Review: Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Luzia’ (Jul 28 2016 – Oct 16 2016)

A WAKING DREAM OF MEXICO

LUZIA takes you to an imaginary Mexico, like in a waking dream, where light quenches the spirit and rain soothes the soul.

Freely inspired by Mexico, LUZIA is a poetic and acrobatic ode to the rich, vibrant culture of a country whose wealth stems from an extraordinary mix of influences and creative collisions – a land that inspires awe with its breathtaking landscapes and architectural wonders, buoyed by the indomitable spirit of its people.

The tableaux of LUZIA weave an intricate, contemporary mosaic that awakens your senses and transports you to a place suspended between dreams and reality.

LUZIA

The name LUZIA fuses the sound of “luz” (light in Spanish) and “lluvia” (rain), two elements at the core of the show’s creation.

AN IDEA OF MEXICO

There is not one, but many Mexicos – Mexico is an ever-evolving country as complex as it is diversified. It is the result of an extraordinary mix of influences from abroad over the course of many centuries.

Instead of representing Mexico in a realistic fashion, the creative team of LUZIA decided to create an evocation of this monumental country. They imagined a dream woven from memories, experiences and encounters, laden with inspirations deeply rooted in Mexican identity.

Even this invented Mexico is complex and multifaceted, hence the idea of a journey – in both the literal and figurative sense – through a series of fragments, all highly meaningful and evocative. “A fragment is like a pebble you slip in your pocket, keep close to your heart and safeguard like a cherished memory”, explains show director Daniel Finzi Pasca.

Water as a source of inspiration – Integrating the element of water to a Big Top show is a first at Cirque du Soleil. The idea of placing a water basin under the stage floor and creating a rain curtain paid huge dividends on the acrobatic front.

The element of water enabled the creators to take the Cyr Wheel out of its usual context. Two artists perform on the apparatus on water and in the rain, which is, at first glance, unthinkable. In order to solve the adhesion issue, a bicycle tire was mounted on the wheel rim. Great ideas look simple… after the fact.

Breaking down barriers – LUZIA explores the combination of hoop diving – a traditional circus discipline from China – and two giant treadmills to generate speed and expand the discipline’s acrobatic vocabulary. The two treadmills can operate in the same direction or in opposite directions. Sometimes artists use the treadmill as a launching pad to perform daring leaps through the hoops; when placed on the rolling treadmills the hoops suddenly become moving targets for the divers.

THE MAIN THEMES OF LUZIA

Through its set design, costumes, acrobatic performance and music, LUZIA explores various themes linked to the culture, history and mythology of Mexico, some of which may not seem connected at first glance. Thus, the show is based on themes such as speed, monumentality, rain in all its manifestations, surreal animal life, and a poetic vision of reality.

Monumentality – Visitors to Mexico may experience a certain light-headedness when faced with the staggering beauty of the country’s landscapes, forests and nature, but also with the richness of its culture and the splendor of its architectural wonders.

Speed – It is natural to associate Mexico with the idea of speed. One needs only call to mind the uncanny ability of certain people in Mexico, such as the Tarahumaras, who make seemingly superhuman efforts on a daily basis, deriving great strength from their deeply spiritual perspective of life.

Rain in all shapes and forms – In Mexico, there are as many types of rain as there are clouds that produce it – from the refreshing showers of Coyoacán, an iconic neighborhood at the heart of Mexico City, to the torrential rains that sweep across Baja California, to the plentiful autumn rains, as violent as they are sudden. In the diversified geography of Mexico, rain is part of the collective consciousness and has a narrative force all its own.

Surreal menagerie and poetic vision of reality – The fascination of the Mexican people for the animal world is as evident in the country’s traditions and mythology as it is in its traditional arts and crafts. This special connection with nature and animal life stems from a poetic – and even magical – vision of reality. This is apparent in the Mesoamerican concept of the nagual according to which the spirit of an animal lives in every human being from birth; this spirit protects and guides the individual throughout their life.

REVIEW:

Cirque Du Soleil’s “Luzia” (theatrical run July 28, 2016 – October 16, 2016) is a feast for the senses. Explosions of colour, acrobatic feats, glorious vocal arrangements and story lines emblematic of what can only best be found in traditional Mexican lore is yours for the taking in one sitting at “Luzia”.

