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Running from June 1–10, Luminato takes over our fair city, with over 100 events spanning just about everything arts-and-culture-related. As they boast on their website, “Luminato was created to bring Toronto’s best to the world, and the world’s best to Toronto.” A noble goal, and one they seem to have accomplished: Leonard Cohen! Philip Glass! Uh…Stephen King! Dancers! Artists! An Art Boat! Many things!
Luckily, Torontoist (in the form of contributors Sharon Harris, Stephanie Hart, Mathew Kumar, Carrie Musgrave, Johnnie Walker, and Karen Whaley) is here to shed light on some of the best of the best in each of Luminato’s main categories: Celebrations, Visual Arts and Design, Music, Literature, Dance, Theatre, and Film.


Carnivals of the world unite at the Harbourfront Centre’s Carnivalissima, where two days of festivities kick off with a real masquerade ball! While you’re near the harbour, check out Luminato’s L’Art Boat (above), which will ferry passengers along Toronto’s waterfront to view sculptures.
Just down the street, the Distillery District is hosting a variety of free and ticketed events like multilingual scrabble boards, live poetry booths, group doodling, hip hop shows and international music.
However, one of the most highly anticipated events of Luminato is the unveiling of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal at the ROM (above). It’s about time. [And if you don’t want to wait, Torontoist has exclusive photos of the interior of the Crystal!—Ed.]

Visual Arts and Design

Here is a list of our picks in the area of Visual Arts and Design, with the added bonus that they are all free of charge:
Floating Artworks (above) is a series of public installations that situate large-scale suspended pieces in various downtown spaces. From June 1 on, the mobiles will be found in BCE Place, Union Station, and Toronto-Dominion Centre. There are six in total; you can find more information on the artists and projects here.
For photography and history buffs, Ryerson’s Black Star Historical Photography Collection isn’t to be missed. Starting on June 4 at the First Canadian Place Gallery, the collection contains over seventy years of twentieth-century photojournalism, documenting “significant historical events and personalities, war and conflict, advances in science and technology, and arts and culture.”
For those seeking a truly interactive artistic experience, Live Painting: Celebrating the Beauty in Art (above) with Montréal-based painter Carlito Dalceggio is worth investigating. Starting on June 1, Dalceggio will paint on a huge public canvas located at Hotel Le Germain (30 Mercer Street). The work will continue to evolve over the course of the festival, and the public is also being asked to help Carlito in the process: you can send end “any visual, textual or video material that moves you or reflects your thoughts on beauty, as well as words of encouragement” to [email protected]


Book of Longing (above) is a world premiere concert by renowned composer Philip Glass, based on Leonard Cohen’s poetry in The Book of Longing. The evenings (June 1–3 at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre) feature musicians from various backgrounds, including classical and indie rock, with Leonard Cohen providing recorded words, and Glass himself on piano to accompany. Adds our Literature Editor, Sharon Harris: “We hope to hear Leonard Cohen do a straight-up reading of his work before we die.”
Then there’s the Masters of World Music Series. As the title suggests, experience music from different regions of the world, from reggae to samba, and everything in between, over five evenings from June 4-8 at the Harbourfront Centre. Highlights include our very own talented Hawksley Workman, who’s voice will blow you away, as well as the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, who will get you moving to some lively salsa. Each evening of the series is worth checking out, and best of all, it’s free!
Help kick off the first (annual?) Luminato Festival at the free opening night concert on June 1, at 9 p.m., at BCE Place, featuring songstress Chantal Kreviazuk, jazz diva Molly Johnson, the fabulous Muhtadi International Drummers and more, down on Front St. between Yonge and Bay. All ages are welcome to the celebration.
Representing more than 20 cultures, the family-friendly Muhtadi International Drumming Festival is celebrating its 8th year of drumming, with over 30 performances over June 2 and 3 at Queens Park. In addition to experiencing live drumming performances from around the world, there will be a variety of ethnic treats to sample and fine crafts to peruse.


