This expansive thematic show that uses House music as both an allegory and an art form ends this weekend. It’s worth spending time moving back and forth through the rooms to hear, or rather feel, how the soundscape informs works that are deceptively benign but loaded with signifiers of oppression / liberation creating intersections where labour meets love.
Today, Saturday, October 29 Toronto talent Esie Mensah will be performing between 2 – 4 pm.
“Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates takes over the fifth floor of the AGO’s Contemporary Tower with an immersive exhibition exploring the potential of the house museum—historically important landmarks that have been transformed into legacy sites. Gates proposes new ways of honouring and remembering Black experience and explores the potential of these spaces through music, dance, video, sculpture and painting.”
Factory Theatre on Bathurst hosts Next Stage Theatre Festival Toronto
Running until this coming Sunday, Toronto Choreographer Jasmyn Fyffe’s “Pulse” is a crowd pleaser. And don’t expect to stay in your seats! This performance is interactive at just the right moments – when the music makes you want to move the most.
“Inspired by the sounds of Motown, this contemporary dance work takes us back to an era where music was felt deep down in the soul. It explores our affinity for human interaction as the dancers ride an emotional landscape of conflicting needs and desires. A mix of high-energy sequences and intimate moments, Pulse is a show that will have you on your feet dancing and then humming the tunes long after the show is over.”
Pulse performance times:
Fri Jan 16 – 5:00pm
Sat Jan 17 – 9:30pm
Sun Jan 18 – 4:15pm
“OUR TOXIC ADDICTION IS SLOWING DESTROYING OUR BEAUTIFUL WATERWAYS” GreenPeace
Shop till you drop…dead?
In the aftermath of Boxing Day blowouts it’s a great New Year’s Resolution to take time to consider how fashion impacts the planet.
GreenPeace recently launched the Global Detox Campaign in an effort to inform people on how the garment industry, especially in places like China, is turning “public waterways into private sewers.”
According to GreenPeace 320 million people in China are without access to clean drinking water, 40% of surface water is considered polluted and 20% of the urban drinking water is contaminated.
“BEAUTIFUL FASHION DOESN’T HAVE TO COST THE EARTH” Greenpeace
The campaign sparked an around-the-world protest against companies like Zara, Victoria Secret, the Gap and Adidas some of which have now agreed to “detox”.
These toxins don’t just end up the water. New clothing is often sprayed with formaldehyde to protect against mildew and to keep fabrics wrinkle free. We then absorb the toxins through our largest permeable organ – our skin – via the clothes we wear.
With our purchasing dollars, especially during those Boxing Week Sales, we vote ‘YES’ for the continuation of harmful systems unless we opt to change our habits and the way we engage with mall culture and consumerism.
Necessity (mixed with creativity) is the mother of all invention (and prevention).
One way to change is to rock Second Hand Style.
The gorgeous dancers from JACK YOUR BODY – Emily Law, Kristine Flores, Ashley Perez and Jasmyn Fyffe – demonstrated, on the MIXED BAG MAG #MashUPStyle shoot, how to re-mix used clothing. I met JYB dancer Jasmyn Fyffe, when she modeled at a prior shoot and I was inspired by her ability to take cast offs and make them fresh. Many of us do this out of necessity as a way to save money but as we become more engaged around the issues of environmental protection re-using, up-cycling and swapping become great ways to assert our fashion sense while remaining true to the cause.
On the subject of Second Hand Style, Street Culture and Re-Mixing Emily Law (co-choreographer of JACK YOUR BODY along with Ashley Perez) explains that for the show:
“we attempted to costume each section with vintage clothing as much as possible. The majority of the cast owned a lot of second hand clothing, so it was not that challenging to find great retro pieces. Creating this show gave me a chance to wear some of the retro clothing I have been collecting!
Analogous to using authentic clothing pieces from each era, we used classic ‘vintage songs’ specific to each time period. By creating to these songs we are giving them a second life just like the clothing.”
In Street Culture fashion and music riff off each other in a constant creative conversation. Just like DJs who re-mix retro beats to make them fresh the clothing is also about taking the best of the past and making it stylistically relevant to the present. Perfect timing for a world in need of more sustainability (but sexy) choices!
All above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.
“Jack Your Body is a high-energy dance performance that pays homage to American street dance culture. The cast poses, struts, waacks and jacks their way through soul train, paradise garage and other iconic street dance scenarios. Issues of race, gender and social status come into focus during this dynamic dance piece that explores the evolution of underground social dances from the 70s-90s.”
Ska – Jamaica’s new freedom soundtrack having recently gained independence from the United Kingdom.
“It is the year 1963. The heat of the island is soaring through the rooftops and rising from the dancing bodies at the Sounds Systems street party in Kingston, Jamaica. The new sound and love of music in this island, resides in the heart and soul of ‘ska.’ A unique musical blend of rhythmic African music and New Orleans jazz, this sweet, new and popular sound pumps through the speakers and resonates through the island becoming Jamaica’s new freedom soundtrack having recently gained independence from the United Kingdom after 300 years. This is it; a new sound, a new musical revolution, a new meaning, a new life, a new creation of history influencing the island and the world forever.”(cited from Gimme One Riddim website)
Gimme One Riddim is the newest work by Toronto talent Jasmyn Fyffe. Jasmyn, along with Natasha Powell, co-produced and choreographed this play
The Ska beat and style aesthetic went on to inspire mashup culture in places like Coventry, England with the 2 Tone genre – a criss-crossing of Ska, Rocksteady, Punk, New Wave and Reggae whose vibrations crossed an ocean to inspire more fusing in places like Southern California with bands like Fishbone and No Doubt. For many people I know the 2nd and 3rd wave of Ska was the soundtrack of their youth!
And what a great soundtrack it was! Thanks Jamaica! One love!
“Many dances of the past we are still doing in the present”
Each year Harbourfront Centre hosts the KUUMBA Festival to kick off Black History Month. This year take advantage of Toronto dancer / choreographer Esie Mensah’s “A Journey Through African Dance.”
“It was very important for me to showcase Africa over the decades. Being a part of a traditional African group I wanted people to experience where many dances originated from. As I did research I realized that many of those dances from the past we are still doing in the present so I turned to the music. In showcasing the dance I am showcasing the music of Africa over the decades. You will see Africa from the traditional, afrobeat (40-70s) and azonto (present). We see people be inspired by politics, love, and just feeling good. I want to represent Africa in a beautiful light. When we appreciate our history we can continue to be innovative at any point in our lives.” ~Esie Mensah
Along with her evening talk Esie will also be leading an Afrofusion dance class at 3 pm. And if dance classes are your thing why not grab a snack then return at 6 pm for more Toronto dance talent – Jasmyn Fyffe with be teaching a workshop in Contemporary Dance.