As the imaginary ‘flight director’ states at the beginning of the night, “Hold On Tight”. It was indeed an accurate request.  “Luzia” draws you in to the climate, ambiance and history of Mexico.  We experience the theatrical fabric of the country, fiesta paper lanterns and green landscape on a grandiose circus stage under a blanketed white tent that is friendly, comforting and provides for a wonderful goodbye to the summer as we enter the autumn.

The motifs of rain and water throughout the performance was transformative, relaxing and offered a respite between scenes. In a sense, the water that fell from the roof of the tent acted as a make shift waterfall symbolic of those found in Mexico.  In one segment, the water produced images of dancing fish, blooming flowers and ornate Mexican motifs.  Truly mesmerizing!

The treadmill that sits on the “Luzia” stage is robust and ornate. The acrobatic artistes jump, leap and dance on the treadmill with ease.  A running fairy is chased by a metal horse to the amazement of the audience.  These scenes make Cirque Du Soleil great!  The fairy’s wings stretch out to reveal gorgeous butterfly wings within the first five minutes of the show.  A collective excited sigh was heard from the audience anticipating what more is to come.

Dancing sisters take on large hoola hoops and keep us entranced as an acrobat dances above them. Children laugh as the clown ushers the audience between scenes and gently teases members with his cheekiness.  A contortionist steals the show with skills reserved for solo moments meant only for a candle’s flame and an empty stage.

As the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) approaches it maybe worth checking out Luzia” before it closes on October 16, 2016.   “Luzia” is enticing and exciting for a family night out and yet sensuous and sophisticated for a date night with friends or loved ones.  You will truly feel awakened to all Mexico has to offer after taking in “Luzia”.

https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: Beethoven & Tchaikovsky Ticket Giveaway

CONCERT PROGRAM

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35

  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Canzonetta: Andante

III. Finale: Allegro vivacissimo

Esther Yoo, violin

Intermission

Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60

  1. Adagio – Allegro vivace
  2. Adagio

III. Allegro vivace

  1. Allegro ma non troppo

Peter Oundjian conductor says, ‘Two brilliant young musicians make their Canadian débuts with us in this concert of music by the masters. Karina Canellakis begins the concert with Mozart’s zesty Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, one of his wittiest and most engaging works. This is truly Mozart at his finest—ebullient, tuneful, energetic, and full of surprises. Esther Yoo then joins the Orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s great Violin Concerto, one of the most famous works in the repertoire. Tchaikovsky’s success with audiences probably comes from his endlessly inventive melodic gift, his ability to spin out memorable melodies effortlessly. The Violin Concerto is also a true showpiece for the soloist. Considered unplayable when it was written, it’s now a cornerstone of the concerto repertoire. Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony, on the other hand, is less well known to audiences than the two mighty giants on either side of it, the Third and Fifth Symphonies. But many musicians consider it to be one of the composer’s most masterful works—it’s hugely attractive, with some of Beethoven’s best melodies and a truly dazzling finale.’

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a pair of tickets to Beethoven & Tchaikovsky Ticket Giveaway for their Saturday October 8, 2016 performance!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me you why you want to win the Symphony tickets.

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and The Music of Abba Ticket Giveaway is Wednesday October 5, 2016.

Here’s the scoop!

Twitter: @TorontoSymphony

Facebook: facebook.com/torontosymphonyorchestra

YouTube: youtube.com/torontosymphony

Instagram: instagram.com/torontosymphony

About the TSO: Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally. Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; and music-education programs that reach tens of thousands of students each year.

https://www.tso.ca/

Toronto Symphony Orchestra: The Music of Abba Ticket Giveaway

FUN FACTS ABOUT ABBA

  • Before they were “ABBA” (the initials of the members’ first names), the band was known as “Festfolk”, meaning “party people” in Swedish.
  • ABBA’s greatest hits album, Gold, is one of the best-selling records of all time.
  • ABBA was well-known for performing in outrageous, sparkly outfits. Part of the reason they did so was for tax purposes—according to Swedish laws, the cost of clothes for performance (i.e. could not be worn as normal street clothes) was tax-deductible.
  • ABBA was one of the first groups to use videos to promote their music. Most of them were directed by Lasse Hallström, who received Academy Award nominations for the films My Life as a Dog and The Cider House Rules.

