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.