jamii esplanade toronto

Here's why people are dancing and singing in a Toronto playground this week

Toronto playgrounds may not be the site of many children gathering these days, but recently people have been filmed using one as a makeshift stage for song and dance performances.

Esplanade community group Jamii, CORPUS Dance Projects and Canadian Stage have come together to create MIX, four nights of five-minute distanced dance and music performances broadcast on Facebook Live at 7 p.m. from Mar. 3 to 6. Performances include covers of well-known songs so viewers can sing along from home.

"The original idea was to have a live concert at the heart of our community, The Esplanade, as part of a beautiful partnership between Jamii and CORPUS, with the support of the world famous Canadian Stage," Isorine Marc, Executive and Programming Director for Jamii, told blogTO.

"When we started the artistic process back in December of last year, we thought things would be better come March, but we were wrong. As creatives, we have been continuing to adapt and decided that instead of a live performance, we would bring the project to a live-online performance."

They asked six singers and musicians what the question "How do we mix?" meant to them as part of the process of creating the show.

"The way I see it, there's no better way to mix than by making music and dancing together. We become greater than the sum of our parts and communicate in ways that transcend language. After a year of isolation and online interaction, this is what I crave above all else," Co-Artistic Director Anika Johnson told blogTO.

The show was conceived for an in-person audience, but was reinvented to become a livestreamed outdoor concert.

"When we combine songs of different genres and sing them in unison or in harmony, we create a unique soundscape for any listener to enjoy, and hope to inspire others to 'mix' and belong to a tribe of rhythm, melody and love," singer and musician Arlene Paculan told blogTO.

"We chose a unique yet familiar location in our neighbourhood, which we purposely don’t reveal or promote to avoid people attending/gathering, and then explored how to bring to life an in-situ experience to share with our audience from the comfort of their homes," says Marc.

"We invited three talented videographers to simultaneously capture and stream this performance, each from a different angle. As audiences follow the show, they discover multiple corners of the performance site, they enjoy a multi-perspective experience, and are connected with us, at home, seated in the front row."

Even if you can't tune in to the performances live, they remain posted online so you can catch up on them later. For singer Bana Stegu, the show itself feels like a metaphor for how we manage to connect to a sense of community and belonging despite being separated in various ways.

"When I think of how communities come together, how we mix, I think of belongingness," says Stegu. "I think of the many little communities within our broad community that exist to nurture, support and protect its members. There's a place for everyone. Everyone belongs."

Lead photo by

Jae Yang

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