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Experience Day(s) of the Dead
Saturday November 3 and Sunday November 4 at Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, October 17, 2007 - Harbourfront Centre and the Consulate General of Mexico concoct a cultural seance celebrating the Day of the Dead on Saturday November 3 and Sunday November 4. This ancient Mesoamerican festivity and a prominent Mexican national popular holiday (November 1 & 2) remembers ancestors by bringing their memories to life through a vast array of family oriented activities. Due to the popularity of this event, Harbourfront Centre and the Consulate General of Mexico will showcase these vibrant traditions with TWO full days of free music, crafts, dance, storytelling, altars, visual arts and food.

Day of the Dead takes place at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West) on November 3 and November 4 from noon to 6 p.m. each day. All events are free and are suitable for all ages. For information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com

Day of the Dead highlights (complete listings below):

Music: Acclaimed Mexcio City based composer and pianist Eugenio Toussaint performs with his Eugenio Toussaint Jazz Trio (November 3 and 4 at 3:30 p.m. in the Brigantine Room). In the last few years Touissaint has received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Classical recording and was also nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Classical Album. Touissaint is also known for his work with Paul Anka (as his musical director) and as an originator of the Mexican Jazz scene - due to his ground breaking work in the 1970s with his group Sacbé and due to his involvement with Roberto Aymes in the Jazz band Blue Note. Toronto Norteńo group Tequila-tor will perform at 1 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m. on November 3 and November 4 in the Lakeside Terrace.

Sugar Skull Crafts: Mexico sugar skull artisan Gerardo Sánchez Acevedo provides workshops and demos in the art of sugar skull creation (November 3 and 4 at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. - The Loft). Sugar skulls are traditional folk art from Central and Southern Mexico, used to celebrate Day of the Dead. They are colourfully decorated with icing, pieces of bright foil and coloured sugars. The name of the deceased loved one is often inscribed while the name of the recipient is often on the skull's forehead. Families take skulls to the cemetery to decorate the tombs on November 2. Sugar skulls are gifts given to both the living and the dead.

Community Ofrendas/Altars: Ofrendas are an integral part of Day of the Dead. In Mexican homes observant families create an ofrenda and decorate it with items they believe are attractive to the souls of their departed ones. Flowers, food and memorabilia prized by the departed are displayed to entice the souls of the dead to return to take part in the remembrance. At Harbourfront Centre seven ofrendas are featured from the Latin Canadian Cultural Association, the Mexican Professionals Group of Canada, Mexico Abroad, Enlace Community Link Inc., Cien Mujeres Mexicanas, Ex-A-Tec and the Mexican Consulate in Toronto (November 3 and 4 - noon to 6 p.m. at the Marilyn Brewer Community Space).

Dance: The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company has been performing a repertoire that embraces the cultural diversity of authentic dances, costumes and traditions from diverse regions within Mexico for over two decades, thrilling audiences large and small. (November 3 and 4 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Brigantine Room).

Film: The animated short film Hasta Los Huesos (Down To The Bone) is an inventive and animated look at death. It tells the story of one man’s arrival in the land of the dead. Once he gets there, he realizes that it’s not so bad. Directed by René Castillo in 2001, this animated short has won numerous international awards.
(Screenings in the Studio Theatre on November 3 and 4 at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.)

Food: Chef Antonio Romero of El Jacalito restaurant provides an array of Mexican cuisine for purchase at Café Mexico (November 3 and 4 - Miss Lou’s Room - noon to 6 p.m.) and will demonstrate Secrets of Mexican Cuisine in an one hour demo at 3 p.m. on November 3 and 4 - Lakeside Terrace).

Marketplace: Mexican arts and crafts from jewelry and ceramics to Day of the Dead memorabilia. Vendors include Rocio Jewelry, Rafael Mateos/Barrio Mexicano, Ferivan - Mexican Expressions and Laura Bonovota (West Arcade, November 3 and 4, noon to 6 p.m.).

Children/Families: A Mexican Arts and Crafts workshop for children with members of the Mexican Social and Cultural Foundation takes place on November 3 and 4 at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. in Classroom 1.


What is the Day of the Dead?
The original celebration can be traced to Mesoamerican native traditions, such as the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli (July), ritually presided over by the "Lady of the Dead" (Mictecacihuatl), and dedicated to children and the dead. The festive mood comes from pre-Hispanic society beliefs that regard death not as the end of life, but rather as an awakening or rebirth in the land of the dead. In the post-conquest era the festivities were moved by Spanish priests to coincide with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (Halloween). The end result is that Mexicans now celebrate the Day of the Dead during the first two days of November. The modern festivity is characterized by the traditional Mexican blend of ancient aboriginal and introduced Christian features.

What happens during Day of the Dead?
Generally, families welcome the dead back into their homes and/or by visiting the graves of close kin. At the cemetery, family members spruce up the gravesite, decorate it with flowers and enjoy a picnic in addition to interacting with other family and community members. In both cases, celebrants believe that the souls of the dead return and are all around them. Families remember the departed by telling stories about them. Meals prepared for these picnics usually featuring meat dishes in spicy sauces, chocolate beverages, cookies, sugary confections in a variety of animal or skull shapes, and a special egg-batter bread ("pan de muerto," or bread of the dead). Gravesites and family altars are decorated with flowers and adorned with religious amulets and offerings of food, cigarettes and alcohol. This commemoration has pleasant overtones for the observers, in spite of the open fatalism, whose interaction with both living and dead is an important social ritual.

For more information and pictures on Day of the Dead link to:
http://www.mexconnect.com/mex_/feature/daydeadindex.html and http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dead/

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Media Contact: Shane Gerard, 416-973-4518, sgerard@harbourfrontcentre.com

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