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Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder with Performing Arts

Performing Arts to Beat S.A.D.

Here in the colder climes, I can think of no better way to stave off seasonal affective disorder than by experiencing performing arts. I find them inspiring, and on stage, January is anything but blah in Toronto this year. So here's a bit of a mash up of some of the interesting shows coming up in the very near future. I intend on checking out as many as I can, (weather permitting, and so on,) so reviews may and should trickle in later.

Next Stage Theatre Festival
January 6 - 17 at the Factory Theatre

I'm somewhat remiss in my timing, in that the Next Stage Theatre Festival, is opening as we speak here on January 6. Next Stage is billed as Toronto's "fastest rising industry showcase". Produced by the Toronto Fringe Festival people, showcases productions that have premiered at Canadian Association of Fringe Fesitivals' member Festivals (did you catch that?). Executive Director Gideon Arthurs explains, "We launched Next Stage in response to a pressing need in our community: emerging artists aren't being given the opportunity to take their work beyond the summer festival circuit, despite being critically or commercially successful." The cause is worthy, and so are the offerings, including:
  • Icarus Redux - a modern explosion of the classical myth in an Axis Mundi (formerly Open Season Theatre) production that garnered high praise at this year's Toronto Fringe (image is of the Fall of Icarus by Peter Paul Rubens)
  • Just East of Broadway - by Nicholas Hune-Brown and Ben King, the people who brought you LOTR: The Musical, a silly, funny musical that takes place in the People's Republic of China
  • Buried - by Tessa King, directed here as it was at its first reading at Tarragon Theatre by Andrew Lamb, who's also directing My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, which just had a run with Mirvish in November and will be back due to popular demand in February.
+ 5 more - check the website for complete details!

The Thundering Roar
Mi Young Kim Dance Company
January 8 & 9 - Toronto Centre for the Arts

This is the second in a two part series the Mi Young Kim Dance Company began with a performance in November focused on traditional dances. This time around, the show is dedicated to experimental work. Mi Young Kim will perform Monk's Dance, a piece she developed after more than a year of research on Korean Buddhist dance and rituals, and in other pieces, she teams up with dancer/choreographer Sashir Zarif in a collaborative work based on the shamanistic cultures of Korea and Iran - there'll be cymbals and drums, B-boys from the Hip Hop Symphony and more. Sounds unique!

Full Bloom
The Young Centre, Distillery District
January 12 - 17

Full Bloom is an all male dance review that - not surprisingly - looks at the male experience, from fatherhood to aging to the male role in dance itself. The show is choreographed by Robert Glumbek, Kevin O'Day and Luches Huddleston Jr., and got its world premiere at Ballet Mannheim (Germany) in October, where O'Day is Artistic Director. Huddleston is an an alumni of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, among many others, and Glumbek has choreographed for the Finnish National Theatre and Pro Arte Danza in another CV that's too long to list here. All in their 40's, they're joined on stage by Roberto Campanella, a fixture on Toronto's dance scene and choreographer/Artistic Director of ProArteDanza. It's being billed as a "personal and intimate journey", and these guys have definitely got all the right stuff - it got impressive reviews in Germany and I'm expecting big things here too.

January 22 - 24 at the Harbourfront Centre

You can cram in a veritable cornocupeia of dance all in one weekend, all at Harbourfront when the area's finest companies put it on for the people. What I really like about the idea is that you get a wide variety of styles - as their promo tells us "from contemporary, b-boying and ballet, to bellydance, Bharatanatyam, jazz, flamenco and African.". The shows run in 20-25 minute sets, and include well known companies like Ballet Creole and Ballet Jorgen, along with lesser known names. Time to gorge on dance!

