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Posted in Dance
Contributed by Christopher Jones
10/14 2011

A Chinese Triumph Comes to Canada

Guangzhou Ballet, men jumping
Tuesday night’s Sony Centre performance of Return on a Snowy Night by China’s Guangzhou Ballet will be a wonderful reunion for Toronto-based, Chinese-Canadian choreographer Xing Bang Fu and his old friend Zhang Dandan, artistic director of the Guangzhou company. In 1980 Xing and Zhang were friends and students in the Guangzhou ballet school but their paths diverged when Xing accepted a scholarship with the Washington Ballet and Zhang went off to Beijing to dance with the National Company.

Zhang founded the Guangzhou Ballet in 1994 and six years later she commissioned Xing to choreograph two short ballets for her company, The Yellow River and The Butterfly Lovers, both of which have become modern Chinese classics and are still danced regularly by the company. In fact, after performing in Toronto this week, the troupe flies to Vancouver where Butterfly Lovers is on the program.

Return on a Snowy Night is a contemporary work danced to music by Fang Ming: a tragic story of forbidden love from the 1940s, it’s a classical ballet but with a distinctly Chinese flavour and Xing’s own hallmark fluid movements. The ballet captured top honours from the Chinese Ministry of Culture in 2010 cementing its reputation as a contemporary cultural touchstone, hence the current tour of Canada.

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Posted in Art
Contributed by Christopher Jones
10/13 2011

Marc Chagall Reigns at AGO

Matthew Teitelbaum
Art Gallery of Ontario
CEO Matthew Teitelbaum does an interview in front of Marc Chagall’s “Blue Circus”, one of the highlight works in Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, opening at the AGO October 18 (running thru January 15). Featuring 118 works including masterpieces by Wassily Kandinsky, the exhibition “tells a very compelling story about how artistic genius develops,” noted Teitelbaum at yesterday’s press preview. “It’s an extraordinary exhibition that puts the work of a great 20th century artist, Marc Chagall, in the context of his homeland, Russia, and his adopted country, France.”

Marc Chagall's "Dance"
“The Dance” by Marc Chagall, 1950 – 52

Posted in Dance
Contributed by Christopher Jones
10/12 2011

Karen Kain Opens Up

Karen Kain and Michael Crabb
National Ballet of Canada
Artistic Director Karen Kain was in the spotlight at the Toronto Reference Library‘s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon last night for the latest in an engaging series of Star Talks. In conversation with dance critic Michael Crabb, Kain reminisced about her farewell tour, her transition from prima ballerina to arts administrator — she chaired the Canada Council for the Arts from 2005 to 2008 in addition to directing the ballet — and she looked ahead to this year’s 60 anniversary season of the National Ballet. “I feel like I’ve been training to do this job my entire life,” she told the rapt full house. “I’ve been lucky enough to be given some guardianship of a great cultural institution and I’ll do my very best, just like everyone who came before me in this position, and I worked with them all. ”

Star Talks continue thru December with a range of fascinating speakers, see the full schedule for details; admission is free but tickets must be reserved in advance.

Posted in Family, Festivals
Contributed by Christopher Jones
10/6 2011

HarbourKIDS’ Monster Mash

helen yungWith Thanksgiving upon us and Halloween dead ahead, this weekend’s HarbourKIDS festival at Harbourfront Centre is dedicated to the scary, funny and exciting potential of monsters. A wide range of family focused activities and performances explore ideas about monsters including an exciting headline program from Mammalian Diving Reflex.

Toronto’s Helen Yung, left, will be in the Studio Theatre most of the weekend with Gulliver, a larger than life puppet she developed for Montreal’s Festival Acces Asie. Yung’s highly interactive presentation, dubbed Playtime with Gulliver, is a blend of puppetry, new media and improv.

Like the Wizard of Oz, Yung is perched behind her creation, operating him with her feet and typing as fast as she can to put words in his mouth via text-to-speech software.

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Posted in Theatre
Contributed by Christopher Jones
10/4 2011

Greatness Becomes Daniel MacIvor

danielDaniel MacIvor is a fixture on the Toronto theatre scene for a very good reason, he never stops working. He confesses that it may be a bit of a problem, this workaholism, “but I love my work and it satisfies me so what am I going to do? The problem is that I’m really, really bored otherwise. When I’m not working it’s just the dog and me; being busy is better.”

MacIvor typically mounts at least one show per year in Toronto then works on two or three other productions elsewhere in the country. Following his current run at Factory Studio Theatre with His Greatness, MacIvor heads to Stratford to workshop a play scheduled for the summer season and in March he’ll mount a new show, Was Spring, at Tarragon Theatre, where he is this year’s playwright-in-residence.

MacIvor is clearly enjoying his turn as Tennessee Williams’s assistant in His Greatness, a play the writer premiered in Vancouver in 2007 but has never acted in himself. And being in the show has encouraged him to rethink a significant aspect of the show. READ MORE