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The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts celebrates 25 years of excellence, May 21 to 28


TORONTO, February 21, 2006—The 25th anniversary edition of the Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, boasts a brand new energy to make this an experience not-to-be missed! Harbourfront Centre’s prestigious annual festival showcases the best Canadian and international performing arts from around the globe including Belgium, France, Germany, Mongolia, The Netherlands, Poland, the U.K. and the U.S.A. This year, in honour of the festival’s 25th anniversary, Harbourfront Centre is also excited to offer innovative and exhilarating visual arts, readings, pod-casting, architecture, design and more; all for families and young audiences!

The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts takes place from Sunday to Sunday, May 21 to 28, at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West. Tickets are $10 each for students, which includes $1 FRF*, during the school week. A second programme on the same day is only $6 per student more. During the school week (Tuesday to Friday, May 23 to 26), the festival runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A Milk Festival Day Pass is $12.50 each, plus $2 FRF, during the weekends and entitles festival-goers admission to as many programmes as they can schedule into their visit. During the weekends (Sunday and Victoria Day Monday, May 21 & 22; and Saturday and Sunday, May 27 & 28), the festival runs from
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For tickets and information, the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/milk; teachers can call 416-973-4000, option 5.

25th Anniversary Line-up
Belgium – Kopergietery – Beuysband
Beuysband features four aspiring young performers with different talents, but only one dream—to be discovered. What begins as a competition develops more into a performance where they discover the uniqueness of each other and hence find their own strengths. Beuysband showcases inspiring dance, vocal and musical performances.

Canada (Montreal) – Cas Public – Diary/Journal intime
Diary/Journal intime, a new dance work aimed at youth audiences, is choreographed by Hélène Blackburn, Artistic Director of Montreal’s Cas Public. Diary/Journal intime is composed of a series of duets—featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach played live onstage by pianist Laurier Rajotte. Diary/Journal intime revolves around a theme important at any age: love. Intense, energetic, a whirl of movement, Blackburn and her dancers invite the audience to share in the intimacy and power of this most personal of emotions—revealed by this most expressive of art forms. Co-presented by Harbourfront Centre Dance Series.

Internationally acclaimed, Blackburn is an audacious contemporary dance choreographer who displays an absolute passion for the dancing body. Experienced in creating work for audiences of all ages, her fiery physically demanding dance vocabulary is bold, innovative and fresh. Diary/Journal intime, the third NAC-CGI Youth Commission for Dance, a partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts, is co-produced by Cas Public and the National Arts Centre.

Canada (Toronto) – Mammalian Diving Reflex – Haircuts by Children
Haircuts by Children is a whimsical performance art project suggesting children should be given more sociopolitical power. Adults are encouraged to have their hair cut at the festival by children (ages 8 to 12) who have trained with a professional stylist. Founded in 1993 by Toronto theatre artists, Mammalian Diving Reflex brings people together, engages them, challenges them and gets them talking, thinking and feeling.

Canada (Toronto) – Sho, Mo and the Monkey Bunch
Shoshana Sperling and Maury LaFoy decided to create Christmas presents for their nieces by pooling their respective talents and giving a couple of songs as gifts. Soon, demand for this little homemade CD went beyond family loyalty. As a result, Sho and Mo began to write and compile their favorite ditties from growing up and mixed them with musical stylings that they loved. Each song pays tribute to a different musical style that speaks up to kids with musicality, humour and a little bite. Sho, Mo and the Monkey Bunch are ready to change what people think about children’s music.

France – Vélo Théâtre – There is a Rabbit in the Moon
The audience arrives in a dark entrance area where they are greeted by two actors in pajamas. “Ah, you’ve come to meet Mr. Snout, the collector of nights…for that you must put on your night clothes.” An armoire opens to reveal dozens of pajamas on hangers that are distributed to all the spectators, young and old. The audience is invited to hear Pedro’s mother tell Thomas Snout, the collector of nights, a bedtime story. Seated on a crescent moon, the audience is transported into starry nights, scary nights, and silent nights, into a night-time world of tin soldiers, silk ballerinas and a 1950s Cadillac that shoots up into the galaxy. This magical production for younger audience members combines vivid imagery, fantasy and imagination to create intimate storytelling at its very best. (Production also performed in French.)

Germany – Puppentheater Halle (Kulturinsel Halle) – Hansel & Gretel and Can You Whistle, Johanna?
Hansel & Gretel, the beloved Brothers Grimm classic tale of the abandoned siblings, is brought to life by the enchanting wooden marionettes of Puppentheater Halle (Kulturinsel Halle), known as one of Europe’s best puppetry companies.

