The Banff Centre Children's Festival

Children's Festival Dining

Don't miss the Pirate themed "Grab and Go" lunch available at Le Café ($6.50), and the outdoor BBQ at the Music and Sound Building Patio (inside option in case of bad weather is Laszlo Funtek 223). Or visit Maclab Bistro or Vistas Dining Room.

Winners from 2015 climbing competition

Celebrating 15 years at The Banff Centre, we are pleased to once again host our annual climbing challenge. Open to all ages and abilities, this event welcomes everyone who loves to climb.

Also, we are hosting a silent auction in support of the ACA's Youth Bursary. Amazing items to bid on with all proceeds going to Alberta athletes going to national and international climbing competitions and events.

The event, as always, will be a scramble format including bouldering, top rope, and lead routes. Top 7 climbs will count towards your individual ranking plus a combined score for the team ranking.

*** PLEASE BE AWARE: this competition is NOT sanctioned by the ACA for points for youth or open rankings. It is just a fun competition for everyone to particiapte in.***

This year, we have made a few changes to format to mark our 15 years in the Bow Valley:

Individual categories - $25 per climber:

  • Youth D (11 & Under)
  • Youth C (12 & 13)
  • Youth B (14 & 15)
  • Youth A (16 & 17)
  • Junior (18 & 19)
  • Adult Recreational
  • Adult Open

Team category - consists of 3 climbers who are climbing within the same climbing group, must be a mixed group with either 2 females and 1 male, or 2 males and 1 female.

There are four climbing groups and times - 25 maximum climbers per climbing group, registration 30 minutes before the start of your group:

  • 8:30am - 11:00am: Youth C & Ds
  • 11:30am - 2:30pm: Youth Bs, Youth A Females
  • 3:00pm - 6:00pm: Adult Recreational
  • 6:30pm - 9:30pm: Youth A Males, Juniors, Adult Open

To sign up, please fill out the registration form.

Awards will follow each category. Party at Maclab Bistro afterwards.

Paul Pritchard

Paul Pritchard

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Paul Pritchard was a cutting-edge rock climber and mountaineer; adventuring in the Himalaya, Karakoram, Patagonia, Baffin Island, the Pamirs, and the European Alps. He has published three books – two of which have won the Boardman/Tasker Award and one was the Banff Mountain Book competition Grand Prize winner. 

During a 1998 world mountaineering trip, Paul acquired a brain injury when a boulder fell on his head whilst climbing the Totem Pole in Tasmania. The accident resulted in hemiplegia and he lost the power of speech for many months. Since his accident, Paul has continued to lead a challenging life: climbing Kilimanjaro, lead climbing, and in 2011 he tri-cycled across Tibet to Everest Base Camp. He successfully climbed the Totem Pole again in April 2016.

Festival Content 
Hand painted Indigenous Drum

For Indigenous people, the visioning process has always been essential in preparing for the future. As Lougheed Leadership faculty Don McIntyre stated, “Visions happen in the shadowland or the dreamtime. In this space, as in our dreams, there are no rules. Everything is possible.” As the landscape changes for Indigenous communities, transforming visions into strategic plans will be essential for success. 

Strategic planning outlines where you want the organization to go, not necessarily how you are planning to get there, which is why it is the foundation to any initiative. As part of the Indigenous Strategic Planning program, participants learn to combine traditional practices and values with research and best practices to set direction and long-term goals for communities and organizations. Part of the teaching is how to bring together a group of individual and separate entities in order to form a system. This is represented with the building of a traditional Indigenous drum.

When building a drum, the pieces – hoop, hide, rope —  are unique and independent, however when you learn the importance of each item and how to bring them together you are able to create a system that has a voice and resonates with the community.

Making a strategic plan and building an Indigenous drum have a lot in common, in fact. There are three key pieces to building a drum: the rope, hoop, and hide. Similarly, a strategic plan includes three major components: the vision, mission and values.

  • VISION - The Hoop - A vision statement is the description of what an organization would like to accomplish in the future. Its purpose is to provide a clear guide and outline the direction the company is heading. Similarly, the hoop is the framework of the drum, and the foundation that will determine the final outcome based on the size and materials that are chosen to create the desired sound.
  • MISSION - The Hide – The mission statement is used to tell the world the organization’s main goal. It is what the public will hear as a declaration of the company’s purpose. The hide is the face of the drum, and what creates the sound for people to hear. Each drum is hand-painted to represent stories and personal tales. The mission statement and the hide are how the key messages, stories and rhythm can be shared with the community.  
  • VALUES - The Rope (Bundle) – Core values are the operating principles that guide an organization’s internal conduct, as well as its relationship with partners and other stakeholders. Core values are what keep the culture and objectives in place, to make sure that the mission and vision are being upheld. When building a drum, the rope is responsible for tying all of the pieces together and binding them tightly. If the ropes were to let loose, the drum would no longer make a sound. Similarly, if the values are not being upheld in a company, the mission and vision statements would no longer hold true.    

