Kaeja d'Dance Explores the Healing Power of Play in 13th Annual Porch View Dances

The event runs July 17-21, 2024.

By: May. 22, 2024
Kaeja d'Dance Explores the Healing Power of Play in 13th Annual Porch View Dances
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Kaeja d’Dance’s summer community dance project, Porch View Dances (PVD), will return for its 13th year to Toronto’s historic Seaton Village neighbourhood from July 17-21, 2024. This year’s site-specific, outdoor dance event will feature a series of short, original performances danced by everyday people that explore the heart of play – choosing joy over fear, giving into laughter and silliness, and unashamedly embracing our truest selves.

“With the continued rise of opposition and polarity, community projects like Porch View Dances are an opportunity to release ourselves from personal challenges and instead, find connection with one another,” says Mayumi Lashbrook, Curator and Artistic Producer of PVD 2024. “PVD has surprised and delighted audiences for 13 years, and each year we are reminded of the joy that exists in our lives that we often pass by without noticing. It is with this inspiration that this year’s festival looks through the lens of a child’s playful eye. We invite audiences to let loose, have fun, and engage in meaningful experiences with those around them.” 
 

Curated by Mayumi Lashbrook, a Japanese Canadian artist whose practice spans performance, choreography, production, and education, this year’s roving PVD will feature porch performances choreographed by Toronto dancemakers, including Sid Ryan Eilers, Fer Camacho, and Zita Nyarady. The works, performed by non-professional participants, will be interspersed with short dance vignettes, choreographed by Esie Mensah. The open-air experience will conclude with the premiere of a multifaceted work by longtime PVD collaborator and Indigenous creator, Jim Adams, in partnership with Heryka Miranda (Saturday and Sunday only), and the return of PVD’s beloved, interactive finale, Flock Landing – an audience-inclusive gentle movement installation, led by Kaeja d’Dance dancer Mio Sakamoto.

PVD, founded by Karen Kaeja and developed with Allen Kaeja, will launch at the corner of Seaton Village’s London Street and Porch View Dances Lane – recently renamed by the City of Toronto in honour of the annual dance event – and audiences will be led through a series of Seaton Village streets, homes, and spaces by tour guide Kunji Ikeda, a theatre artist and entertainer.

JOY is a Home with Many Rooms, choreographed by Eilers (they/them), will see a group of courageous parents, with their children, as they wholeheartedly embrace their children’s gender fluid expressions, allowing space for their brightness and joy to shine. Eilers leads a creative movement dance class for gender non-conforming/fluid children, called TRANScenDANCE, in partnership with Canada’s National Ballet School and founded with support from Community One Foundation Rainbow Grant.

Camacho’s work, Everyone Knows How to Play Tag, is a heartfelt journey delving into universal childhood experiences, in which the inherent creativity and communal bonds forged through play remains a poignant reminder of what truly matters throughout our lives. A Mexican Canadian artist and recent immigrant, Camacho was inspired by the ways in which children’s games transcend language barriers and mental illness.

Counting Smiles, choreographed by dance, theatre and circus artist Nyarady, seamlessly blends dance and clown work to elicit reactionary smiles from the crowd. As audience members relax into laughter, participants will tally up the smiles in a lighthearted effort to subvert despair with joy.

Over the course of the nomadic experience, audiences will come across three vignettes, choreographed by Mensah, an award-winning choreographer, director, and educator. Oddly situated within the neighbourhood and performed by professional dancers, these mini interrelated performances will carry the throughline of joyful discovery throughout the evening.

Adams, a multi-disciplinary artist with maternal bloodline in the Swampy Cree, Innu, and Mohawk communities, and Miranda, a dance artist trained in ecological land dance and expressive arts therapies, will premiere their collaborative performance installation at PVD. Through their insightful retelling of the Indigenous origin story of Sky Woman, which blends dance, storytelling, and an on-site creation of a turtle shell, the work aims to reconnect audiences with the natural world, highlighting the sacredness of seeds, plants, and our connection to the living world around us. 

Launched in 2012, PVD has grown into a highly anticipated recurring event, considered “a poster child for site-specific dance done right” (The Globe and Mail). In addition to its landmark Seaton Village series, additional iterations of PVD have taken place across Ontario with events in Ottawa, Kitchener, and with Lakeshore Arts in Long Branch, New Toronto, and Mimico in South Etobicoke as well as Moncton N.B.. Kaeja d’Dance continues its commitment to prioritize working with performers and collaborators who are underrepresented, often in race, gender, sexuality, age or dance form, in the dance community on this project. PVD engages ‘real people dancing in real spaces’ and in this way sends the strong and powerful message that art is for everyone.




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