Luminato debuts

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(Canscene) — By the time you read this, Luminto, Toronto’s festival of arts and creativity will be in full swing.

Recently I had the good fortune to meet the two Toronto men whose ideas and persistence over the past four years have led to the start of Luminato, the massive festival of arts and creativity that begins June first.

Tony Gagliano and David Pecaut, co-founders of the festival attended a conference for the ethnic media and introduced us to Janice Price, the CEO and Chris Lorway, vice-president of programming.

These two Canadians left important positions in the United States to come here to get things organized and what an array of events and talents they’ve arranged as you’ll find out by checking the website at

www.luminato.com.

Hosting the media conference was Toronto restaurateur Roberto Martella an ardent enthusiast of cultural events, in whose establishment, Grano, many of the planning meetings were held.

So although Luminato events and performances originate in many other parts of the world beside Canada, the inspiration for Luminato is purely Canadian. So please, I beg you, when anyone tries to tell you Canadians are dull dogs incapable of generating ideas — point to Stratford, point to the Shaw Festival and point to Luminato.

As I’ve noted, there are many free events at this massive undertaking, June 1 to 10, and the most spectacular of these is likely to to be Carnivalissima which closes Luminato with a three-day exposure to the world’s greatest carnivals.

Here, listed in full are the carnivals, all scheduled for Toronto/s Harbourfront area locations.

Carnivalissima Highlights!
Friday, June 8

6:45pm
Toronto Star Stage in Congo Square
Mexican – Viva Mexico
Viva Mexico Mariachi has become one of the most important exponents of Mexican music and traditions in Toronto, and has also expanded its scope to Brussels, Belgium. Their current album contributes to solidifying the group’s presence and work, which is motivated by their desire to continue offering a taste of Mexico’s musical legacy beyond its frontiers.

8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Carnivalissima Tent, York Quay Centre
The Masquerade Ball – Prizes will be awarded for the best costumes and the best dances to the music of Jay Douglas and the All Stars. A Tarot card reader and food for sale by Chef Ismat Juvani will add that Mardi Gras flavour to the mix! The tent will have a full service bar.

9 p.m.
Brazil Nativa
Toronto Star Stage in Congo Square
Brazil Nativa’s breathtaking costumes and infectious dances, running from the most popular, modern crazes to traditional sambas, conjure up the tropical atmosphere and zest for life that defines Brazilian culture!

Saturday, June 9
12 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Grand Carnival Café, York Quay Centre
Operated by Executive Chef Ismat Jivani from Big Daddy’s Oyster and Crab Shack, taste exciting dishes ranging from $5 to $12.

2 p.m. & 4 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace, York Quay Centre
Chef Ismat Jivani from Big Daddy’s Oyster and Crab Shack, and Chef Greg Coulliard from Restaurant Spice Room & Chutney Bar.

5 p.m.
Afro Brazilian dance lesson with Anthony “Prime” Guerra
Carnivalissima Tent
Anthony Guerra brings 15+ years of experience as a professional dancer, actor, and choreographer. Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, he learned and studied dances of his culture, and also studied theatre and music at the University of the West Indies.

Anthony has performed with a number of well-known dance troupes in Trinidad including Malick Folk (traditional dance), Noble Douglas, Carol La Chappele, Nrityanjali Dance Theatre (Indian dance) and Astor Johnson Dance Company (fusion modern and traditional).

8:30 p.m.
Toronto Star Stage in Congo Square, York Quay Centre
FireWalk – When day turns to night, Carnivalissima fires up the Toronto waterfront with spectacles of swirling fire dancers, daring fire eaters, majestic stilt performers, mythical giant puppets, and the glimmering lights of a thousand lanterns!

8:30 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Guiomar Campbell and Parabolica
Carnivalissima Tent
Singer and percussionist Guiomar Campbell, is a native of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and has been performing in Toronto since 1978 in various Brazilian as well as Cuban, South African, and World percussion ensembles.

Guiomar leads Parabolica, a Toronto based musical group built on a strong foundation of Afro-Brazilian Folk rhythms, bossa nova, samba, forro, played with a jazz sensibility. Their high energy show ranges from Brazilian folkloric music, to popular samba medleys, to jazz and funk-inspired original compositions.

9:30 p.m.
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage, York Quay Centre
Olodum – Based in Bahia, Brazil and widely credited for developing the music style Samba Reggae—have been performing since 1979, and are recognized internationally as ambassadors for Carnival in Rio de Janiero.

Sunday, June 10

2 p.m. & 4 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace, York Quay Centre
Chef Ismat Jivani from Big Daddy’s Oyster and Crab Shack, and Chef Greg Coulliard from Restaurant Spice Room & Chutney Bar.
2:30 p.m.
Topsy Turvy Street Stage, York Quay Centre
Pan Fantasy Steelband – A dynamic, versatile and highly talented group with a reputation for delivering high-energy performances of Calypso, Soca, Reggae, Classical, Pop, R & B, Latin and Jazz.

3 p.m.
Carnivalissima Tent, York Quay Centre
Calypso Calabash – Produced by Roger Gibbs and Ting-A-Ling productions – A show about the legacy of early Calypso (the Kaiso) featuring music, dance and storytelling. This 90-minute musical journey is divided into four segments with scripted narration portraying the evolution of Calypso music from its folk roots to modern-day variations. The Finale features a combined ensemble of the segments exploring the modern variations of Calpyso: Soca, Chutney, Rapso and Ringbang.

4 p.m.
Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage, York Quay Centre
Machel Montano and Xtatik – The undisputed soca king of Trinidad and Tobago, Machel Montano has etched his name among the elite in the music industry. Machel and his band Xtatik have been the premier soca band in the Caribbean for more than a decade and have established themselves as the leading draw at major events in New York City, Miami, Toronto and London, and throughout the Caribbean.
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