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Showing posts from March, 2010

Montreal's La Otra Orilla come to Toronto

From a press release about what sounds like a very cool show: DanceWorks presents El12 by acclaimed Montreal flamenco company La Otra Orilla a piece for a dancer and four musicians Choreographed/danced by Myriam Allard Direction/singing by Hedi "el moro" Graja Guitars by Caroline Planté and Kraig Adams, Percussion by Éric Breton Music by Caroline Planté, Video by Geneviève Allard Lighting design by Pascal Turmel, Costume design by Susana Vera Enwave Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West Friday April 23 and Saturday April 24, 2010 - 8pm Toronto, March 24 2010 - DanceWorks , the city's longest-running contemporary dance series, presents the Toronto premiere of El12 , from Montreal-based flamenco troupe La Otra Orilla (The Other Shore) running Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24 at Harbourfront Centre's Enwave Theatre (see ticket details below). A work for a dancer and four musicians, La Otra Orilla dancer/choreographer Myriam Allard and director/ singer/di

Bill Viola, American Video Artist

Bill Viola , American Video Artist In Bill Viola: The Eye of the Heart , a documentary directed by Mark Kidel in 2003, Bill relates a near drowning incident while on a family vacation in the mountains. He describes it as … the most beautiful world I’ve ever seen in my life , without fear, and peaceful . I only found the quote while looking into this post, but being familiar with his work, it came as no surprise. His love affair and intense fascination with water is a theme that pervades much of his body of work. Bill Viola was born in 1951, and got an BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. He then took a detour into drumming for a rock band for four years or so, an experience he credits with fueling his growing interest in creating within an electronic medium. In fact, he and others went on to form the Composers Inside Electronics Group , touring the world in the early 1970's. He says the switch to video was a natural one. I first beca
Habib Koité part II Look what I found - about three minutes from Thursday night at Revival with Habib Koité and Bamada. The funny thing is, towards the end when the rest of the band starts, you can see me standing against the wall around the far side of the stage... lol Photo by John Leeson of during their 2009 concert in Toronto.

Habib Koité and Bamada at Revival Toronto

Habib Koité and Bamada at Revival in Toronto March 25 presented by Small World Music Habib Koité and Bamada delighted a packed house at Toronto's Revival last night in a concert characterized by wonderfully intricate music and the laidback and unforced Malian charm of Koité himself along with the rest of the band. It's a testament to the infectious nature of the music that I'm still singing Wassiye - which they did as part of an encore that also included Cigarette Abana, an early hit - even though I don't know what the words mean. They played a generous set of about two hours by my reckoning, time that flew by in a whirl of music and a crowd that couldn't keep still. Born to musical parents, Koité's education and career began early, and he blends various styles of Malian music to create his own vibe. He's been recording since 1991 and touring the world since 1994. The musicians played balofon, a traditional West African instrument that resembles a

I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny - Opening Night

I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny March 23 - April 3 The Theatre Centre 100-1087 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt) Toronto Written by, directed by and starring Ravi Jain (Canada), Katrina Bugaj (United States) and Troels Hagen Findsen (Denmark) Co-writer and Dramaturgy by Nicolas Billon (Canada) Why Not Theatre's production of I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny is a moving target of a theatrical experience, a funny and kinetic whirl of theatre, modern dance (with some impressive moves!), projected images and dialogue. The dialogue comes face to face, over the phone, via Raj ( Ravi Jain ,) the Virtual Assistant in India , and smart phone text messaging, in a regression towards less and less real contact between husband Steve ( Troels Hagen Findsen ) and the wife played by Katrina Bugaj . The husband/wife thread of the piece tells the tale of a well meaning businessman with a 'green' idea to make the world a better place and his patient but losing-her-

Sankofa: Ballet Creole's Spring Show

I've experienced Ballet Creole's athletic artistry myself, so I can easily endorse their upcoming show - from press releases: Celebrating their 20th Anniversary Season of Dance Ballet Creole present Sankofa A Retrospective of Ground breaking Afro-Caribbean and Contemporary Dance Fleck Dance Theatre April 15th - 17th 2010 Toronto, ON – Like most Arts organizations, Ballet Creole has gone through changes in organization, dancers and administration. But this Season is one of the promise coming out of artistic, financial, funding and ultimately economic challenges, and the Spring Season of Dance ushers in a new era for the company. Sankofa transforms in celebratory reverence to dances of the past, present and future in constant poly- rhythmic flow. The result is a seamless synergy of contemporary African and Caribbean modern dance and music. Sankofa is a testament to the transcendent power of drums, mesmerizing union of con

