Photo: Juan Contreras 



A co-presentation with the 2018 Vancouver International Dance Festival

Premiere: March 1-3, 2018
Duration: 45 minutes

Choreographer/Performer: Amber Funk Barton
Set Design: Andreas Kahre
Styling and Costumes: Jean Okada
Lighting Design: Mike Inwood
Original Music and Sound: Marc Stewart
Dramaturg: Heather Laura Gray
Rehearsal Direction: Lina Fitzner
Production Manager: Philomena Sondergaard

"We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff."                   -Carl Sagan

The rhythm of the body is relentless and its relationship to the universe is constant. The properties found in our blood and bones are also present in the stars. Inspired by personal travels and universal space, VAST is an ode to the explorer that resides in all of us, the traveler and the dreamer who wonders what resides beyond the edge.  It is a singular expression of an individual’s choice to be by oneself, a meditation on our limitations as human beings and how despite these limitations we still desire to propel ourselves forward into unknown territory.

To request a Technical Rider please email

The Response Dance Society would like to acknowledge the support of The City of Vancouver, the British Columbia Arts Council, New Works, The Landing Dance Centre, The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, The Massey Theatre, Arts Umbrella, Electric Aura and Dance Victoria in the creation, development and presentation of VAST.

The Response Dance Society would like to thank all those that contributed to the premiere of VAST:

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Biographies of VAST

Amber Funk Barton -Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer

Born and raised in Vancouver, Amber received her training with Goh Ballet Academy, Arts Umbrella, The Banff Centre Dance Training and Ballet British Columbia’s Mentor Program. Upon completion of her training, she established herself as a professional dance artist in Vancouver and has danced for various companies and choreographers, including: Joe Laughlin (Joe INK), Gail Lotenberg (LINK dance), Judith Marcuse (Judith Marcuse Projects), Lola MacLaughlin (Lola Dance), Martha Carter (Marta Marta Productions), Jennifer Mascall (Mascall Dance), Day Helesic (MovEnt), Lee su-feh (battery opera), Karen Jamieson (Karen Jamieson) Dance Company), Josh Beamish (MOVE: the company), Dana Gingras (Animals of Distinction), Ruckus Company Productions, Adam Shankman, Mark Godden, Marla Eist, Jennifer Clarke, Emily Molnar, Wen Wei Wang, Cori Caulfield, Lina Fitzner and Heather Laura Gray.  She has also been featured as a guest artist with Company 605 and recently performed in Neworld Theatre’s King Arthur’s Night.

As a choreographer Amber has had her work presented in various venues in Vancouver, across Canada, and internationally at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales and the NW New Works Festival in Seattle, WA. In 2005, Amber was named the inaugural recipient of the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award. In 2014, Amber had the immense privilege of collaborating with Director Mindy Parfitt and the theatre company Horseshoes & Hand Grenades to choreograph for the Jessie Award winning production of This Stays in the Room.  This also led to her first creative collaboration in theatre with Mindy resulting in the 2016 premiere of am a.

 In 2008, Amber established her own Vancouver based contemporary dance company, the response.

Philomena Sondergaard – Production Manager
Philomena is a Vancouver based Production/Stage Manager.  She is experienced in management for live events, corporate and theatre, but her passion lies in the world of dance stage and production management.  Notable credits include, Betroffenheit, Kidd Pivot & Electric Theatre Company Theatre; Feasting on Famine, Shay Kuebler Radical System Art; Solo|Soul, Karen Jamieson Dance; Mother Tongue, Wild Excursions; VAST, The Art of Stealing, WorkSpace, Status Quo, the response. ; Little Mermaid, Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Addams Family and Shrek the Musical, Align Entertainment;  I Love Mondays, Theatre Terrific; Hello Dolly and The Will Rogers Follies, Royal City Musical Theatre.

