2006_0319azure0004.jpg

Under Azure Dome PACKED!

I attempted to attend Under the Azure Dome, the Persian/Iranian year's festival (or Noruz) at Harbourfront Centre.

To say that the place was packed would be understating the point.

Apparently both Harbourfront and the organizers of Azure were expecting 5000, not the 10,000 people who showed up. Okay, that may be an exaggeration but as it is, it was practically IMPOSSIBLE to see any of the shows or demonstrations. The line ups went from one end of the building to the other. My cousin Valizan was unable to find me in the crowd. It is a good thing that Toronto's Iranian community in have a good sense of humour or things could have gotten ugly very quickly.

In the end, I had to return on Sunday. I did get to see folk dancer Fethi Karakecili (pictured above) perform dances from Turkey(!?!). I swear there is no one who could do shoulder shimmies like this guy. Unfortunately his passion and talent could not fill up the stage: you really needed a troupe of dancers to get a true sense of the spectacle.

I also got a special treat. I went to hear musican Shahrokh Saeedi perform only to discover that he was being accompanied by vocalist Raman Miteran (of the Chakavak Emsemble). I am fast becoming a groupie -- this man's voice is absolutely amazing. That he is a rather handsome man is a bonus...

Sadly, Harbourfront Centre has come up short yet again. There is no way that the centre could hold a festival such is this during the winter, when you could not use the entire grounds. I understand that Azure, who have been planning this event for two years, was not allowed to book the Harbourfront Centre Theatre. Doing so would have greatly alleviate the congestion.

Should the Azure organizers attempt to hold this festival again I would advise them to do what the organizers of the Ashkenaz festival have done in the past: use Queen's Quay as well. Queen's Quay is so dead these days that they are likely to welcome the extra business.


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