Iceland Rocks - Mugison at Toronto's Drake Hotel

Iceland's Mugison The Drake Underground March 19 & 20 Things must be pretty laidback in Iceland, I'm guessing. Partway through the second song of Mugison's hour long set last night at the Drake, the affable Icelander (?) mentioned it would be nice if his band members "...if they're here..." wouldn't mind coming up on stage to help out with the rest of the song. So they did, in an unhurried kind of way, bass and drums to complete the power rock trio and launch into songs like Jesus is a good name to moan (about prostitutes), the pathetic anthem , and others in a similar vein. Mugison, or Örn Elías Guðmundsson as he was born, often plays solo, and when he's with a band it seems a revolving cast of characters than can swell to five members or more, but the power trio version we got was plenty enough to fill the Drake's little rock cave with sound. The place was full and appreciative, responding to his frequent requests for back up vocals and

who knew grannie: a dub aria by ahdri zhina mandiela

who knew grannie: a dub aria by ahdri zhina mandiela Obsidian Theatre Company World Premiere in association with Factory Theatre , Toronto Continues to – April 4th, 2010 Starring Miranda Edwards, Ordena, Joseph Jomo Pierre, Andrea Scott & Marcel Stewart Musician: Amina Alfred (representing the sankofa bird) who knew grannie.. is a creative and engaging piece of theatre by playwright/ director ahdri zhina mandiela . It has a rhythm that ebbs and flows with the music of dub poetry in beautiful language that echoes the up and down movements of energy and intensity. There were layers and elements of movement, dance, song, and the drumming and other music by Amina Alfred to add to the mix. There is a story, and its basic outlines are fairly straightforward - four cousins are returning to Jamaica for the funeral of the grannie who raised them. As such occasions do, it sparks a flood of memory, feelings of regret and loss. The piece flows from past to present to thought to a

I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny - opens next week in Toronto

Why Not Theatre Presents I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny (Part of Free Fall & in conjunction with the Harbourfront Centre ) March 23 - April 3 - see details below The Theatre Centre 100-1087 Queen Street West (at Dovercourt) Toronto Next week, I'm checking out I'm So Close It's Not Even Funny , what sounds like some very cool original theatre. It's presented by two year old company Why Not Theatre , currently in residence at Toronto's Theatre Centre , an international theatre company whose mandate is to create productions of both new and classic works that engage audiences in new ways. Why Not Theatre's core consists of Ravi Jain (Canada), Katrina Bugaj (USA), Troels Hagen Findsen (Denmark), Katharine Yates (UK) and Gina Scherr (USA), who met as students at The Jacques Lecoq international theatre school in Paris, where studies tend to emphasize the physicality of performance. Their pieces combine various media with a physical energy th

Jaffa Road Garners Juno Nomination

I interviewed Aaron Lightstone of Toronto's Jaffa Road a few months ago, and they sent me an update recently. Congrats! Jaffa Road Garners Juno Nomination We are very excited to share this news with you, earlier today we attended the Juno Awards press conference. Jaffa Road as been nominated for World Music Album of the Year for our début CD Sunplace.. Here's the official press release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 3, 2010 JAFFA ROAD 2010 JUNO NOMINATION World Music Album of the Year! [Toronto ON] Canada's ambassadors of cutting-edge Diaspora Roots music , Jaffa Road , are nominated for a 2010 JUNO Award for their CD, "Sunplace":: World Music Album of the Year! With electrifying onstage chemistry, Toronto's acclaimed Jaffa Road combines original and ancient poetry sung in Hebrew, Spanish and English with pulsating dub grooves, belly dance rhythms, ambient electronic textures, and exhilarating improvisations. The group has created a unique s

who knew grannie: a dub aria by ahdri zhina mandiela

who knew grannie: a dub aria written and directed by ahdri zhina mandiela produced by Obsidian Theatre Company in association with Factory Theatre (Toronto) (see full cast list below) Previews on March 16-17 World Premiere March 18 – April 4, 2010 at Factory Theatre I can actually say, without a trace of irony, that one of my best friends is a dub poet, but if you're not familiar, it's a form of performance poetry whose underlying music is the rhythm of reggae . Dub poetry can be performed either with or without the actual music; a 'dub aria' goes one step further and replaces the reggae music with human voices and percussion. Obsidian Theatre Company's Artistic Director Philip Akin (director of Factory Theatre's Toronto the Good in 2009 and the current remount of Intimate Apparel by Obsidian/Canadian Stage) elaborates, "What we have is a new art form that creates lyricism and music through language and chorale work. And yet this aria form i

Nightwood announces FemCab 2010 Line-Up

This event looks to be a great night out and features some talented women I've talked about here previously on my blog, including Maude Barlow , mezzo soprano Jean Stilwell and pianist Patti Loach , choreographer Andrea Nann , and as it happens, I appear very briefly in Andrea Dorfman's 2005 documentary Sluts! (and it's not what you think! lol) From a press release - Nightwood announces FemCab 2010 Line-Up… including Maude Barlow as the keynote speaker FemCab 2010 Nightwood’s 27th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration April 13, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Brigantine Room, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West TICKETS: Ticket price: $30.00 BOX OFFICE: Tickets are available in advance by calling Nightwood Theatre at 416.944.1740 ext. 8 or online at Toronto, ON …Nightwood Theatre, Canada’s national women’s theatre , is thrilled to announce Maude Barlow as this year’s Keynote Speaker. National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and

