvorsen founded ADOB.

They soon recruited Theoren Nesbitt for guitar and, a little while later, Francis Henson was brought in for vocals and guitar.

The band was just for fun until they clinched the top prize in a provincial-wide contest for youth bands last year.

"After that we thought, 'We should keep doing this,'" Henson said.

Since then, the Grade 11 students have been staple performers at their school - Port Moody secondary - and jamming every chance they can get.

"We like to perform. It's one of our strengths as a band. We're just four friends who like to play together," Henson said.

The foursome write original ska-funk songs but also like to keep their sets current with covers.

They will open Saturday's line-up with a 30-minute program, "keeping it as lively and fun and entertaining as possible," Henson said.

And he hopes the festival audience "will find us on the internet and join our fan base. We also hope to talk to them afterwards and get to know us better."

Four pieces on show

Shawna Lee was in Grade 4 when she first saw a gallery of children's art by Tri-City art teacher Evelia Espinosa.

"I thought, 'Wow, if they can do it then so can I,'" said the 15-year-old Coquitlam resident.

Over the years, she plied her craft and is now being taught privately by painter Melanie Cossey as well as at her school, Archbishop Carney regional secondary in Port Coquitlam, under the direction of Linda Reis.

Lee primarily works with acrylics and oils and, for the Port Moody Youth Arts Festival, she will have four pieces on display in the city hall Galleria: an 18-by-24-inch oil reproduction of Hunter Bonyun's Matter of Time; two acrylic works; and eight slides done pencil crayon, depicting the stages of strawberries being eaten.

Lee said she decided to apply to the festival after one of her friends played music at the event last year.

"I thought, 'Why not? I can do it, too. It's a great way to get young artists known in the community and to showcase what I've been working on for the past couple of years,'" she said.

Student songbird

"Music has always been really important for me," Julia Montgomery starts.

"It's one of the biggest driving forces behind everything I do so whenever I get an opportunity to share it with the world, I want to jump on that because I think it's really important."

Now 15, Montgomery said she started vocal lessons when she was in Grade 6 "after my parents finally wore down and let me take them," she said with a laugh.

But while she has been studying musical theatre privately at the Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts in Coquitlam, under Elaine Lindbjerg, Montgomery has also been penning alternative tunes of her own.

Her 15-minute set on the Inlet Theatre stage on Friday night will be a combination of pop, musical theatre and her original songs.

Montgomery said she's grateful for the festival committee for providing "a deeper appreciation for the arts and all the talent that's in Port Moody - especially from the younger people."

Cultural shakers

This will be Lia Fallah's second time performing at the Port Moody Youth Arts Festival but the first time with a group.

Last year, the Gleneagle secondary student did a solo number that wowed the crowds. "I enjoyed it so much," the Grade 12 student said. "Of course, I wanted to come back!"

For this year's set, Fallah will be joined by her friends Gabrielle Stocker and Courtney Baines who will dance a wedding celebration to an Iranian groove.

Fallah, who portrays the bride, choreographed the number with her mother and stitched the costumes.

She is a little nervous that Anahita will close the festival on Saturday but is also excited at the opportunity.

As for their next steps, Anahita will learn Irish and Scottish jigs. "We want to know the techniques and styles of all the cultural dances, all over the world," Fallah said.


Friday: Deanna's Lovers (rock band); Prevailing Westerlies (acoustic band); Julia Montgomery (singer); Bad Seed Productions (film); A Rainy Day Play (actors); Forfeit the Anchor (rock band)

Saturday: ADOB (ska-funk band); Alluvium (indie-rock band); Bluesmoke (blues/jazz/folk/rock band); Mikhalva (acoustic duo); Vanessa Mansfield (creative writer); Sean Tan's Timeless (film), Anahita Dance (dance)

Visual art (until July 29 in the Galleria): Gloria Han, Janet Li, Jiaming Li and Shawna Lee