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Spectacular international and Canadian theatre, dance, music and comedy awaits young audiences

TORONTO, April 7, 2004 — From May 23 to 30, Harbourfront Centre’s Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts takes centre stage in Toronto with dazzling juggling, moving dance, marvellous theatre, hilarious comedy, high-energy percussion and more! Sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the festival presents an inspiring programme, from the high flying acrobatics and spectacular drumming and dancing of Manding Jata, to the exhilarating percussion of Scrap Arts Music, from the intensely physical and highly expressive dance theatre of Quelli di Grock, to setting sail on a Viking boat to hear the epic tale of Beowulf. The festival, one of North America’s biggest and best festivals for young people features a fun-filled site with plenty of great activities, including Dairy Farmers of Canada Art Alley. For tickets and information, call Harbourfront Centre at 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/milk; teachers can call 416-973-4000, option 5.

Music and Dance
Manding Jata, from West Africa, the U.S. and Canada, presents the music, dance and oral traditions of the Mande speaking peoples of West Africa. In *Sunjata, the use of the kora, xylophones and flute transport audiences into 13th century Mali, while a Manding mask mime solicits audience participation. The drama and excitement unfolds through high caliber gymnastics, drumming, dancing and acrobatic tricks.

Physical Comedy
Jamie Adkins, eclectic clown, brilliant juggler and spectacular acrobat, grabs the audience’s attention with numerous fast-paced juggling acts, a slack wire act and Chaplinesque comedy in Montreal’s Cirque & Co.’s production of Typo. Adkins begins at his typewriter attempting to write a show but ends up going on an adventure with situations never going as planned.

Music
Vancouver’s Scrap Arts Music, a dynamic percussion ensemble, presents Phonk, a show featuring powerful original music, innovative sculptural instruments on wheels and hyper-kinetic performers. The ensemble’s music is a fusion of pop and world music with 21st century sounds.

Theatre
Set sail on a Viking boat and hear tell of Danish kings, magnificent halls and a great warrior in an epic battle to save a kingdom from destruction in Beowulf by Denmark’s The Telling Theatre. In this storytelling voyage, Beowulf enlists the help of a musician, whose instrument is a watering can, to defeat Grendel, the evil troll.

From the UK, Multi Story Theatre Company presents Firebird, a wonderful piece of visually stunning storytelling theatre recounting an old Russian tale of a prince and princess, of journeys and battles, and of fantastical, mythical creatures. Two actors play all of the parts and objects are transformed into characters including an umbrella which becomes the Firebird.

Denmark’s Teatret Fair Play stages A Word is A Word, a hilarious show that plays around with words, in which two children open a shop to sell words: words that want to play, words that frighten, words that rhyme and words that are hard to say. Its poetry and humour appeals directly to children at the age where language forms a vital and integral part of their exploration of the world.

Belgium’s Théâtre du Copeau performs *Coâ? In this musical tale the audience sits ‘round a lily pad and meets Jeremy Toad, a talkative toad wading and splashing knee-deep in the water of his wonderful wetland. Jeremy goes fishing to get some supper for his friend but must be rescued when he manages to get half swallowed by a “ferocious” pike.

Dance Theatre
Italy’s Quelli di Grock presents *Chaos. Intensely physical and highly expressive, it fuses movement, language, dance and theatre. Chaos is an ironic and comical look at the crazed pace of daily living. Physical and verbal outbursts slowly increase minute by minute, becoming more contagious and uncontainable until the performance reaches the unexpected, irresistible and “torrential” finale.

Quintavalla-Stori-Compagnia Abbondanza/Bertoni from Italy performs A Childhood Tale, a captivating piece of dance theatre about two neglected children who long to seek their own way in the world. Funny, passionate and moving, it is powerfully performed by two dancers who play all the characters and give a voice to a generation so often ignored.

Theatre/Dance/Music
From Toronto, Red Sky Performance presents the world premiere of *Sun Spirits, two contemporary Aboriginal stories staged together for the first time. Tomson Highway’s Caribou Song and the traditional tale Raven Stole the Sun fuse theatre, dance, live music, mask and storytelling to create a dynamic and emotional performance.

Comedy
From Toronto, The Second City presents Milking the Laughs II, showcasing sketch comedy and improv based on today’s pop songs, teachers, hockey parents and more! The crazy cast, featuring Aurora Browne, Paul Constable, Jennifer Goodhue and Pat Kelly, puts on big laughs and great interactive fun.

Film
*Hockey Nomad, a Gemini award-winning documentary, follows Dave Bidini, a noted Canadian musician and hockey fan, as he travels the globe and discovers that hockey connects players and fans everywhere through a common love of “our” game. Bidini makes his way to the desert of Dubai in the U.A.E. where a beautifully maintained ice rink miraculously rises from the scorching red sands, then on to Romania’s famed Transylvania, where hockey first started in the 1920s. He ends his travels in Mongolia where the game is played in the open air in the shadows of a Buddhist temple.

Other not-to-be-missed festival activities include Dairy Farmers of Canada Art Alley, where participants can unleash their creative juices in a variety of hands-on activities and take-home crafts. At Dairy Farmers of Canada Great Canadian Milkshake, festival-goers can enjoy a variety of “unplugged” and intimate performances from buskers and musicians to authors. A fun interactive space awaits visitors at the LEGO® Creative Play Area where they can use their imagination to build a robot, create a creature and more. Tour the Natrel “Oh” Zone for carnival style excitement featuring creative crafts, active games and DJs. Gimme a beat! celebrates global rhythm with daily drumming spectacles, including Japanese taiko drumming by Yakudo and the steel drum sensations of Jesse Ketchum Pan Vibrations.

Festival Weekend Passes
Sunday and Victoria Day Monday, May 23 & 24
& Saturday and Sunday, May 29 & 30
Milky Way Pass (activities two shows) $15.50
Moola Lah Pass (activities one show) $12.50
Festival Fun Pass (activities only) $9
ArtShops priced as performance.

Tickets to school week performances
Tuesday to Friday, May 25 to 28
One show activities $9
A second show or ArtShop on the same day is only $6 per person more.

The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts takes place in and around York Quay Centre, 235 Queens Quay West. The festival’s weekday (Tuesday to Friday, May 25 to 28) operating hours are 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and its hours on the two weekends (Sunday and Victoria Day Monday, May 23 & 24; and Saturday and Sunday, May 29 & 30) are 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada and generously supported by Natrel Inc., the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, CIBC, LEGO®, Good Humor Breyers, evian and the Westin Harbour Castle.

*Programming which explores concepts of Cultural Collisions.

From April through August 2004, Harbourfront Centre examines Cultural Collisions through its diverse programming with explorations of globalization, emerging identities and fusion of artistic ideas. The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts programming explores many of these themes in highlighted performances.

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Festival Media Contact:
Linda Liontis
416-973-4381
lliontis@harbourfrontcentre.com
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