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Mexican culture is alive and well at Harbourfront Centre’s
Day of the Dead festival

(November 7 – 8, 2009)

TORONTO, October 14, 2009—Harbourfront Centre’s Day of the Dead festival (November 7 & 8) brings Mexican culture to life with traditional and modern music, folkloric dance, storytelling, children’s crafts, film and delicious food demonstrations. Produced in programming partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico, this FREE family-friendly festival is an opportunity to experience this popular Mexican holiday and its vibrant traditions.

Observed for centuries, the Day of the Dead can be traced back to Mesoamerican traditions and beliefs that see death as a continuation of life. Traditionally, Latin-American families celebrate the lives of ancestors and the departed by decorating altars with flowers, sugar skulls, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and ofrendas (offerings).

All of the above and more can be experienced at Harbourfront Centre from noon to 6 p.m. each day as local artists and community members gather to commemorate this important tradition. Music highlights include Toronto-based Mariachi Fuego mixing mariachi artistry with fun and flair; Café con Pan performing traditional Mexican music influenced by African and European traditions; and hip hop group La Alianza blending Latin rhythms with hip hop beats.

Festival goers can taste the authentic Mexican cuisine from some of Toronto’s best Mexican food vendors and chefs. Pastry chefs from Pancho’s Bakery demonstrate how to make Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead); while Mole, Mexico’s famous spicy-chocolate sauce is cooked up by a local chef.

Film highlights of the festival include The Day of the Dead in Janitzo, a documentary featuring holiday celebrations in an ancient Aztec town, and Food for the Ancestors, an exploration of the Day of the Dead traditions through Mexican cuisine.

All events take place at Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West) and are suitable for all ages. For information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com.


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Media contact:
Althea Linton 416-973-4428 | alinton@harbourfrontcentre.com


Day of the Dead Event Listings:

Music:

Mariachi Fuego
Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8
2:30 p.m.
Brigantine Room
Toronto’s Mariachi Fuego offers a refreshing twist of fun and excitement to all of their performances while still maintaining a high degree of musicianship in their execution of traditional mariachi repertoire.

Café con Pan
Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8
12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m.
Marilyn Brewer Community Space
Café con Pan performs the traditional music of southern Veracruz, Mexico called Son Jarocho, a musical synthesis of indigenous, African and European traditions. Poetic improvisation, call and response singing and vigorous strumming make for an engaging and uplifting performance. Also featured in the ensemble is the percussive zapateado dancing.

La Alianza
Saturday, November 7 and Sunday, November 8
4:30 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace
Fusing the sounds of Pop, Dancehall, Cumbia and Salsa with Mexican hip hop and reggae, this duo brings a fresh twist to Latin music with their catchy hooks and lyrical melodies.

Dance:

Mexican Folkloric Dance Company
Saturday, November 7 and Sunday November 8
1:00 p.m.
Brigantine Room
With a splash of colour, heaps of fancy footwork and keen attention to detail, the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company has been performing a repertoire that embraces the diverse Mexican cultural diversity. The company explores themes of the Day of the Dead and Harvest time with authentic dances and costumes.
Family:

Ofrenda’s
Saturday, November 7 and Sunday November 8
12-6 p.m.
Marilyn Brewer Community Space, Lakeside Terrace, West Arcade, Miss Lou’s Room
Four local community organizations, Cien Mujeres Mexicanas, Mexico Abroad, the Mexican Professionals Group of Canada and the EXATEC Alumni of Canada, build altars around Harbourfront Centre to commemorate the Day of the Dead.

Storytelling
Saturday, November 7 and Sunday November 8
4 p.m.
Brigantine room
Storyteller Ronit Jinich-Weisz tells tales from Mexican mythology and the Day of the Dead.

Mexican Cultural and Social Foundation
Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8
1:00 p.m.
Miss Lou’s Room
Children are invited to make paper marigolds that are typically placed in vases or scattered over the surfaces of family altars.


Food Demos:

Mexican Food Demo –Mole
Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8
1:30 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace
Watch an expert make mole (pronounced Mo-lay) and sample this traditional Mexican dish. Mole literally means sauce, mixture, stew or concoction. In its most complex form, it can be made up of over 30 ingredients including peanuts, cinnamon, raisins, plantains, various herbs and of course chili and chocolate.

Pancho’s Bakery Pan de Muerto
Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8
3:00 p.m.
Lakeside Terrace
In celebration of the Day of the Dead, Pancho’s Bakery demonstrates how to make Pan de Muerto (Bread of the Dead). Often shaped into skulls or bones, this orange-glazed, sweet, anise-flavoured bread is specially made to place on ofrendas and graves.

Marketplace:

Mexican Craft Vendors
Saturday, November 7, and Sunday, November 8
12-6 p.m.
Various Mexican craft vendors sell Day of the Dead figures, crafts, jewelry, sugar skulls and pan de muerto.
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