The slam dunk of Dusk Dances

Dusk Dances, Toronto’s contemporary outdoor dance festival is coming back to Withrow Park this summer for its 25th season!

Article written by Fleur Boomsma

Fall  by Hanna Kiel // PHOTO BY DAVID WONG

Fall by Hanna Kiel // PHOTO BY DAVID WONG

Join the excitement as Canada’s best choreographers are showing off their dance pieces, even involving choir and community members!

First, the music at Dusk Dances is welcoming as it invites the crowd to watch the live band and participate (if they wish) in a dance workshop. Following the workshop, the festival’s charismatic host Madame Beaucoup - a.k.a. the beloved Lisa Anne Ross - will guide you through five short dance pieces. She’ll bring even more light into this experience.

We had the opportunity to speak with the mastermind behind this family-friendly event, Sylvie Bouchard. As I arrive at the Riverdale Perk, one of the neighborhood’s favourite cafés, I see Bouchard and Marketa Tokova (the Dusk Dances administrator) working on the patio. They both welcomed me with open arms and invited me to sit down to have a coffee with them.

Meet Sylvie Bouchard, Dusk Dances Festival Director. You’ll see her organizing everything behind the scenes at Withrow Park. If you see her, be sure to say hi and express your thoughts // FLEUR BOOMSMA

Meet Sylvie Bouchard, Dusk Dances Festival Director. You’ll see her organizing everything behind the scenes at Withrow Park. If you see her, be sure to say hi and express your thoughts // FLEUR BOOMSMA

Bouchard’s face lit up when I asked when and why she came up with the idea to create festival. She thought of this idea 25 years ago as she was walking through Trinity Bellwoods Park. She asked herself, “what if we bring dance to the audience in the park instead of waiting for them to come to the theatre?”

Bouchard fell in love with dance at the age of 12 and still till this day loves this industry. However, it’s a difficult field to be in since there isn’t a large audience. After all, dance productions have shorter runs and few shows, and so it’s harder to build an audience. People often can’t find the time to attend due to work and family obligations. But she loves a challenge! Thus, she created this festival as she felt passionate about introducing more people to this form of art. Dusk Dances allows the whole family to enjoy a dance performance together through the eyes of five different choreographers.

“The idea of Dusk Dances is to build bridges to a wider audience to include those that have never seen and experienced it,” Bouchard says.

Fall  by Hanna Kiel // PHOTO BY DAVID WONG

Fall by Hanna Kiel // PHOTO BY DAVID WONG

At the same time, as social media and technology has built up over the years, Bouchard says “it’s important that people stay with their bodies and their imagination.” Watching contemporary dance will encourage the audience to visualize the story behind the dance piece.

This season you will be able to learn square dancing at the (all ages) workshop. The participants will learn a simple dance that repeats. Then, this dance will be called by the caller. It’s spontaneous and fun way to engage with other people and with the music.

Lewis + Company is proud to once again support and sponsor this incredible community event! Bring your friends, family, and furry friends to this magical evening of fun. Dusk Dances celebrates between August 4-11th, starting at 7 pm.

 


Hundreds show up to Dusk Dances' 24th festival season

The preview night at Withrow Park was a success thanks to all its volunteers 

Dusk Dances opening performance: Waving is funny. Choreographed by Tina Fushell. Performance by Tina Fushell, Luke Garwood and Molly Johnson

Dusk Dances opening performance: Waving is funny. Choreographed by Tina Fushell. Performance by Tina Fushell, Luke Garwood and Molly Johnson

Article and photography by Fleur Boomsma

The Dusk Dances preview evening started out relaxed. Neighbors got together with their children and pets; sitting on picnic blankets and lawn chairs enjoying a drink. They were watching the opening band and Joy of Dance teacher perform a dance lesson. Several people got up to learn how to dance, especially the children. The teacher requested a volunteer to help him assist with the dance lessons and a young child was delighted to come forward. You would think that only a handful of people would show up at 7 p.m., which was the introduction before the festival started.

By the time of 7:30 p.m., the park was filled with hundreds of neighbors prepared to watch the five dance performances. It was incredible see how the volunteers and the (really funny) host, Susie Burpee's alter ego, Allegra Charleston, were able to navigate these watchers to the next performance. Let me tell you, the host was a real comedian!

The host of the 24th Dusk Dances festival season, Susie Burpee's alter ego Allegra Charleston

The host of the 24th Dusk Dances festival season, Susie Burpee's alter ego Allegra Charleston

It is Dusk Dances’ 24th year that they celebrate this festival season and travel to Terrebonne (Quebec), Hamilton, Toronto (Withrow Park), and Barrie. The park is filled with volunteers selling popcorn for $2 a bag, take donations (it is a pay-what-you-can basis), and help the host navigate the residents through the park to go to the next dance piece. These festival’s choreographers come from various backgrounds that are represented in the contemporary and traditional dance pieces.

While the audiences are navigated by its volunteers to the next performance, you see the children run (for their lives almost) to get a good seat! You don’t want to sit behind those who have lawn chairs, you won’t see a thing! The adults are lucky, their children get to the piece early and reserve spots while the adults can walk at an easy pace while chatting with their surrounded neighbors. 

Dusk Dances performs five 10-minute pieces at Withrow Park and are “inspired by the park’s natural environment”. I won’t spoil these performances, you’d have to see for yourself and judge! With the rain this week, don’t let this weather ruin this artistic, social and cultural event. Bring some dry lawn chairs so you won’t have to sit on the wet grass.

Dusk Dances celebrate between August 5-12th. You are just in time to finish your weekend off with this relaxing and amazing experience. We love Dusk Dances, what do you think?


Dusk Dances 2018
Withrow Park

Located south of the Danforth, between Logan and Carlaw in Toronto, ON.
Closest TTC subway station: Chester.
More info: 416 504 6429 ext 24