Seeing

Drama in our Neighbourhoods – Toronto’s Porch Theatrics

Girl dancing on porch railing.Stroll through a neighbourhood on a warm summer evening, as we often do, and the gardens and front porches, empty chairs or people sitting out, parked bikes and strollers all hint at details of private lives. Two theatrical events this summer dramatized those glimpses and took that stroll a step further. In July during Panamania, Appledore Production presented The Postman, a play about the first black postman in Toronto. The performance took place on what had been his route in the Annex neighbourhood, going from front door to front door. Porch View Dances meandered through Seaton Village, the area north of Bloor and west of Bathurst in August. Artistic co-director Karen Kaeja explains the genesis of this concept:

“One day as I peered out the front window of our home, my curiosity swelled. I began wondering what was happening behind closed doors across the street. Imagining the possibilities through dance, I envisioned the stories of its inhabitants flowing out onto the front porches of their homes. I thought about the pulse that lies within the home and how dance could bring a distinct vitality to reflect the unique intricacies and voices of a family or its inhabitants. Thus, Porch View Dances was born…”

This year was the fourth for this annual event. Professional choreographers work with residents who volunteer themselves and their porches.

I regret that I missed The Postman, but I did follow Kaeja Dance’s engaging and mustachioed tour guide through streets and laneways in the twilight. We stopped at three different houses and stood on the street and sidewalk as dancers performed.  The highlight of these was a tender father/daughter pas de deux playing out adolescent independence and parental protectiveness on their porch railings, ramps and steps. Interspersed with the three porch vignettes were recurring encounters with the Bride Brigade, “a flood of women in white like a torrential rainstorm.” Led by singing bride/accordionist Tatjana Cornij, amateurs complemented by professional lead dancers ran through the audience and down the street.
Click on any photo to enlarge Tour guide for Porch View Dances.

Each piece was short, and after the Bride Brigade finale in a local park, the dance was expanded to include the audience. In ordinary undramatic spaces we had collectively witnessed intimacy in family relationships and heightened emotional interactions, and somehow as we swayed together we felt like a community though we were strangers. There were smiles of delight and quiet conversations  as spectators slowly dispersed.parkful of dancers

– Schuster Gindin
Quotes from the program
Photos by Schuster Gindin, rehearsal photos by Shana Hillman

This article can be found in GOING OUT, in the section What We’re Seeing.

Comments

Oh.. toronto porches, miss you. What a loving concept.
Sara Abraham, Lahore

How wonderful – do you think this is unique to Toronto?
Carol Phillips, Barrie

 

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