Interesting about the Doras

by Jini Stolk

I missed the Dora Mavor Moore Awards this year, I’m sorry to say, but I wanted to share a few thoughts before the new season takes off.

I did remarkably well last year, seeing a larger number of nominated shows (in each and every category) than I usually rack up. This was mostly because I foreswore procrastination and jumped to buy tickets for productions that sounded interesting or got great reviews.

Looking over the list of nominees one more time, I have to say it was a terrific season: from weird and wonderful new work to startling and and moving interpretations of classic texts; beautifully staged operas and musical theatre; young audience shows that were simply excellent theatre; and exceptional dance from here and around the world. We’re very lucky to be able to see work of this extraordinary calibre in Toronto.

What else did I see? Houses that were full. Shows that were totally sold out, in that I couldn’t get tickets. Shows that were staged in unexpected and exciting venues.Inventive, charming, and appealing marketing from small companies like Against the Grain Theatre and for indie shows like Little Death. The rise of Storefront Theatre!

I also saw Fringe line-ups in July that were long, eager and overwhelmingly filled with younger audiences. I just confirmed that 57% of Fringe attenders are under age 34, and that the Fringe’s sales were higher this year than ever before. Affordable, fun, impromptu theatregoing obviously has a market and a future – as does the full range of performing arts in Toronto, judging by this past stellar season.

Another show I was delighted to see was the PanAm Games opening ceremony, created by Cirque du Soleil and featuring choreography and dancers from my very favorite Toronto Dance Theatre with students from the National Ballet School.

BUT (and here I’m about to criticize another of my favorites, the CBC):

Come on CBC! I know you could have found an announcer for the opening ceremony who didn’t sound slightly stunned that he wasn’t calling a hockey game; perhaps someone who could speak articulately, with knowledge and passion about a cultural event. You might even have tapped Kim Roberts for this task; she did a fabulous job – warm, welcoming, enthusiastic – introducing PANAMANIA acts at the CNE grounds.

And what was with the camera work? I seriously feared that someone had put the opening ceremony cameras on a bungee cord. As soon as I thought we were going to be shown the dancers up close on stage, we were whipped up to bird’s eye level, and then just as I was beginning to see the movement patterns on the ground, we were swooped down for a brief glimpse of the dancers, and then….and so on and so on.

That being said (by a cranky blogger) Christopher House’s choreography and Toronto Dance Theatre’s dancers shone brightly, and I loved the Games almost as much as I loved the 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Awards Season.

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