Here’s the flavour of the Booked! Festival, which seems to represent book-like objects as part of Luminato: “A brand new readers’ festival for ALL booklovers! From chick-lit to horror; from politics to pop culture; it doesn’t matter if you read a book a week or one a year, you’ll find an event you simply can’t miss at BOOKED!”
They lose us as our brain numbs, but interestingly, Luminato will host the Trillium Book Awards. For the first time in its 20-year history, the awards presented by Ontario Media Development Corporation, opens its ceremony to the public. Yes, schmucks like you and me can pay ten dollars to celebrate the 2006 winners. The Luminato site says you can “rub shoulders” with the nominees, and “more than twenty past winners,” but neglects to actually list the nominated authors (including Ken Babstock, pictured). The $20,000 awards are given out at Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre on June 4.
For something completely different [aside from Stephen Fucking King!—Ed.], The Luminato Poetry Slam is going down over three nights and a day in the Distillery District. We don’t pretend to understand the schematics—which seem even more complex and mysterious than the rules of other poetry slams—but we won’t let that hold us back from presenting the info to you. Dave Silverberg explains that on the night of the first round (June 6), six poets have been invited from the Toronto scene (Krystle Mullin, Gypsy Eyes, Valentino Assenza, Truth Is, Boona and Eddy da Original One); six more will be chosen from the audience. It proceeds like this:
June 6, 8:30 p.m: 12 poets total (6 invited, 6 from the audience) – 1 round
June 7, 8:30 p.m: 7 poets (highest scores from June 6) – 2 rounds
June 8, 8:30 p.m: 4 poets (highest cumulative totals from June 7) – 2 rounds (there’ll also be a feature performance by Robert Priest)
June 10, 2 p.m.–4 p.m: 2 poets, head-to-head (top cumulative totals from June 8) – 2 rounds (also feature performances by Dwayne Morgan and Motion).
However you figure it, that’s a substantial amount of poetry.


The National Ballet is showing a free triple feature of Matjash Mrozewksi’s Wolf’s Court, Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, and James Kudelka’s The Four Seasons at the Elgin Theatre. The three ballets will be “simulcasted” on stage (whatever that means), and Canadian ballet heartthrob Rex Harrington is set to host.
Motus O Dance Theatre is presenting two shows: Petrouchka, the story of a wizard and some marionettes, and Kshetram—Dancing the Divine, a celebration of bharatanatyam dance from India.
Rite of Spring and Re- by Shen Wei Dance Arts, which is described as “live painting” where the dancers are like paintbrushes and the stage a canvas. Blech.
The coolest-sounding show is Vida! (above), a work by Lizt Alfonso’s Danza Cuba troupe. Danza Cuba uses Spanish and African influences to create “a sensual mix of fire and spice.” Cuban dance trumps ballet AND marionettes in Torontoist’s humble opinion.


As far as theatre goes at Luminato, the most notable trend is George F. Walker. A total of 4 plays by the much-lauded Torontonian playwright are being performed as a part of the festival. Over at Factory, there’s Better Living (which we reviewed earlier this month), its sequel Escape From Happiness (above) which opens this weekend (a remount of last year’s successful production) and Tough! , which opens on Friday. All three are a part of Walker’s East End Plays cycle and run in repetory for what Factory has called “The Walker Project”. Meanwhile, as a part of Harbourfront’s New World Stage Festival, Polish director Grzegorz Jarzyna imports his version of Walker’s Risk Everything, to be performed in Polish with English surtitles at McBride’s Bicycle Shop at Dundas and Keele.
Other interesting theatrical happenings at Luminato include An Evening With Glenn Gould , a new one-man show about the last night of the Canadian master pianist starring Ted Dystra (of 2 Pianos, 4 Hands), and a production of Under Milkwood, Dylan Thomas’ famous “play for voices” to be directed by Dyskstra featuring single actor Mike Ross as all 50+ inhabitants of a sleepy, Welsh village.


So, Luminato, then. Toronto’s Arts & Creativity festival, have, you know, only decided to show the one film. And they haven’t even managed to do it all by themselves! Yes, with the help of Cinematheque Ontario they’re showing Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon The Brain at the Elgin Theatre, at 8 p.m. on June 5th. It’s absolutely worth it, however, as it’s a rare opportunity to see the film as it’s meant to be seen, with live accompaniment from a narrator, a castrato (really?), three foley artists, and orchestra, as we saw it at TIFF2006, where we called it “Beautifully shot and edited … an unusual, darkly comic and surprisingly erotic film for anyone who wants to see something truly different..” (And don’t forget: Cinematheque Ontario is showing 6 classic silent films selected by Guy Maddin in their new season.)
Photo of Ken Babstock by Sharon Harris. All other images courtesy of Luminato’s website.