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Artscape Atelier and West Queen West BIA host Distance Dances on July 4, July 18 and August 15

Artscape Atelier, in partnership with the West Queen West Business Improvement Association launched a three-part performance series called Distances Dances in different parks and locations in the West Queen West neighbourhood. Six artists were offered paid performance opportunities as part of Artscape’s Together for Artists initiative, each performing their original piece on July 4, July 18 and August 15.

Take a look at the performance schedule and selected artists:

July 4

The Clothing Workshop by Teresa Asencao

“The Clothing Workshop,” is a participatory performance artwork with clothing. The artist surrounds herself with an abundance of clothing that she owns. Participants are invited to point out clothing they want her to wear, and she’ll wear everything asked of her, layered over top of each other … until things take a turn. The experience is open to conversation. The Clothing Workshop questions our connections and disconnections to clothing, and consumption of clothing and materialism during these transformative times.

Teresa Ascencao is a multimedia artist whose work toys with social constructs of body language, costume, customs, and inner corporeal experiences. Her folk and pop inspired artworks employ concept-related mediums and technologies that invite audiences to play with iconographies and scenarios involving gender, seduction, consumption, and class.

Teresa was born in Brazil to Azorean parents, and immigrated to Canada at a young age. She graduated with distinction from the University of Toronto’s Honours Fine Art Studio program and holds an MFA specializing in Media Art and Sex-Positive Feminism from OCAD University. Ascencao’s work has been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally. She lives and works in Toronto.

Air Hugs with Mamma C by Ella Cooper
Euclid Parkette 2PM – 3:30PM

Solo mum, award-winning community artist and host of the Mamma C show, Ella Cooper, is here to make you feel good today! If physical distancing has got you longing for more connection and missing your daily hugs then you need to join today’s interactive performance with Mamma C who will be air hugging every willing stranger.

Mamma C is a playful and proud, creative, Black mama, an award winning artist, independent filmmaker, programmer and cultural leader, who has been working in Canada’s arts sector for over 20 years. Her new video series ‘The Mamma C show’ is a family friendly show for little kids featuring playful songs, stories and creative activities sent in by BIPOC artists, puppets & kids from across Canada. This awesome new online video series is designed to support playful children and adults of all kinds looking for fun stuff to watch and do while they are stuck at home during the COVID pandemic.

July 18

Free Hugs by Miggy Esteban
Euclid Parkette 2PM – 3:30PM

We are in the middle of a new dance. Our everyday normal has been disrupted. Comfort can no longer be felt through touch. Connection must now be made from a distance.

We are working together to transform the ways in which we support each other. And I can’t help but feel frustrated. I can’t help but feel like all of our efforts are not enough. All I want is to connect with my friends and family. All I want is to feel the comfort of their embrace. Right now, all I want is a hug. Through this interactive dance performance, I welcome audiences to play with me as we discover what it means to hug during these uncertain times, and to question what it means to hug during any and all times. I invite audiences into my embrace as we navigate what a hug feels like in this time of physical distance.

Jose Miguel (Miggy) Esteban is a Toronto-based, Filipino-Canadian contemporary dance/movement artist and educator. Through his work with Impetus Movement Project, he unpacks the intentions behind movement to (re)imagine, (re)create, and (re)encounter dance. Miggy is currently a Master of Education student in the Department of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto). His research uses a creative and critical interpretive approach that engages with disability studies and dance/performance studies to explore how embodiments of movement and gesture act as windows into the social, cultural and political narratives through which they appear and exist.

A FLOOR, A FLORA by Lauren Runions
Lisgar Park 2PM – 3:30PM

Placemaking is an ongoing negotiation with the body and our environment.

Inspiring placemaker Jay Pitter states we have duties as public space stewards to find ways to actively express care as we go through the world. As a mathematical performative experience relating figure and form, A FLOOR, A FLORA will act as an embodied reimagining of space through the shape game Tangram. With our new practice of physical distancing, going forward how will we engage and shape our environments with properties of safety, care and play?

Lauren Runions is a contemporary dance artist, choreographer, urbaner, facilitator and artistic director of I/O Movement. She is an avid cyclist and percussion enthusiast! Her project I/O Movement offers performances, community workshops and residencies with the intention to activate space, consider the flexibility of place and invite daily embodied practices of acknowledging site. Through this project, Lauren has installed site-responsive work across the city in parks, closets, elevators, living rooms, ice cream shops and under stairways. She has lead community engaged workshops Field Guide for Performance in Public Space (Maximum City), Movement at the Mall (Art Starts/Daniel Rotzstain) and Dancing + Drawing (I/O Movement), and presented works at MOCA (Carlos Bunga), The Bentway, PS: we are all here, and with SPACE ANIMATØR to name a few.

August 15 

Limits of Intimacy of Johannes Zits
Trinity Bellwoods Park (Site Specific)  2PM – 3:30PM

Since the beginning April, a particular maple tree in Trinity Bellwoods Park has been one of my sources of strength and given me a sense of hopefulness for things to come. Since spring, when this maple woke from its slumber, I have observed its many changes: its leaves have opened up and delicate flowers turned into seeds. There are now a circle painted over some of its roots, to act as a barrier for some. My engagement with this maple will be an act of connectedness and empathy, while contesting the heteronormative understanding of intimacies that exist among different kinds of living bodies as well as our entrenched notion of hierarchy constructed between humans and nonhumans.

Johannes Zits is a Toronto based artist who has presented work across Canada, as well as internationally. His exhibitions, performances and research projects have taken him to places like Havana, Vienna, Shanghai, and Mexico City. This year Johannes is artist-in-residency at the McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario.

Grace Channer
Queen & Gore Vale 2PM – 3:30PM

Despite the harsh realities of the times we are living through, this interactive work insists on the hopeful desire to communicate with one another. The expressions of the body in this performance seeks to explore ethical engagements with others. In conjunction with the broad capacity to imagine change and to ‘hear’ and dialogue, the ethical expression of the body is an especially potent, if not mandatory practice to develop in the contemporary world environment today.

Grace Channer‘s interdisciplinary art practice is research based, art led and located in a transnational, black, queer, diaspora, aesthetic experience. Her work is both critically and theoretically engaged in activism and social justice issues, community and public art. Channer was cofounder of community grassroots organizations in Canada and the UK. They include The Black Women’s Collective, Our Lives, the first Black Women’s newspaper in Canada (1986) where she was art director; DAWA curatorial collective; Zamimass, a black lesbian organization in the UK (1991); CampSis, a political, arts and cultural centre in northern Ontario (1993) and W5, a women of colour Arts collective (2011).  She is the director of Bathari Productions, an arts-based production company where she continues to develop interdisciplinary arts and education projects that push past boundaries. Channer has an MFA in Fine art and is currently completing a PhD In Interdisciplinary Humanities Studies at Brock University.

While you are out and about in the West Queen West neighbourhood, look out for the social distancing circles designed by local artists as part of Artscape Atelier’s partnership with the West Queen West Business Improvement Association.

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