Urban Planner: January 29, 2010
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Urban Planner: January 29, 2010

Urban Planner is Torontoist’s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email all of its details—as well as images, if you’ve got any—to [email protected]

Namastey brings the sights and sounds of Bollywood to this year’s WinterCity Festival. Photo courtesy of Compagnie les Passagers.

FESTIVAL: What began twenty-nine years ago as the North York Winter Carnival has evolved through various incarnations to become today’s WinterCity Festival, drawing hundreds of thousands (more than 560,000 last year) of Torontonians out of their homes to celebrate (instead of curse) winter. Showcasing the unique diversity and spirit our city is known for, the festival fills two weeks with culture, cuisine, and creativity, via the WOW! Series at Nathan Phillips Square, the Warm Up Series at various cultural and tourist attractions across the city, and the wildly popular Winterlicious (see below), hosted by a slew of excellent Toronto restaurants. Some highlights from the early days of the festival include special screenings and animation workshops at the NFB, and tomorrow’s Bunch Family Dance Party. The festival kicks off tonight at Nathan Phillips with a show by the talented and inspired Compagnie Les Passagers, from France. The poetic Time Is… transposes a breathtaking vision of traditional and contemporary China onto a vertical world of dragons, lanterns, kites, and Kung Fu choreography (8 p.m., FREE). Various locations, showtimes, prices (see links above).
FOOD: It’s a common misconception that Winterlicious, an offshoot of WinterCity, is just a prix-fixe promotion (no small feat, mind you, with 150 Toronto restaurants offering three-course meals at seriously affordable prices), but it also comprises ten diverse culinary events that playfully introduce Torontonians to the distinct and unique flavours of our city. Tonight’s “Eats, Beats and Tweets @nyood” is a perfect example. Combining food and technology, diners’ tweets are projected on the walls at restaurant Nyood as they enjoy a special tasting menu (Nyood, 1096 Queen Street West; 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $50 plus beverages, taxes, and gratuity). Various venues and prices (see links above).
MUSIC: Accomplished music producer and engineer, John Payne, was the studio engineer in the early days of Death Row Records, the label that birthed the West Coast’s best-known rappers: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac. Payne is in Toronto today to speak at the conference segment of Urban Music Week. His insights, gained over years of experience in the industry, round out the first day of the event, which offers networking and workshops on the “business of urban music,” and targets all those involved in it—from artist-entrepreneurs and managers, to indie labels, publishers, and booking agents (to name a few). Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Upper Canada Room, 18th floor (100 Front Street West), 12–8 p.m., $25.
THEATRE: The internationally acclaimed Akhe physical theatre company from Russia is in Toronto for two nights to perform White Cabin, a captivating take on loss and alienation in Russian society, woven from shadow and object theatre, silent film, installation, and old photographs. A cult icon in the Moscow and St. Petersburg indie art scenes, Akhe has been awarded numerous times for its unique vision and style, which has had a significant influence on the European theatre world. This production, deemed “complex, baffling, difficult” by the U.K.’s Guardian, would be a shame to miss. The Theatre Centre (1087 Queen Street West), 8 p.m., $20 (call 416-538-0988 to book ahead).
ART: U of T’s Theatre Museum Canada presents “Distinctly Different: The Theatre Posters of Theo Dimson,” featuring the fascinating work of OCAD alumnus Theo Dimson. Born in London, Ontario, in 1930, Dimson graduated from the school in 1950 and—although best known for his posters—has enjoyed a prolific artistic career producing commercial designs for Hollywood films, fashion stores, and magazines, as well as for big-name retailers like Town Shoes and Eaton’s. A quirky side note to his other creative pursuits: Dimson is a self-professed F. Scott Fitzgerald fanatic, and is currently researching Fitzgerald’s time spent at camp in Orillia (where Dimson lives). Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle), reception at 5 p.m., speeches at 6 p.m., FREE.