Steven Reineke conductor says, ‘Mamma mia, here we go again! Welcome to the first TSO Pops concert of the 2016/17 season! I’m delighted to welcome back to the TSO stage the extraordinary Finnish vocal ensemble, Rajaton, to perform the greatest hits of 70’s Swedish pop sensation, ABBA. As always, Rajaton bring their infectious energy and dazzling vocals to interpret the music of one of the most commercially successful music groups of all time—ABBA’s songs continue to remain ever popular, decades after they hit No. 1 on worldwide music charts.  And it’s not difficult to see why—especially when you hear them with the full forces of your Toronto Symphony Orchestra!’.

Thank you to our friends at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for gifting Thirty Four Flavours with a pair of tickets to The Music of Abba for their Tuesday October 4, 2016 performance!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Ticket Giveaway?

Simple! Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me you why you want to win the Symphony tickets.

Deadline for the Thirty Four Flavours and The Music of Abba Ticket Giveaway is Saturday October 1, 2016.

Here’s the scoop!

Twitter: @TorontoSymphony

Facebook: facebook.com/torontosymphonyorchestra

YouTube: youtube.com/torontosymphony

Instagram: instagram.com/torontosymphony

About the TSO: Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally. Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; and music-education programs that reach tens of thousands of students each year.

https://www.tso.ca/

Review: Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) – Friday September 16 – Sunday September 18, 2016

Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) always promises a good time.  It’s a late in the summer kinda happening that brings only the best in folk rock artists and deliciously sound foodies to its three daylong festival at Fork York and Garrison Commons.  This past Friday September 16 – Sunday September 18, 2016 fete was all about the likes of homegrown veterans, honouring our locals while still mixing it up with some international flare to keep our musical vernacular fresh.

Day 1 gave us The Hives, Skinny Lister, Jake Bugg, Modern Baseball, Dropkick Murphys and Explosions in the Sky. A mix you cannot happen upon anywhere else in our fair city on any given day.  The Hives annihilated our hearing.  Skinny Lister kept it folk rockabilly.  Jake Bugg gave us some teen dream boat vibes.  Explosions in the Sky,  let’s face it made the audience collectively swoon in good measure.  A true crowd highlight.

TURF always provides bang for one’s buck. You get variety of musical nuances and at the same time will be sure to leave with new bands that you can’t wait to tell your friends about.  Well, that is after you first pop it all over your social media accounts.

The drinks were flowing from the likes of Tropical Temptations and Smoothe Operator. The foodie in you could easily be filled with affordable yummies from Mustache Burger, 50 Pesos and Kung Fu Dawg.

The layout at TURF this weekend was all about easy accessibility. Even in the rain on Saturday, fans were seen dodging raindrops as they caught LUSH as they said hello from a long absence from Canadian shores and whilst checking their schedule to see what was next on in their rainy day schedule.

The crowd was diverse, eclectic, suits mixed with boho types with the common thread of having a hang ten chill vibe. Everyone gets along and is up for a giggle over a pint or two.  Who knew the Gardiner Expressway could evoke so much rad energy?

A crowd that could not only make Gord Downie proud was seen paying homage to the Tragically Hip’s legacy as Dwayne Gretzky played song after song from their illustrious catalogue. It was an emotional hour or two.  Fans hugged one another while kids played on the grassy hill.  TURF brings us together every year as we break bread with one another under the Gardiner Expressway and reminds us how transformative and healing music can be with good people, great tunes and a harvest moon overhead.

torontourbanrootsfest.com/

Ticket Giveaway: Toronto Vintage Clothing Show and Toronto Antique & Vintage Market (Saturday October 1 – Sunday October 2, 2016)

There is only one event that brings together the very best of vintage clothing with a treasure trove of antique and vintage décor—the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show and the Toronto Antique & Vintage Market. Both shows return to Exhibition Place in the Heritage Court (west end of the Enercare Centre) October 1st from 10am until 5pm and October 2nd from 10am until 4pm. Vintage enthusiasts will discover a world of rare finds—everything from one-of-a-kind vintage and retro clothing to a vast array of hand-picked antique and vintage décor.

