An Appreciation of Dance in High Park and a review of These Are the Songs That I Sing When I’m Sad

by Lynn on September 29, 2020

in The Passionate Playgoer

Presented in High Park at the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre, Toronto, Ont.

Dance in High Park

Week 1: Solo in High Park (Sept. 26-27, 2020)

This is an appreciation of the artists who are participating in Dance In High Park. I would not presume to review this artform since dance and its language are not my forte.

Canadian Stage is presenting three different dance programs over three weekends outdoors. It’s listed as pay-what-you-can, but in fact it’s fee. You can make a donation on line to show you appreciation.

This first week was co-curated by Seika Boye and Timea Wharton-Suri. The show was a program that offered a gentle introduction of various dance styles to the audience. House dancer, Raoul Wilke started off the show. House dancing is a particular style of dance started in the 1980s (and yes I looked it up—grateful to this show for making me curious).  The style’s main characteristic is “Jacking” where the torso interprets the variations of the music. Wilke chose music that referred to inner pain. The dance seemed to move through that into finally a joyous finish.

Carmen Romero is an award-winning flamenco dancer who performed Mi Amapola, a dance commemorating life and death. You knew that ever twist of her wrists, the sharp, crisp snaps of her heels on the stage and even the flick of her dress all expressed a thought and had meaning.

Sam Grist, resplendent in an orange top and shorts, performed a whimsical, exuberant send-up of dance that blurred the lines of theatre, dance and comedy. It was choreographed by Alyssa Martin.

Finally Travis Knights blasted onto the stage tap-dancing in routines that challenged each other and also expressed the joy of dancing. It seemed his feet were expressing so many emotions, each clear. No extensive commentary was needed. Just an open-hearted appreciation of the work. He said to the crowd: “I’ve missed you!”  

I loved that there were almost 100 people properly scattered over the terraced hill watching these dancers. I loved that there were many children there as well.

Two more weekends of dance will follow:

Week 2: Dusk Dances in High Park (Oct. 3-4 at 2pm)

Week 3: Red Sky in High Park (Oct. 9 at 5:30 pm, Oct. 9 at 1 and 4 pm, Oct. 11 at 1 pm.

This is a wonderful initiative of Canadian Stage. Be mindful that High Park is closed to cars on the weekend. You can get to the Canadian Stage Amphitheatre, by biking or walking (lovely walk)

These Are the Songs That I Sing When I’m Sad.

Part of the Plural of She Festival (from Talk Is Free Theatre), Barrie, Ont.

Performed in the backyard of a private residence in Barrie, Ont. Sept. 28 and 29 at 6:00 pm.

Created by Jane Miller and Brian Quirt

Directed by Brian Quirt

Performed by Jane Miller

A charming, insightful,  joyful exploration of songs we turn to when we are blue.

This is the perfect show for these times when we are sad about the world, what we can and cannot do because of the pandemic, are missing friends, family and some kind of normalcy.

Jane Miller is a really gifted singer-song-writer-performer-musician. She and her equally gifted director-collaborator, Brian Quirt, created this show about the songs “she turns to when she’s blue, exploring the musical elements that make so many sad songs so addictive.”

Miller begins with Adele’s plaintive song of lost love “Someone Like You.” Miller did a search on many search engines for lists of sad songs and “Someone Like You” was on many of them. Not content with just singing a group of sad songs, Miller explores the minutiae that make the song sad and why we cling to them.  She cites studies from the U.K, McGill University and a study in British Columbia  that explore the emotional, psychological and even physical manifestation of the song. Some songs cause goose-bumps—and Miller is careful to note that the more skin that is exposed, the more the goose-bumps. The questions that Quirt asked Miller in the show’s preparation gives a special look at the creation of a show to which we often aren’t privy.

The Beatles wonderful song, “Let It Be” makes Miller’s list, as does one from Phil Collins. It’s an interesting, eclectic mix. Miller offers moments in her life when the various songs were needed to get her through those emotional times. The songs varied with the occasion. And while the reason for the song is clear in the title, the show is a joyous look at how music gets us through those sad times and why we hold them close to us. She engages the audience as well to offer their go-to song in such moments.

Miller always seems to be questioning and digging deeply into a song. She referenced “Nearer My God To Thee” the hymn sung on the Titanic. She then sang a few chords of Adele’s “Someone Like You.” They are the same. Who knew! One needs to go to Barrie, Ontario to find out such secrets.

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