 Marc Stewart – Original Music and Sound
Marc is a Vancouver-based composer, sound designer, musician and songwriter. Beginning with the Royal Conservatory of Music and moving through to pop and experimental sounds, he has been creating music for over 25 years. Recent commissions include: Tara Cheyenne Performance (I Can't Remember The Word For I Can't Remember), Amber Funk Barton/the response (VASTSurrender, The Art of StealingCaught In AmberPortraits And Scenes Of Female Creatures), Dancestreams Youth Dance Company Port Alberni (Objects In Mirror), Tara Cheyenne Performance (How To Be, Porno Death CultHighgate). 

Andreas Kahre – Set Design
Andreas Kahre is an interdisciplinary artist, musician and designer whose work combines images, sound and text in a variety of configurations. He studied visual art, art history and film at UBC and has collaborated on more than a hundred projects with theatre, dance and music ensembles across Canada and internationally. His work encompasses interdisciplinary performances, audio installations, and collaborations as scenographer, set and sound designer with many Canadian dance and theatre companies, including long associations with Lola McLaughlin and Radix Theatre. Andreas was a director/curator at the Western Front, has taught at UBC and SFU, and is currently editor of Dance Central.

 Lina Fitzner – Rehearsal Director
Lina Fitzner received her training at both Arts Umbrella and Ballet BC's Mentor Program. Since her graduation in 2001, Lina has worked with many Vancouver based Companies as a dancer and rehearsal director, and touring internationally. In 2003, she began teaching dance to young artists at Arts Umbrella, and found her passion. Working with students of all ages as they discover their confidence and artistic voice. Lina was on the faculty at Vancouver Film School for 5 years, working with post-secondary acting students as well as a Facilitator for "Move It!", an all ages, community dance, workshop project with Joe Laughlin of Joe Ink. In January, 2017, Lina joined the storytelling team at Forbidden Vancouver, a historical walking tour company, linking her passion for history and performance. 

Heather Laura Gray - Dramaturg
Heather is an actor, dance artist and choreographer who first began acting at a very young age. Besides performing in plays, musicals (on and off screen) she has trained with a large variety of master instructors in Vancouver and Toronto. (Gina Chiarelli, Janet Lane Green, Kevin Mc Cormick, Michelle Lonsdale Smith, Kate Twa, Miriam Lawrence, Martin Cummins, Marvin Karon and Natalie Therriault).  She has rehearsal directed and been a dramaturg for Amber Funk Barton and Kim Sato.  In 2019, Heather will be choreographing a new work with Ballet Kelowna.

 Heidi Quicke – Stage Manager
Heidi is a Freelance Stage, Tour and Production Manager who works with professional dance and theatre artists to bring the show they picture in their minds to the stage. After growing up studying music, theatre and dance performance, she has happily built a career backstage.  Having trained and worked in Stage Management and Technical Theatre concurrently, Heidi brings a unique blend of technical, management and interpersonal skills to every project and is known for her artful and sensitive show calling. Heidi is very grateful to live and work on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Nations.

Mike Inwood - Lighting Designer 
Mike’s lighting design work has been seen in theaters throughout North America and Europe. In addition to VAST, Mike has had the pleasure of collaborating on several designs with Amber Funk Barton, including: The Art of Stealing, Portraits and Scenes of Female Creatures, and Threefold.  Past international designs include the New York premieres of Saudade, Surface Properties, and Pierced with Joshua Beamish, Pandæmonium with Nichole Canuso Dance, and Idyll with Kate Weare. Mike premiered Korhan Basaran’s A Kin Dof Beau Ty in Istanbul, Turkey, and productions of Forest of Kings and PIXOM in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with Dzul Dance.

 Jean Okada - Costume Design
Jean Okada is a Vancouver-based designer specializing in tailoring and technical activewear. She has made textile-based work for artists Rodney Graham, Geoffrey Farmer, Shannon Oksanen, as well as costuming for Amber Funk Barton (the response.) and OURO Collective. She was the design director for lululemon lab (2012-2015), and is currently a Senior Designer at Aritzia and instructor at Emily Carr.

Ken Reckahn - Technical Director
Ken has worked in dance for nearly 20 years, starting his career in Toronto. He has toured, lit and stage managed all sorts of dance artists and companies.   He presently works at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. 


Photo: Clancy Dennehy

Photo: Clancy Dennehy