This year’s Luminato festival kicks off tomorrow and continues until June 15. Here’s a look at some of the best free, outdoor events happening as part of the festival’s opening weekend celebration.
For Luminato’s first six nights, Yonge-Dundas Square is devoted to dancing. Bands performing a wide variety of dance music styles will be preceded by mass dance lessons. A comment on the tired adage that Toronto audiences tend to stand stock-still, perhaps?
Friday is swing night, with a lesson at 8pm and a two-hour set featuring 14-year-old jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky, backed by the Count Basie Orchestra, beginning at 9pm. This will be the first of three performances by Nikki in Toronto this month; she’s also playing a ticketed Luminato show at Massey Hall, and she’s taking part in the Toronto Jazz Festival later in June. The Montréal-born phenom sports and the kind of big voice and broad appeal that Yonge-Dundas Square was built to showcase. She’s sure to go down like gangbusters.
WHAT: Slow Dancing video projections
WHEN: Friday, June 6 ’til Sunday, June 15 at dusk
WHERE: Hoskin Avenue and Tower Road
If you’re looking for the polar opposite of swing dancing, though, head to U of T’s St. George Campus for “Slow Dancing” — massive projections of human movement captured on film in extreme slow motion. This exhibition happens every night of the festival at dusk.
WHAT: Queen Street Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, June 7, beginning at noon
WHERE: OCAD, 100 McCaul Street
One part homecoming and one part history lesson, the Queen Street Celebration is the can’t-miss centrepiece of Luminato’s opening weekend.
The event pays tribute to the music and art scene that sprung up along Queen West and at the Ontario College of Art in the ’80s. Some call this the pinnacle of Toronto’s musical and artisic underground, but regardless of whether or not that’s true, there can be no doubt that the high ranking on the independent culture index that our city currently enjoys could not have happened without the blood and sweat offered up by the people being celebrated here.
Inside OCAD, check out photos and artifacts from the era, along with videos, a panel discussion, and a “closing cabaret” by Andrew J. Paterson.
The lineup slated to perform on a stage near the college includes Mary Margaret O’Hara, The Parachute Club, Johnny & the G-Rays, The “B” Girls, Mojah, Lillian Allen, Micah Barnes and Telmary. Performances begin at 1:30pm.
WHAT: On the One: Luminato Funk Festival
WHEN: Saturday, June 7, beginning at 1pm
WHERE: Nathan Phillips Square
Live funk, all day, in front of City Hall? Awesome. There are more dance lessons, too, and the headliners are Morris Day and The Time and James Brown’s Soul Generals — “the funkiest band in the world” (but don’t tell George Clinton).
WHAT: Silent Dance Party (part of Light on Your Feet)
WHEN: Sat Jun 7/Sun Jun 8, 12am-2am
WHERE: Yonge-Dundas Square
Bring your mp3 player and headphones to Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday night (or, technically, Sunday morning) and dance silently to a set compiled by DJ AC Slater, with interactive lighting by Gabe Sawhney, Patrick Dinnen and David McCallum. This event is (the coolest) part of the Light on Your Feet program of dance lessons and general movement encouragement happening on the square. To download the entire set, click the link below.
click here [155MB]
Photo of Mary Margaret O’Hara by Nigel Scott