“What Dances in Between, the title given to Toronto-based photographer Cylla von Tiedemann’s exhibition of dance images at the Al Green Gallery through February 9, captures the essence of the quasi-retrospective as having no strict beginning or end: a creative journey that, like the dancers in her kinetically charged photographs, is caught in mid-flight.”
Since I first worked with Sandra and Carlos at Red Sky in 2003 on “Caribou Song” while serving as General Manager at Soundstreams Canada, I have admired their choice in projects and their voice in Canada in dispelling stereotypes about native people.
There is actually a lot of vested interests on both sides in keeping those stereotypes alive but until we move past them we really can’t have understanding nor begin to work together on the social justice problems that we’d all like to see addressed effectively.
UPDATED: After a prolonged and unsettling out-pouring of outrage, Ken made an announcement that he believed the theatre needed to move on under new leadership.
I only came across this news (don’t know how I missed it) when I saw Ken Gass’s job posted on Work in Culture and wondered what the story was, had he retired, or whatever.
I just signed the petition in support of re-instating Ken. I first met Ken when I was a theatre student and a play I wrote was selected for one of Factory’s reading nights at the old JCC. At one point I was shortlisted to work with him as General Manager at the theatre and we hit it off famously and stayed in touch. I regret that I didn’t get the job but couldn’t argue with the fact that I had only a small amount of experience with facility management and the building renovations were most important at that juncture. Whatever one thinks of his particular merits, there is a more important issue: Arts Boards in Toronto need to be told that the arts public does NOT want them to treat dedicated arts leaders and staff in this fashion. Arts organizations are not US corporations and we should not be sending our arts leaders to the door with their belongings in a shoebox.
In memory of the northern Red Oak is a simple, evocative and transformative piece of art, and that’s really typical of what Prash does in art. Here’s the film. Prash can be found at http://Prashart.blogspot.com
“Oh look, we can PARTICIPATE”, exclaimed a young mom to her partner and children as they arrived at the launch point of Clay and Paper’s annual “Night of Dread” event that began and ended at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto. Volunteers helped the family outfit themselves with masks from the theatre’s assembled accessories available for sign out. Participation proved to be but one of the extraordinary components of this community arts event.
Halloween has always seemed to me a bit of a difficult holiday in modern times. Most of us no longer believe in ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. We feel guilty as parents about scaring our kids with superstition. Besides, aren’t there enough horrors in the world? When we think “okay, let’s dress up in more fanciful, happy clothes” we run into another set of dilemmas.
“A fairy princess?”
“No, no, too sexist! Gender stereo-typing, that will never do!”
“A belly-dancer? An Indian brave?”
“No, no! Cultural appropriation! What will the neighbours think!”
And what about the whole thing of “trick or treating”? In a time when so many children are overweight, we know the dangers of high carbohydrate loads on the whole system, not to mention tooth decay, do we want our kids super sugar-loaded. We fear for their safety on dark streets at night. It’s just hard to celebrate the tradition anymore.
How do we update this late autumn holiday in a way that is meaningful to modern times without causing the wincing feeling that we are going against our core values or exposing our children to harms of various sorts? Clay and Paper Theatre has crafted an annual event that keeps the core components of Halloween, while avoiding all of the baggage. Their creativity has resulted in a new celebration in harmony with the season and our actual lives.
Halloween is a festival for a time when the days are becoming darker and primitive people might have worried that the sun was dying. It is a time of fears and shadows. Some of the oldest civilizations had traditions of building fires on hillsides to feed the sun and wearing disguises to fool malevolent spirits.
In our modern world there are shadows of fears that haunt all of us in our dark moments. Near the gardens in Dufferin Grove Park, Clay and Paper Theatre had set up a garden of fears. Economically (and humorously) using pizza boxes on sticks, they had emblazoned the boxes with modern fears: nuclear annihilation, global warming, bio-hazards, isolation, losing a home, bankruptcy, financial ruin, war… and so on. What a fantastic opportunity for family dialogue as people moved about the garden of fears and chose which fear to pluck from the garden and carry in the parade as representative of that individuals worst fear this year.
Masks were black and white papier mache creations that, to me, symbolized the dark and light in all of us, in the changing seasons and our world. Walking about among us as we selected our fears to carry and our black & white masks to wear (if we chose to wear a mask) were a collection of giant puppets representing some of our fears. I was struck in the gut by the representation of pollution. She was a giant blue puppet with a serenely beautiful appearing face and flowing blue silken fabric, horrendously littered with bits of plastic garbage bags and excretions of fast food containers, drink cups, plastic water bottles and straws. Some of the huge puppets were a bit more mysterious and we didn’t quite know what they were representing until the end of the event.
A bugle call and drum roll signaled the assembly of the march and about 1,000 people or more set out following as we paraded our fears through the streets of Toronto. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people who came out of houses and stores to watch the passing march. Some were delighted and seemed to know what to expect. Others were extremely puzzled, even a little worried. It was a long enough route that children were wanting to be carried by the end of the journey so families with young kids are advised that a stroller or wagon will likely be required at some point in the trek.
Back at the Dufferin Grove Park we walked along a path of shrines. This lacked any explanation but it seemed to me that they were shrines erected to things lost in the past, a loved pet, a farm. Made from the simplest of materials they were reminiscent of Day of the Dead shrines built on grave sites.