Avid collectors and casual browsers will find plenty to like — everything from retro street wear to vintage Chanel hand bags. The show’s boutique-style booths allow for easy browsing and conversation with the vendors, but with thousands of vintage garments to choose from, it’s easy to spend the entire day trying things on. Whether it’s a sultry Kitten Skirt like Marilyn’s or a flirty little Bolero jacket like Audrey’s, if it was made between 1920 and 1990 – it will likely be on the show floor.

Thank you to the generous folks at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show who have gifted Thirty Four Flavours with two pairs of tickets to the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show & Toronto Antique & Vintage Market for their Saturday October 1 – Sunday October 2, 2016 dates. Send an email, tweet, or inbox me what you are hoping to find at the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show & Toronto Antique & Vintage Market next weekend. Contest closes on Thursday September 29, 2016.

Admission: $10

Discount pass available online at

www.TorontoVintageClothingShow.ca www.TorontoAntiqueAndVintageMarket.ca  

Review: Hello to HelloFresh Canada!

HelloFresh delivers “cook from scratch” meal plans straight to your door, with carefully curated, easy to follow recipes and locally sourced fresh ingredients in just the right quantities. HelloFresh helps reduce wasted leftovers and takes care of the meal planning, shopping, measuring and delivering, leaving time for you to do the fun part: cooking.

FAST FACTS

  • HelloFresh provides you with all you need for a healthy, well-balanced and nutritious diet.
  • HelloFresh’s trusted partners supply us with the best quality ingredients and HelloFresh’s dedicated team of nutritionists and chefs create the inspirational recipes.
  • Freshness comes first. Boxes are sent to the customer within 24 hours of being packaged in the state of the art boxes, and HelloFresh ensures ingredients remain cool and fresh.
  • HelloFresh reduces food waste by providing pre-portioned ingredients.
  • 850,000 subscribers globally HelloFresh ingredients are sustainably sourced and supplied by trusted partners.

HOW IT WORKS

  1. HelloFresh creates amazing recipes.   Each week their chefs create amazing recipes for you that are easy to prepare. HelloFresh meals are interesting yet simple.
  2. HelloFresh does the shopping for you Go home and kick your feet up – HelloFresh has got you covered! From creating the recipes and planning the meals, to grocery shopping and even delivering recipes and all of the pre- measured ingredients right to your door!
  3. Free delivery! HelloFresh delivers everything straight to your door, so you can spend more time on the important things in life.
  4. You prepare delicious meals in your own home. Quick and easy recipes, that don’t require any fancy equipment or techniques. HelloFresh’s mission is to help you get nutritious and delicious meals on the table.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HELLOFRESH?

Are you a subscription service? Yes, we run a flexible subscription service where you can change or amend your order if you want to take a break. Just let us know by the 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday before the following week’s delivery (Tuesday-Wednesday), so we can let our fresh suppliers know.

Can I put my subscription on pause? Definitely. If you’re traveling or would like to hold your subscription for any reason, simply log into your account and manage your subscription right there. Or email us at hello@hellofresh.ca and we will take care of it for you! Just make sure that you make these changes prior to Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. EST for the following week’s Tuesday-Wednesday delivery.

How much will I be charged each week?

Meal Pronto Box for Two – $79.99

3 Meal Pronto Box for Four – $139.99

3 Meal Family Box for Four – $129.99 – I chose this box.  It was enough food to make my lunch and dinners for the work week and the variety was perfect.

PLANS

Can I choose my meals? Unfortunately we cannot offer this right now, but we are working hard to offer you this service in the future.

Do you offer vegetarian plans? We are focusing on other products at the moment but will consider offering vegetarian boxes in the future.

Do you offer plans for people with special dietary requirements? While we don’t offer specific dietary plans, because our ingredients are delivered to you in separate packets, if you have any specific dislikes you can simply omit or replace these ingredients from a recipe.

DELIVERY

Where do you deliver? We deliver across southern, central and eastern Ontario, as well as the “near north”. We’re actively working on expanding our delivery areas and are updating our website regularly, so if you’re not in our delivery area today, please check back soon!

