Briefly introduce yourself/your company…
Hey! My name is Phina Pipia! I am so stoked to take part in the Vancouver Fringe. You’ll probably see me walking around with a sousaphone (a wearable tuba), and if you do, please say hello! My background as an artist: I’ve worked as a professional dancer in NYC, as a touring magician, with the double sousaphone duo “The Pipia Sisters”, and as a multi-instrumentalist (playing tuba, double bass, and vocals) with several west coast bands. I started touring my solo show, Ha Ha Da Vinci, this spring, and am so delighted that audiences have found the show to be mesmerizing and magical. I’ve been truly having the time of my life, and am so looking forward to sharing this new work with you!
What is it that makes your work/company unique
The multi-faceted nature of the performance catches audiences’ attention: I play tuba and guitar, do magic, sing opera, and dance in the show. But there are other elements that – to me – set this piece apart. Ha Ha Da Vinci tells a story that is new to most audiences; the story of Leonardo da Vinci and his collaborator, Luca Pacioli. During the Renaissance, Luca Pacioli wrote the first book on slight of hand magic, and da Vinci illustrated that book – their story fascinates me, and it was the catalyst for the creation of the show. At its heart, the show is about the drive to create, invent, and experiment – and the show seeks to crystalize the kind of buoyant energy and inspiration you feel when you get a new idea. Lastly, Ha Ha Da Vinci is an absolute blast to perform, and I like to think that feeling of joy can be felt by the audience too.
What kind of experience do you hope audiences will have during your show?
The show is like stepping into a magical world where the unexpected occurs at every turn, where a tuba lights the way, beds make music, paintings take on a life of their own, and radios deliver hidden messages from the past.
Without spoilers, tell us what you think audiences will remember most about your show?
Audiences will leave feeling that anything is possible. Critics have called Ha Ha Da Vinci “mesmerizing” and “magical”. Mostly, I hear audiences say they feel a sense of joy and wonder that lasts long after the show is over.
What do you think is the best thing about the Fringe?
All my life a struggled to find the right words for what I make – while I work professionally as a tubist and vocalist, calling myself a “musician” never felt quite right; although I hold a degree in dance and performed with a dance company in NYC, calling myself a dancer felt too narrow; and while I spend a lot of time creating original magic effects, to call myself a magician would feel limiting. When I started doing Fringe festivals, I finally felt like I was among artists and audiences who would never ask me to put a label to what I create or what kind of performer I am. People were excited that I was making art that didn’t fit a specific category. It felt like – while in normal life I’m a bit of a weirdo – in the context of Fringe I am among people who embrace me for who I am. That’s a really, really incredible feeling.
What is the most important thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?
Audiences will leave smiling, humming the tunes from the show, wondering “how did she do that?” and feeling buoyant, dreamy, and inspired.