Billy Bishop Goes to War
Soulpepper Theatre - Young Centre
Previews from January 22, opening night January 26 - February 27

It first opened in 1978 in Vancouver and it's toured the world since then, but Billy Bishop still packs 'em in with a story about war that transcends time. This version features the venerable (and delightful) Eric Peterson as Bishop (along with King George V and 16 other characters,) and John Gray as the Narrator and Pianist. Directed by Ted Dykstra, this production got rave reviews last time it played in town.

About the photos: "two dancers" by Barry Goyette, December 29, 2007 & Ballet Dancer by Stano Novak, 2006.


What Else Is Hot This Week?

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …

Polina Semionova to Appear as Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre

From a media release:


New York - Polina Semionova, a principal dancer with Berlin State Opera Ballet, will debut as a Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre for the 2011 Metropolitan Opera House season, it was announced January 14, 2011 by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie. With ABT, Semionova will perform Kitri in Don Quixote at the matinee on Saturday, May 21, opposite David Hallberg as Basilio, and the dual role of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake on Saturday evening, July 2, opposite Hallberg as Prince Siegfried.

Born in Moscow, Semionova studied at the Bolshoi Ballet School before joining the Berlin State Opera Ballet as the company’s youngest principal dancer. Her repertoire with Berlin State Opera Ballet includes Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya in La Bayadère, Marie in The Nutcracker, Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Swanilda in Coppélia, Kitri in Don Quixo…

So You Can't Go: Six Ways To Travel Virtually

So You Can't Go:
Six Ways To Travel VirtuallyTravel is limited for most of us in the world these days. For Canadians, it depends on the province you live in, but with the border to the US still closed, and other options limited at best, virtual travel from the couch can provide at least a view with a difference at a time when you may well need it most. Google Cardboard – VR On A BudgetYou don't need a lot of cash to get into travel via virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a line of VR viewers that are, well, made of cardboard, and are priced starting at $12CAD.If you check out this link, you'll find out how to download the software to your smartphone.At this link, you can get yourself an actual Google Cardboard for a hands-free VR experience. Google Cardboard apps offer a variety of ways to experience our beautiful planet, including Google Earth itself, which can take you anywhere, along with apps to view museums and cultural artifacts, and more.Ascape VRAscape has a huge l…

Harlem Stage Digital Event: A Drop Of Midnight October 13 & 15 2020

From a release:Harlem Stage Digital Event:
A Drop Of Midnight
October 13 & 15 2020A two-part conversation with Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité and his creative team around the developmental process of creating his autobiographical theater project, A Drop of Midnight. In this conversation Jason will take us on his journey to becoming one of Sweden’s chart-topping hip-hop artists and a best-selling author. He’ll also share the story of how a mixtape from Brooklyn traveled across the waters to the tiny village of Lund, Sweden and altered the course of his life forever. We will examine the impact of hip hop music and culture on the globe. How has hip-hop united communities of color globally?  How do you translate a personal story into a universal truth? How do you build a creative team? How has the current climate of social justice informed your artistic practice? Jason will read excerpts from the play and share some of the music. October 13—Part IIn this conversation A Drop of Midnight author…

Blues/Rock: The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now? (Independent / 24 July 2020)

The Cole Patenaude Band - Are You Happy Now?
(Independent / 24 July 2020) Buy the CD Big vocals and infectious grooves make up this release from The Cole Patenaude Band. It's modern blues with a classic sensibility, anchored by solid musicianship and upbeat songwriting. 
Keyboard player Dean Thiessen and Patenaude on guitar trade off solos and melodic lines to keep it interesting through a range of bluesy style, incorporating rock and country, with a pop song sheen on songs like For the Money. Would You Be Mine is more Elvis-esque rockabilly, while How To Love is an acoustic song with folky storytelling lyrics and feel. 
Compromise is a standout track, with a snarly guitar line and a churchy organ swelling underneath a nice bluesy beat. Horns aren't credited in the notes, but I swear I heard some on this and a couple of the other tracks. 
As a husband, father, and full-time mechanic based in Langley, British Columbia, finding the time to make his music was a challenge…