Water on the Table - A documentary about Maude Barlow

Water on the Table A documentary about Maude Barlow and Water Justice Written, directed and produced by Liz Marshal l Produced in association with TVO World Premiere on TVO's The View From Here , Wednesday March 24, 2010 at 10:00pm (EST) Repeated March 25 at 1:00am (EST) & Sunday March 28th at 10:30pm (EST) Is water a human right or a commodity to bought and sold like oil or sugar? That's the essential philosphical war that is currently being waged at an international level. Water on the Table tackles that question through taking a look at Canada's international " Water Warrior " Maude Barlow in her tireless quest to give water the status that will forever protect it from commercial enterprise, and something that can never be denied anyone. (Image is of Maude at the Alberta Tar Sands.) Maude's view of the not too distant future is a scary one - only the rich will be able to afford to drink the purest bottled water that will originate from ev

Soulpepper's Oh What A Lovely War

Oh What A Lovely War! Soulpepper Theatre Company Written by Joan Littlewood, Theatre Workshop & Charles Chilton Directed by Albert Schultz Musical Direction by Marek Norman - see full cast list below The Young Centre, Toronto - continues to April 10 The horrible conditions suffered by soldiers, the naive assertions by political figures of a quick and easy victory and general stupidity of the upper echelons who remain safely behind the battle lines, the cold and callous profiteering as whole nations bleed and lie in ruins - sound familiar? The study of history is often "justified" by saying that what we learn, we won't then repeat, but more often than not, serves to underline just how little we have learned. Oh What A Lovely War was written in 1963 about WWI - the War to End All Wars - but its obervations, sadly, still ring loud and clear today. Playwright Joan Littlewood , a visionary largely credited with giving birth to modern British theatre, conceived o

William Kentridge at MoMA

William Kentridge: Five Themes at MoMA continues to May 17, 2010 The Nose Metropolitan Opera continues to March 25, 2010 William Kentridge: Five Themes is a large scale exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist's work, devoted to examining nearly 30 years of his oeuvre. The show includes over 120 works in ten media, with nearly half drawn from MoMA's existing collection of Kentridge's installations, films, drawings, and prints. A true "multimedia" artist, his works include prints, collage, books, sculpture and more, but he's probably best known for his charcoal drawings and the animated films based on them. He's often said in interviews that he simply begins with a concept, often with no idea which medium (or media) he'll use to express it in the end. Many of his animations are created by drawing and erasing and redrawing on the same sheet of paper - a method he describes as "stone age animation" - leaving the ghost impressio

A Taste of Iceland - Art, Film & Food come to Toronto

A Taste of Iceland Iceland comes to Boston March 11-17 & Toronto March 17-20 There are only 300,000 people in Iceland, did you know that? And yet, there seems to be an abundance of arts and culture in the island country that sits in the cold seas between the coasts of Norway and the U.K., and Greenland. They're bringing a little of that culture to Toronto this month (after a stop in Boston March 11-17) - a taste of it, if you will - in conjunction with the Drake Hotel. The Drake will have a special menu and will exhibit Icelandic art, and I'll be trying to get to the Underground for Mugison on the 19th or 20th. (Image is of the coat of arms of Iceland.) In the meantime, you can also check out two films in FREE screenings: Thursday, March 18, at Cumberland Four Theatre (159 Cumberland Avenue) 6:30 pm - Sveitabrúðkaup (Country Wedding) & 8:10pm - Reykjavik-Rotterdam I just checked them out myself - here's a quick look: Sveitabrúðkaup (Country Wedding) 20

The National Ballet of Canada

The National Ballet of Canada Highlights from 2010/2011 Season With its disciplined beauty and grace, ballet has an otherworldly sort of quality about it. That appeal is only enhanced by the airy 4-balcony high environment of the Four Seasons Centre , as I was reminded when taking in the last show of 24 Preludes by Chopin & A Suite of Dances & The Four Seasons on Sunday (March 7). The programme was an interesting mixed bag, with music from Chopin to Bach to Vivaldi and the dance from avant garde to contemporary. From lighting design to costuming to the performance itself, they delivered a polished, yet passionate interpretation of the works, with a developed dramatic sense that went from comedy to pathos. Check out a previous version of Summer from Kudelka's Four Seasons (with Rex Harrington) here . In the five years' since she's become the Artistic Director of the National, Karen Kai n has developed a reputation for putting together varied and entertaining l

Tinariwen, Madagascar Slim, and a Meditation on the Blues

From the southern Sahara to Madagascar, there's something about the blues... For two nights in a row this past week in Toronto, I was treated to very different versions of the musical form from some of the best musicians you'll hear anywhere. Thursday night (March 4) - Tinariwen at the Phoenix Presented by Small World Music The place is packed with a crowd that's very Toronto mixed - all shades, all persuasions and all ages it seems, most of the front section where I was moving to the hypnotic bass and drum driven music of Tinariwen. It was impossible not to feel the rhythm through your body and let yourself be moved by it ... Their playing is as accomplished as it is impassioned. You felt the sincerity of every note, the way the music simply took them over too. (video is from the 2007 release Aman Iman: Water is Life) The enigmatic Ibrahim Ag Alhabib comes on and off stage for various songs with his slightly weary demeanour and vocals, elements that seem entirely g