When do you deliver? We deliver on Tuesday and Wednesday of each week. Deliveries typically arrive between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

What if I am not home to accept delivery? If you are not home during delivery, our courier will drop the box off at your front door (or wherever you specify in your delivery instructions when ordering). If you live in an area where a box cannot easily be left, we suggest one of the following solutions:  Provide the address of a helpful neighbour that will be home during the delivery window and can accept your package for you.   If you live in an apartment building or condominium, ask your concierge to receive the box for you, or give buzzer instructions to the courier via the delivery instructions to leave the box safely inside the building lobby or hallway.

How much does delivery cost? Delivery is free!

THE FOOD

Where do you get your recipes? HelloFresh works closely on recipe development with a team of in-house chefs. Our dietitians ensure you get a balanced meal on the table. Our Head of Culinary, Irene Ngo, is responsible for bringing easy, delicious and healthy recipes to Canadian families and homes, and is always inspired by food and flavours wherever she goes!

Why is HelloFresh a healthy option? Cooking with fresh ingredients helps you stay healthy and beats any type of convenience food, frozen food or fast food. By preparing your meals with fresh ingredients you ensure that important nutrients aren’t lost. Since our chefs and nutritionists create and select recipes on a weekly basis, they are able to ensure that your diet is balanced and provides all the nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle. How many calories do your meals have? Roughly speaking, our meals contain anywhere from 500-800 calories each. Which ingredients do you assume I have at home? All you need to have available at home is salt, pepper, sugar, a good cooking oil, and butter. We’ll give you the rest!

WHAT DID I LOVE ABOUT THE 3 MEAL FAMILY BOX FOR FOUR?

I love to cook – so I know the amount of time, money and prep it takes to put healthy meals in my mouth for the week.   HelloFresh took the work out of that part of my week away for me.  This allowed me to have fun especially when my work week is so intense.

I like to make my meals for my work week in bulk. I prepare my lunches and dinners in advance on Saturday night and pop them into Tupperware containers.  So, when I am running out of the house in the morning – I just grab my meals and go.

When I cooked my yummy HelloFresh meals this weekend, my life was made so much easier just knowing I didn’t have to lug all of my groceries home with my on Friday night. I was also guaranteed fresh, delicious and a variety of foods so I didn’t get bored during my work week and then result to buying extra ‘junky’ food on my breaks at work.

Preparing the meals was even more of a love fest! The ingredients came pre-packaged and some even precut.  I just needed to cut open bags, wash and do some light cutting.  I then popped the oven or stove on and got cooking.  I had some music on in the background and sipped my wine throughout the meal prep.  What more does a single condo living girl need?!

The meal ingredients were lovingly packed. They came in an insulated box with six ice packs at the bottom of the box to keep my meats and vegetables cool.  I loved opening my box and seeing that all of the ingredients were impeccable and pristine.

The produce was Grade A in quality. The shrimp were bigger than a lime in size.  They were juicy, aromatic and fresh.  The chicken and pork from Artisan Farms was Responsible and Sustainable.  Again, gorgeous in quality and an easy cook and serve.

I marvelled at the precut sweet potatoes that were delivered to me that I tossed in Dukkah spice and cooked in just under 30 minutes. My condo was filled with its sweet essence.  It took everything out of me to not have a heaping bowl of it as a snack as I cooked my HelloFresh meals.

Think gourmet meals made simple with easy to read recipe cards by your side and photographs to give you a little extra boost.

The meals were made in the time listed on the menu cards. They were heaping and hot.  Delicious and savoury.  I happily had a plate of the Dukkah-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, Snap Peas and Citrus Sour Cream for lunch and Sesame Shrimp with Ginger Green Onion Rice and Crispy Green Beans for dinner.  I then popped the left overs into my Tupperware containers and stored them in my refrigerator.  Next week I am making the Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Onion Gravy, Broccolini and Buttery Mashed Potatoes.

I am now a HelloFresh convert! I’m already looking forward to next weekend and what I can prepare for my family and friends when they come over to visit.

https://www.hellofresh.ca/tasty/

Summer Reads with Random House: ‘Beware That Girl’ By Teresa Toten

9780385678377

‘Beware That Girl’ By Teresa Toten

The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O’Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of–some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. And she’s also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls–specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fundraising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students’ lives–especially Olivia’s, although she doesn’t share what’s going on. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal and can’t afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get with Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

http://penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/241368/beware-girl#9780385678377