Even the most loyal of Torontonians can surely admit that our city, while beautiful, exciting and full of fun stuff to do, is not terribly cool. Maybe it’s the proximity of chic Montreal that makes us seem a bit stuffy, or perhaps it’s city hall’s ongoing quest to carpet the downtown in wall-to-wall condos. Either way, it’s fortunate we have events like Luminato to spice things up once in a while.
This year’s festival promises some of the usual hipster offerings that have proved popular with audiences. Singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright will be warbling show-tune duets with other male artists, including Boy George, Josh Groban and Steven Page; it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. Gentlemen Prefer Duets, Sat, June 14 at 7:30pm in the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St E.
The TimesTalks Luminato roundtable conversations are sure to be fascinating, including luminaries like musician/producer Daniel Lanois and Isabella Rossellini talking about their varied and successful careers. Lanois will be further feted in an all-star tribute to his catalogue of beautiful and timeless songs that will feature artists Emmylou Harris, Martha Wainwright and the amazing Mary Margaret O’Hara. Sleeping in the Devil’s Bed: The Music of Daniel Lanois, Tues, June 10 at 7:30pm at Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St.
Also not to be missed is a performance by Toronto’s Hidden Cameras, fresh back from their US tour. Frontman Joel Gibb and his crew of gospel-tinged cavaliers put on a high-energy show that is as infectiously melodic as it is thought-provoking. The Hidden Cameras, Sun, June 8 at 4pm in the Festival Hub at Pecaut Square, 55 John St.
But it’s always with the taboo and unexpected that Luminato truly excels as an arts festival. Certainly one of the most unexpected offerings will be All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, a raucous and fascinating discussion of love and sexuality by senior citizens from around the world.
“I think that it’s one of those things that makes sense, if you think about it for a moment logically,” says Eva Verity, director of creative production at the Mammalian Diving Reflex theatre company. “We’re so youth obsessed, and some people may not want to think of their parents or grandparents in that way. But you don’t just turn off the faucet when you age. You’re still you.”
All of the show’s performers have their own story to tell; no detail is spared as they discuss their adventures — and misadventures — in the world of marriage, liaisons, role-playing and orgies. This is the production’s first international cast, featuring members from Germany, Singapore, Scotland and North America. Personally, I can’t wait to hear from Hank, a gay man from Philadelphia who goes by the name of Hattie-May for the show. I initially assumed that a senior homosexual’s story would involve plenty of repression and angst, but it sounds like Hattie-May’s had a gay old time in her decades of love and sex.
“Hank’s had a lot of lovely adventures,” Verity says. “The sense of restrictiveness doesn’t really come out as much because of his friends and social circles. He definitely found his own path in a beautiful way.” All the Sex I’ve Ever Had, Thurs, June 12–Sun, June 15 at 7:30pm in the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St W.
Dance, always an exciting staple of the festival, does itself proud this year. Not to be missed are performances of famed choreographer Pina Bausch’s legendary Kontakthof, a piece often called the crowning achievement of the modern dance pioneer. Showings of Wim Wenders’s Oscar-nominated 3D film Pina will pay tribute to Bausch’s creation of her Tanztheater Wuppertal dance company through excerpts from four of her defining works. Kontakthof, Wed, June 11–Sat, June 14 at 7:30pm in the Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St E; Pina, Sat, June 14 at 1pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St W.
Another modern dance icon will be presenting her first choreographical effort, with the Toronto premiere of Louise Lecavalier’s So Blue. Lecavalier is a head-turning artist; her standout contributions in La La La Human Steps have led to worldwide acclaim as both a dancer and teacher.
So Blue is a deeply personal piece for Lecavalier, who will perform the first act solo before being joined by Frédéric Tavernini as they dance the relationship between a mother and her son.
“It was intimidating for me,” Lacavalier says. “Working with Édouard [Lock, the founder of La La La Human Steps] for 18 years and loving what he was making, I thought, why do something less than that if I’m working with someone so good and talented? But I wanted to make something of my own, finally.
“It’s important for me to make a work by myself. It lets me talk about living and the fight and contrast in life. I realize that I’m so full of contradictions, and movement allows me to express it. For me, this is food. This is nourishment.” So Blue, Fri, June 13 and Sat, June 14 at 8pm and Sun, June 15 at 3pm in the Fleck Dance Theatre, 207 Queens Quay W.