In Indigenous communities, a drum is a living and breathing object, that needs to be played in order to resonate – it can’t just hang on a wall as decoration. It’s important to think of a strategic plan in the same way; once a strategic plan is developed it cannot sit on a shelf, it needs to be implemented and part of every conversation for it to resonate and have an impact.

Strategic planning is vital in creating clear, meaningful, and reflective plans that can be powerfully communicated with the team and community at large in order to motivate and inspire. Combining traditional strategic planning and contemporary models allows communities to develop strong voices that resonate with themselves, and the world around them. 

Writer and climber Kelly Cordes talks about his book, The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre. His book, about the controversial peak in Patagonia, won the Mountain and Wilderness Literature award at the 2015 Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival. 

Listen to more episodes of this podcast here

Jody MacDonald

Jody MacDonald

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Jody MacDonald is no ordinary photographer.  For nearly the past decade, she's called a 60-foot catamaran her home as she's sailed to the wildest corners of the planet on a global kiteboarding, paragliding, and surfing expedition that's taken her to over 60 countries.  MacDonald, who was born in Saudi Arabia and has been traveling the world since she was a child, documents extreme sports, spectacular landscapes, and everyday scenes that open a breathtaking window on different cultures - from India to Mauritania to Morocco.  Jody is an award winning photographer represented by National Geographic Creative.  You can see her images in many international publications such as National Geographic, Red Bull, Outside, BBC, Patagonia, Islands, and Men's Journal, among others.

Mark Unrau

Mark Unrau

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Mark Unrau is an award winning professional photographer, co-producer with Front Range Films and the founder of Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures.  Mark's extensive travel photography has earned him international acclaim with accolades such as the Grand Prize from National Geographic Travelers' 'World in Focus' competition and awards from the 'Prix de Paris' International Photo competition.

A photographer since 1998, Mark's work has been featured internationally in magazines and articles such as Highline Magazine and Canadian Geographic.


Photo: David Cooper

In a dance studio, tucked away on the edge of The Banff Centre campus, six dancers are practicing telepathy.

“We've been trying to work on mind-reading, essentially … trying to read their body language,” says Lisa Gelley, co-director of Company 605.

The innovative Vancouver-based dance company is cloistered away in the studio this week, preparing to premiere their latest work, Vital Few, at the Margaret Greenham Theatre on Saturday.

If you ask Gelley and her co-director, Josh Martin, Vital Few has been in the works for about two years. But it quickly becomes apparent that the show truly began in 2006, with the birth of the company itself.

In Vital Few, the company explores the delicate balance of unity and individuality, and the way that a single person is influenced by the people around them. What it means to “dance together, as opposed to dancing at the same time side-by-side," as Martin puts it.

That attempt to build a gestalt whole while still maintaining individual flavour has been one of the key ideas behind the Company 605 since the beginning. The company got its start in a small Vancouver studio in 2006, a gathering of dancers looking to connect with and learn from others artists. Their backgrounds and dance styles were different — everything from ballet to hip-hop, jazz to tap — but their desire was the same.

“Just trying to find a group of people who are really motivated to make something together, it is such a huge deal,” says Martin.

Vital Few can be seen as a commentary on that. How this company of dancers has brought individual skills to its collaborations, creating something greater than any one dancer they could have done on their his or her own.

It’s a reflection that takes a lot of work, and a lot of trust, to pull off. Even though the company is spending the few days before the premiere in intense rehearsals, it can’t be entirely scripted. Much of Vital Few comes down to reading the other dancers and reacting to what they do on stage — more anticipation than memorization.

The approach is the only way to maintain unity while still allowing the personalities of the dancers to shine through.

“The core of their movement remains with the same thing, but all their eccentricities and all their habits and all their personality traits, we try to put those front and centre,” Martin says.

Photo: David Cooper

It’s also a risk — every little variation in each performance offering the chance for things to go awry. However, for a dance company that has always been hungry to trek into unexplored territory, that is it’s all part of the appeal.

"You need to be willing to see something not go as well as it once did," Gelley says.

“If we’re not pushing something, we don’t see the point.”

As much as Vital Few is related to 605’s past, it is also about the company’s future. It is in the middle of a massive shift. Many of the original members have moved on to other dance projects, although their influence remains, while new ones have come to take their place.

Gelley and Martin were two of the youngest members when they joined 605 a decade ago; Now they are two of the most senior. Vital Few represents their attempts to pass along the shared vocabulary the group has developed over the past 10 years, while still finding space for the fresh ideas new members bring with them. And exploring what they can only create at this individual point of time, with these individual dancers.

“The initial group we started with, [it] had its time working ... you can't replicate that with other people, nor should you try," Martin says.

Adds Gelley, "You have to build that new history."