The magical marionettes of Puppentheater Halle (Kulturinsel Halle) breathe life into Ulf Stark's award-winning novel in this humourous and extremely touching tale of intergenerational friendship. Can You Whistle, Johanna? is about young Berra who wishes he had a grandfather to love, one that he could eat cake with and teach him how to whistle. Ulf, Berra’s friend, comes up with a brilliant idea. Ulf suggests that Berra choose a grandfather in a retirement home. Can You Whistle, Johanna? is a theatrical adaptation of the award-winning book by Ulf Stark who was awarded the German Prize for Children’s Literature in 1994.

Germany – TheaterGrueneSosse – Henry the Fifth
Follow England's naive but endearing king to France, where he ends up starting a war with the new French king and falling in love with Princess Catherine who is determined to be Queen without marrying anyone. In this humourous adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, a sand castle within a boxing ring, battalions of balloon soldiers and a sparkling chandelier provide the backdrop for the staged conflict between French and English kings, with beautiful Catherine caught between the two. Henry the Fifth is funny and creative with themes of war, gender, humanity, wealth and history. (Production also performed in German with the support of the Goethe Institute.)

Mongolia – Mongolian National Song and Dance Ensemble TUMEN EKH
The Mongolian National Song and Dance Ensemble TUMEN EKH celebrates 800 years since the founding of the Mongolian Empire with the enthronement of Genghis Khan as king of Mongols. A colourful, authentic, energetic display of the folk arts of the diverse Mongolian ethnic groups, including a presentation of the once-banned Tsam (giant mask) dance, khoomi (throat singers), dancers, contortionists and an orchestra of traditional instruments including morin khuur (horse head fiddle) and yadag (zither).

The Netherlands – Peter Zegveld – Cooking with Zegveld
With his home-made instruments, inventor and thinker Peter Zegveld makes the world around us vibrate. As an artisan, Peter visualizes the way sound is created. A visual experience of sound as music, sound as images. Peter’s aim is to play without an actual purpose, as only children know how. In Cooking with Zegveld, the audience is granted a peek into Peter’s acoustic kitchen where he uses physical principles, the way light, air, sound and gravity work to produce a symphony of interesting sounds.

Poland – Warsaw Village Band
Founded in 1997, the Warsaw Village Band features six young, talented musicians that play violin, suka (unique polish fiddle), cello and various traditional Polish drums. The band has dedicated itself to conserving and experimentally enhancing nearly-forgotten Polish folk music and techniques—connecting tradition to a modern aesthetic.

U.K. – Sophia Clist – Stretch
Designed by U.K. visual artist Sophia Clist, Stretch is a dynamic canvas of creativity that invites the audience to interact and play. Stretch is a wall made of hundreds of strands of fine elastic under tension, stretching from wall to wall. The structure radically alters the architecture of the space it occupies and it is altered by the hands and bodies of those that press against it. Different light conditions conversely reveal it as something densely solid to the transparent. Stretch invites interaction, quietly provoking the viewer into physical engagement, to manipulate it, and to discover its potential to transform and to be transformed. Stretch is also animated by dance and music performances.

U.S.A. – Dan Zanes & Friends
Grammy nominated Dan Zanes, the former lead singer and songwriter for the legendary rock and roll band The Del Fuegos, and his band perform cool music for enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers. “The band’s frequent live shows create the happiest concert vibe since Woodstock,” says New York Magazine. During the first part of every performance, the audience is invited to sing along before things heat up and ultimately dissolve into an all-ages dance party. Zanes sings and plays the mandolin, banjo, harmonica, autoharp and electric guitar.

Other not-to-be-missed festival activities include the LEGO Creative Play City; here budding architects and aspiring urban planners can create dream communities and ideal cities. Calling all book-lovers! ALOUD: a Celebration for Young Readers provides festival-goers with a fabulous opportunity to enjoy captivating readings by acclaimed writers, discover amazing books and get creative with hands-on activities. Inspired by the performances seen at the festival, kids are invited to leave their mark and contribute to a large-scale art installation through painting, music, projection, pod-casting and more, part of Natrel KIDfusion. Toronto photographer John Scully works with students from the Toronto District School Board to explore the concept of Beauty, resulting in the photo exhibition, Eye of the Beholder, part of Natrel KIDfusion. The exciting Milk Art Alley features fabulous activities including Gallery Kids, Fashion Design Academy, and Draw Me A Story.

BEAUTY
Is beauty defined by personal tastes or perspectives or can we apply some universal standards? From January through May 2006, Harbourfront Centre invites audiences to examine the idea of beauty through various events and programmes. Beauty is part of an ongoing exploration of ideas-based programming at Harbourfront Centre.

The Milk International Children’s Festival of the Arts is sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and generously supported by Agropur, Division Natrel, LEGO, Good Humor Breyers, Canadian Heritage, the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council.

*Contribution towards Harbourfront Centre Facilities Renewal Fund.

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