Posted by: Anne Balaban | July 7, 2013

Inspirational tribute to Joni Mitchell at seventy (almost) years young

Luminato took place this year from June 14 to 23. The multi-arts festival took over city parks, theatres and public spaces for 10 days this year with the goal of introducing new art from around the world to Torontonians. I attended the tribute to Canadian singer/songwriter legend Joni Mitchell at Massey Hall.

Joni, who turns 70 on November 7th, was honoured by a wide variety of artists, where each took their turn at the microphone, backed by an eight piece band led by drummer Brian Blade, jazz guitarist Bill Frissel and an amazing percussionist Jeff Haynes. Mitchell, removed her shoes, appeared front and centre (at the end of the evening) recited a poem inspired by the words of Emily Carr, This Rain, and actually performed, backed by the entire lineup of performers. Among those that performed her works, with their own unique arrangements, were Kathleen Edwards, Rufus Wainwright, Liam Titcomb, Cold Specks and  Glen Hansard. As part of the audience, I felt I was witnessing something special. Both Edwards’  last-minute addition of Big Yellow Taxi and Wainright’s dramatic version of All I Want stole the show . It was a wonderfully energetic and an inspirational evening. We, the audience, spontaneously sang  Happy Birthday at the very end of the night.

 

Mark Morris is one of the most important creators of dance theatre in the world. The Mark Morris Dance Group presented his masterpiece, L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato at the Luminato Festival. This year, contemporary dance has made the biggest impression on me.

What impressed me about the production was the interesting way it blends baroque music with modern dance. Most of the dance is abstract, and yet, I found it amusing when the dancers embody birds around trees, the chasing of the hounds and even the creation of a fireplace with their bodies.

I attended  the pre-show talk before the Luminato performance and found the background and contextual information very important in understanding the production.

It’s high-brow art that’s also fun.

According to  Stanley Fefferman, “here’s the genius of Mark Morris: no matter how amazingly complex or daring the forms, his dances always seem simple, direct, not needing interpretation. The dancers are the music, the music is the feeling, and we the audience get it.”

I am new to dance and found it very enjoyable.


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