We walked towards a bonfire in the middle of a circle of people. Here the fears we had carried through the dark night streets were burnt in a warming sacrificial fire. The crowd cheered the burning of the fears. The giant puppets representing major fears like “Corruption & Greed” “Nuclear Annihilation” were introduced as they did their final macabre dance around the fire. With a fanfare of humorously discordant circus music, the “Fear of the Year” was introduced. In this year’s case that was “The fear of selfish leadership” represented here in Toronto appropriately by a giant gravy boat. The artistic reference was to our hapless Mayor Ford who promised to save billions from the city budget by cutting the “gravy” and then his hired consultants couldn’t find any such gravy. His attempts to instead define libraries and culture as gravy have met strong citizen opposition. The gravy boat was taken on a last lurching voyage. The responsive creativity of the team at Clay and Paper Theatre added a last minute touch drawn from the latest headlines as a Margaret Delahunty lookalike pursued the gravy boat on it’s final voyage to the fire. A great cheer rose up from the crowd as the final great fear went up in a tower of flame.
Death dancers waltzed around the bonfire as our fears burned. Only the fear of death which can never totally leave us remained alive. The figures of death beckoned to the crowd to come and dance with death. The message to my understanding was that only when we learn to dance with death are we truly alive. The circle of dark and light, yin and yang came into focus in this conclusion, sombre, meditative and graceful. Then exploded into light with fire twirlers and jugglers harking back to a primitive time where warmth and light drove away the terrors of winter and darkness.
What a wonderful achievement and gift to the people of Toronto. My one and only suggestion to the creative team is that they lost people at the conclusion due to the length of the march. It was a very cold night, so that was also a factor. Some great entertainment was available at the end and I would have liked to stay and dance but like many others I was freezing and very tired so we packed up at the conclusion of the fire twirlers.
The first round of the Difference Engine Initiative, a six week gamemaking incubator for women, is nearly over and we will be presenting the games that they made at this Hand Eye Society Social for the community to play!
Most of the creators will be in attendance and Mare Sheppard, co-coordinator of the DEI, will be hosting the evening. In addition to the usual drinking and chatting, this Social also features a special guest from Chicago, Erin Robinson, who will be doing a presentation touching on her experiences as a game developer (including Puzzle Bots and the freeware Nanobots) as well as her role helping highschool girls make games.
The first and second rounds of the Difference Engine Initiative are part of the OMDC-funded TIFF Nexus.
Denisov, EdisonSonata for alto saxophone and violoncello (1995)
Vustin, AlexanderMusique pour l’ange (1995)
Russia, b. 1943
Oehring, HelmutLeuchter (aus: kurz in Müll gestochert) (1994/2011)
Germany, b. 1961
Karassikov, VadimCasus in terminus (1994)
Russia, b. 1972
Contact Contemporary Music members M
ary-Katherine Finch and Wallace Halladay curate a concert of music for saxophone and violoncello.From beauty to vulgarity, and from the sacred to the profane, these two virtuoso musicians present an intimate programme at Gallery 345.
One of the Soviet composer Edison Denisov’s last works highlights the lyrical qualities of the two instruments.As Denisov said, “Beauty is the principal factor in my work. This means not only beautiful sound…but beautiful ideas as understood by mathematicians.”The programme includes the works of Russian followers of Denisov: the religious transcendence of Vustin (with guest percussionist Ryan Scott), and the stoic expressionism of Karassikov (with CONTACT pianist Allison Wiebe).
The music of German Helmut Oehring is some of the most interesting to emerge from East Berlin – with late training in classical music, this electric guitarist explores sound and vulgarity in his musical description of Fred Leuchter – Holocaust denier and designer of instruments of capital punishment.Allison Wiebe will spend the intermission preparing the piano to join the duo again.
Vancouver-based composer Dorothy Chang’s Walk on Water provides the title for the concert, and fellow Canadian Robert Lemay was inspired to write this dynamic duo a work for this occasion.
Saxophonist Wallace Halladay captures the qualities of the modern virtuoso, being at home in numerous styles, from the traditional to jazz and beyond. A specialist in the performance of contemporary music, he has commissioned and premiered numerous works. A soloist with the Vancouver Symphony and Esprit Orchestras, he also inaugurated the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s “Intersections” Series. He recently worked with Philippe Leroux on the North American premiere of his saxophone concerto in Montréal. He recorded the two saxophone Sequenzas of Berio and the Colgrass concerto for NAXOS and is in demand as a performer with new music groups across Canada and the US.Wallace holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music, and studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Arno Bornkamp. Wallace was the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Virginia Parker Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts, the first woodwind player to be awarded in its 25-year history.Wallace is a Conn-Selmer Artist and plays Selmer (Paris) saxophones.
Cellist Mary-Katherine Finch holds both Bachelor and Master degrees in performance from the University of Toronto. She performs frequently in recital with pianist Ron Greidanus. Playing an authentic baroque cello, she has appeared with Aradia, Baroque Music Beside the Grange, Grand River Baroque Festival and Toronto Masque Theatre. In the area of new music, she regularly collaborates with the ensembles Toca Loca and Ergo, and has premiered several chamber works of Canadian composers. Mary-Katherine frequently plays with the larger ensembles of the Mendelssohn, Isler, Amadeus and Elora Festival Choirs.
On Saturday September 10th, The Cheshire Unicorn will be hosting a Burlesque and Fashion Show Fundraiser to help raise money for their upcoming production, Infinitum.
Along with inspirational BURLESQUE and AERIALS SILKS performances by their talented and sexy cast, attendees can witness and participate in an exciting INFINITY AUCTION and cutting-edge THAI TEXTILE FASHION SHOW, all bought directly from the seamstresses themselves. In addition, there is promises of CHEAP DRINKS, MUSIC and DANCING!
Special guest burlesque performers include: RED HERRING as well as BILLIE BLACK from Les Coquettes!
So come out and support local theatre—it will be a night you won’t want to miss.
$10 for admission. Show starts 8PM sharp. Happy hour from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm! 19+ only.