A second round of Luminato events yielded a couple of disappointments and one stunning success:
This year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, and The Encampment is an artistic commemoration of the conflict’s civilian history. The grounds of Fort York — which ultimately fell to the American forces during the war — play host to 200 tents; inside each tent is an installation, inspired by the biographies of people who lived in Canada during the war. The installation opens at 7:30 pm (admission is free), and once the sun has set, lights inside the tents are turned on.
It all looks very pretty from the outside, and the city skyline that acts as a backdrop to this little historic enclave makes the scene even more arresting. The individual installations, however, are a bit lackluster. Most do not come equipped with any information about the people who inspired the art inside the tents, making much of The Encampment seem rather arbitrary. For a little while, it’s fun to pop into each tent and check out the installation inside. But without any salient facts, the significance of the installations is lost. —BK
Rating: Leave it
From the Dark
From the Dark is an interactive magic show performed by Chilean magician Juan Esteban Varela. Before the show begins, audience members are blindfolded and led into a completely dark theatre space. There, each person is given a box of props and assigned to one of four groups: tree, mist, leaves or bees.
According to Luminato’s website, the show seeks to determine whether the non-sighted “can experience the same sense of astonishment as those with sight feel when witnessing magic.” Perhaps they can, but I doubt that anyone, sighted or not, would be astonished by From the Dark. Varela has a few good tricks up his sleeve, but when it comes down to it, his performance does little more than prove that “magic” is essentially just a mixture of pure hokum and fancy illusions.
And while illusions might impress if they are well-executed, they will definitely flop if they are not. Case in point: during one segment of the show, Varela told the audience to shuffle a deck of four plastic cards, each with a different shape carved into the centre, and then to put all but one back into the box. Members of each of the four groups were supposed to be left with the same card, regardless of how they shuffled the deck. Varela then asked the “mist” group to announce the shape in the centre of their card. “Circle!” shouted a considerable portion of the audience. “Triangle!” shouted another considerable portion of the audience.
All in all, From the Dark was not worth the $35 price of admission. —BK
Rating: Leave it
Sadeh21 is a startling work of contemporary dance that explores the technique of Gaga, developed by Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of the Batsheva Dance Company. The troupe from Tel Aviv showcases the product of this particular type of training: a body sensitized to its core impulses, resulting in controlled and precise movements that are linked together with a surreal fluidity. Performed on a pure white stage, the show was divided into 21 sections, with each piece accompanied by its own soundtrack, style of movement, and timbre. Ending with music consisting of screams, the performance left the viewer with an overwhelming sense of both the strength and vulnerability of these virtuosic dancers, and potent visual images of the fragile world they created onstage. —IP
Rating: Love it!