Chalk it Up! returns to Vancouver after two years

The event will feature 12 contemporary dancers performing with different media elements

Chalk it Up! performer Shannon May dancing outside 45 West Hastings. (Submitted)


Chalk it Up! performer Shannon May dancing outside 45 West Hastings. (Submitted)


After a challenging year of COVID-19 impacting the performing arts industry, dance collaboration Chalk it Up! returns to Vancouver this weekend for its second performance.

On Nov. 6, the event will be offered in a hybrid format in-person at 45 W Hastings St. and online, and on Nov. 7 through live-stream only. Both events start at 7:00 pm.

Lauren Yeung and Shannon May, the co-founders of Chalk it Up!, wanted to create a space for new choreographers to perform, and in April of 2019 they did just that.

“While there’s a lot of really established and amazing choreographers in Vancouver, it’s kind of hard to find space to perform where you’re just starting out,” says May. “And then we were like, ‘well, we have this space … why don’t we use it while we can?”

In 2018, they began their dance partnership called Chalk in a shared dance studio in North Vancouver, and that’s where Yeung and May got their inspiration for the annual event.

Since then, May says this has been the third time trying to put the event together over the last year due to the pandemic and restrictions. For this showing, May says she and Yeung applied for a BC Arts Council grant to make it possible to have the proper rehearsal space for dancers.

Attendees can expect to see seven different performances, each using a different media element incorporated in their piece, such as a video projector, inspiration from a poem, and other props, Yeung says.

Juolin Lee, one of the dancers in Chalk it Up!, says she is using a mini toaster oven in her performance which was inspired by another piece she performed in 2019 using random everyday objects.

Lee has learned various dance styles such as ballet, and contemporary Chinese folk dance. She recently graduated from Modus Operandi, a contemporary dance program in Vancouver.

“I’m very excited for sure, totally terrified. And now everybody’s wearing masks so you don’t really see them,” says Lee. “You don’t really know what they’re experiencing and for me, dancing is about connecting to people, so [not being able to] read what they’re feeling is scary.”

In addition to Lee’s performance, contemporary dancer Jenna Berlyn plans to perform with her group in the dark, using headlamps.

Originally a 45-minute performance, Berlyn and her group will perform an 8-minute excerpt showing their interpretation of the stage between life and death, using the lamps as a representation of their souls.

She had the idea many years ago, but couldn’t do it until she had the time and funding to be in the studio with dancers. Now they have been able to play around with it, she says.

“It’s really fun to use. A few times when we’ve had the studio blacked out, we can send our light on someone doing a solo and it gives this really interesting stage lighting effect,” says Berlyn.

Because this is the first time Chalk it Up! has returned since pandemic restrictions opened, Yeung, May, Lee, and Berlyn say these events are important for the dance community to show the talent in Vancouver’s dance scene.

“Vancouver has a very rich contemporary dance community and we need to give these artists more ways to get their work seen,” Yeung wrote in a follow-up email sent to The Runner.

“Especially after a time where we’ve all had to go on a small hiatus … the city is ready and itching for live performances.”

To view the show in-person or virtually, contact to access a $15 ticket that can be sent through e-transfer or cash at the door.