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The must-see season: A guide to summer's hottest cultural events Add to ...

Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, St-Sauveur, Que.

July 26-Aug. 4

This festival has been around since 1992, but it’s only in the latter years that it has become a go-to event in terms of top-of-the-line talent, particularly companies that aren’t appearing anywhere else in Canada. Its make-up is a lot of dance and a little music. This year boasts performances by Hong Kong Ballet, Momix and the Trey McIntyre Project. Dance doesn’t get any bigger than that. Home-grown talent includes Montreal’s Hélène Blackburn/Cas Public and Toronto’s Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company. Music is represented by internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Gino Quilico, and popular Montreal songwriter Lewis Furey ( fass.ca).


National Ballet of Canada, Toronto

June 1-10

Karen Kain is taking a chance in programming the North American premiere of Kevin O’Day’s ballet. Created for Stuttgart Ballet in 2008, Hamlet is beloved of audiences, but has garnered mixed reviews. As is his wont, O’Day, the American-born artistic director of Ballet Mannheim, has chosen three contrasting Hamlets. Guillaume Côté is the handsome, brooding prince. Piotr Stanczyk is the exuberant personality kid, and joining these two principal dancers is second soloist Naoya Ebe. Ebe has displayed technique galore, which has made him a favourite of choreographers, but this plum will give him a chance to define himself as a dancing actor ( national.ballet.ca).

Black Corps: War of 1812

Afro-Caribbean Dance Group, Toronto

June 14-16, Fleck Dance Theatre

Each performance begins with choreographer Anthony Guerra’s 11-year-old son, Christian, reading his class project on Richard Pierpoint. In answer to Pierpoint who? – he was the leader of the Coloured Corps – 35 men who signed on to help the British/Canadian cause, and became heroes during several key battles. Like Pierpoint, many had been African-born slaves in the newly formed United States. Guerra is using a range of dance styles (West African to modern dance and hip hop), and music (Chevalier de Saint-George, to Bob Marley and Howling Wolf), to tell their story. This little-known, black contribution is not being forgotten during the war’s bicentennial celebrations ( harbourfrontcentre.com).

Dancing on the Edge Festival, Vancouver

July 5-14

This is the 24th year for this important festival of pan-Canadian dance. Producer Donna Spencer ensures that there is a judicious mix of the home team plus choreography from the other side of the mountains, a balance between emerging and senior artists, plus a variety of dance styles. Vancouverites include the 605 Collective, Co. Erasga, Peter Bingham, Contingency Plan, Karissa Barry and MACHiNENOiSY. And from away are Fortier Danse (Montreal), Adelheid (Toronto), Nicole Mion (Calgary), Robin Poitras (Regina), Constance Cooke (Victoria) and Brian Webb Dance Company (Edmonton). There are always site-specific creations such as composer Brad Muirhead’s sound-dance installation at Victory Square ( dancingontheedge.org).

The 5th Annual Toronto Burlesque Festival, Toronto

July 19-22, Gladstone Hotel/Virgin Mobile Mod Club

Each of the four nights features a different performance: the Headliners and Producers Showcase, National and International Strip Search Competitions, the Burlesque Ball with an all-star lineup, and Legends of Burlesque plus specialty acts. Along with Toronto’s own Burlesque divas, visitors include Michelle L'amour (Chicago), Burgundy Brixx (Vancouver), Kristina Nekyia (San Francisco) and Armitage Shanks (Seattle). Celebrations include a performance by the first Canadian legend, Judith Stein (a.k.a. The Canadian Beaver), originally from Woodbridge, Ont., who had a successful 17-year-career that spanned the globe. There are also master classes at the Burlesque University, and the Tease ’n’ Twirl Marketplace for strip shopaholics ( torontoburlesquefestival.com).

Porch View Dances, Toronto

Kaeja d’Dance

July 19-22, Seaton Village

Seaton Village is bounded by Bathurst, Bloor, Christie and Dupont in downtown Toronto. It is also where Karen and Allen Kaeja live. Karen conceived PVD when she looked out her window and had a vision of people dancing on their porches. A call went out and five families volunteered. Each is working under a choreographer (Nova Bhattacharya, Michael Caldwell, Maxine Heppner, Karen and Allen) who is creating dances based on family stories, or as Karen says, bringing the inside out. Rehearsals take place in the home. On performance days, a processional will move from house to house, ending up in Vermont Square Park for a community dance ( kaeja.org).

Wreck Beach Butoh

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