Purchase tickets to the Saturday, March 5 presentation of Vital Few at The Banff Centre's Margaret Greenham Theatre. 

Musician Jess Rowland

Jess Rowland wants you to really think about the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

“For me, and I think for a lot of people, that makes us want to run screaming,” says Rowland.

“Now imagine you took that exact same sound, but instead it's a sample on a keyboard. You would probably not get the same feeling.”

In both cases what’s going on in our ear is the same, but when the sound is paired with the image of nails on a rough surface we have a stronger emotional reaction.

“I think of sound not just as what’s going in our ear, but as the vibrations in our body, physical actions and gestures, and cultural context,” she says.

A composer and artist with a day job in a neuroscience lab, Rowland is investigating what we hear and how we understand it. She spent time wrestling with this concept last month at the Banff Centre as part of the Banff Musicians in Residence program.   

“We’re not neutral, we’re not passive,” says Rowland. “To be alive is to be engaged with the world and so much of what I do is trying to help that to happen by exposing the way sound is made.”

Her latest work is a piano piece composed of all the sounds a piano makes aside from notes. It’s a feedback loop of the sound of the lid opening and closing, the pedals pumping and the keys being released.

These sounds are nearly always present in a piano piece, but the audience rarely hears them. Rowland thinks this might because they’re not really listening.

To Rowland, hearing — the physical processing of vibrations of the eardrum — is clearly distinct from listening, which is an active mental process. Differentiating the two is a major part of defining the emerging field of sound art.

The most famous piece of sound art is John Cage’s 1952 composition, “4’33.” It’s four minutes and 33 seconds of silence — or, more precisely, of audience noise in three movements. However, the field wasn’t given a name until the 1980s and didn’t take off until the arrival of mainstream electronic music.

The art form draws attention to the vast amount of noise we tune out in daily life. We tolerate poor MP3 sound quality and live in cacophonous concrete cities, rarely pausing to notice the world of sound around us.

In fact, Rowland, who teaches a class on sound art, assigns her students the exercise of just listening. She insists that, unlike vision, which she believes we’ve maxed out, our sense of hearing still has a large potential to be developed.

“I could look at that wall for 15 minutes and not have that opening of experience you would have if you tried to listen,” Rowland says.

This process of training the brain to listen is where her role as manager of a neuroscience lab feeds into her art. Her interest lies in how our brains themselves can be musical instruments, in that we all physically process sound in the same way, but how we perceive what we hear varies with the individual.

She experimented with this idea in a tribute to Alvin Lucier’s renowned sound art piece, “I am Sitting in a Room.” Lucier recorded himself speaking in a room, then continued to play and re-record that track so it took on the ambient sound of the room. Rowland took this concept, but instead fed her track through an algorithm meant to mimic the way our ears filter sound.

We all perceive the vibrations on the surface of our ears the same way, so neuroscientists have been able to build a mathematical model to recreate that process of filtering sound. Rowland took this research and used it to alter the frequencies of her sentence in the same way that our ear would. What happens after that transformation is up to our brains to parse out and understand.   

This piece was a departure for Rowland because it was a process piece, set up like a science experiment instead of composed using a musical strategy. She had an initial condition, then cycled through repeating patterns, and ended with unexpected results.

It was also different in that it was an opportunity for her to bridge the worlds of art and science. Experts often draw artificial lines around their respective fields, but Rowland says they should come together more since she uses both to understand the world.

Rowland’s work centres on this idea of disrupting normal patterns to stretch our understanding. During her 18-day stay at The Banff Centre, Rowland had a break from the persistent buzz of New York, full-time access to a piano, and the peace required to create three new works.

With each piece, Rowland hopes her audience learns to experience sound in a deeper way.

“I hope their ears get bigger.”

Harry Manx

Harry Manx

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November 21 to 25, 2016

“Mysticssippi” blues man Harry Manx has been called an “essential link” between the music of East and West, creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the Blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas. He has created a unique sound that is hard to forget and deliciously addictive to listen to.

Harry forged his distinctive style by studying at the feet of the masters, first as a sound man in the blues clubs of Toronto during his formative years and then under a rigorous tutelage with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in India. Bhatt is the inventor of the 20-stringed Mohan Veena, which has become Harry’s signature instrument.

Harry played slide guitar for many years before meeting Bhatt in Rajasthan,in fact he had been living in another part of India for many years already, but he started at the beginning under Bhatt’s tutelage, unlearning most of what he knew about playing a slide instrument. He learned Eastern scales and eventually ragas, deceptively complex and regimented musical patterns that form the basis of Indian composition. Learning the voicings of Indian music is a subtle art that comes with time. Harry spent most of twelve years in India learning that. It was later on that Harry decided to explore the connection between Indian ragas and blues scales which eventually led to the Indo-blues hybrid that has become his style.

Twitter Username 
Blues, folk, Hindustani guitar


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