By Daina Valiulis
If you do decide to go to the New Waves Festival, remember to take people with you to keep you company while you wait. And be prepared to explore.
As part of this year’s LuminaTO festivities, this event stands out. This weekend (and next), the two-storey, multiple-stage Young Centre was home to hundreds of emerging and established Canadian artists presenting various works. Each performance is fifteen minutes long and different acts shared various rooms with the schedule posted outside the door. The idea is that the audience feels free to wander, explore, and uncover treasures lurking in all corners of the building.
It was this exploration that was frustrating. Even with the schedules, it was never clear what was playing where (and when), and sometimes people waited in queues outside various rooms for up to twenty minutes. The most unfortunate part is that, in an attempt to maximize your time, you may end up missing what you originally hoped to see. An itinerary may have helped. Even so, I ventured into several excellent and/or intriguing performances.
“Virtuosic Toronto” was a series of dance/music compositions inspired by various workers in Toronto: a jambe drum maker, a tow truck driver, and a chef making noodles were represented on a giant screen, and accompanied by a musician and dancer. The dancer representing the chef pounding the dough slapped the counter with his fluid, powerful movements and was most interesting to watch.
Next, the Tarragon Theatre’s Youth group showcased the second half of a play written by a fourteen-year-old author. While the script about teen relationships was kind of cute, these kids have a lot to learn. However, it was wonderful to see young artists represented and given the opportunity to perform.
Having forfeited seeing the “Bedtime Stories” performance in favor of a piece called “Divination Duets,” I was pleasantly surprised. Inspired by the music of The Tragically Hip’s frontman Gordon Downie, two dancers performed three of eleven prepared dances (chosen by the audience) set to different songs. Even thought I’m not a fan of Downie or The Hip, I still loved this performance. The dancers were light, airy, and unbelievably agile. The most impressive piece of the three was called “Trick Rider,” in which they performed various acrobatics in “trust game” style, balancing on each other. Their movements expressed the sensuality and joy of discovering a lover for the first time. It was truly breathtaking, and a great way to end my New Waves adventure.
While the whole event’s organization could have been better finessed, it was a wonderful representation and celebration of what Toronto has to offer. Meant for all ages and all different artistic tastes, the New Waves Festival is a good place to visit if you have a free day and would like to see as many performances as possible.