The Montreal streets are alive with the sights and sounds of spring this week – and on top of that it’s Montreal’s birthday! Whether you’re here for a raucous weekend or a pleasant Mother’s Day, Montreal is in a festive mood, with everything from theatre, dance and circus shows to mind-expanding art and body-grooving live music.
(happy birthday, montreal!) On May 17, the Fête de Montréal celebrates the founding of Montreal 370 years ago (the city doesn’t look a day over 150, really!), with a day-long program of entertainment throughout the Quartier des Spectacles (from Place Émilie-Gamelin to Place des Festivals), featuring 250 artists at 40 venues. The free fun happens in two-hour blocks starting at 7:30 in the morning, again at 11:30 a.m. and in the evening at 4 p.m.
See made-in-Montreal performances from professional musicians, a gospel choir, theatre troupes, dancers, comedians, circus artists, even a large-format live painting session by the RGB collective. In the meantime throughout the week at Quartier des Spectacles, check out the music-making swings along President Kennedy Avenue – yes, hop on and hit musical notes while you swing. Only in Montreal.
(dancing away) Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ The Little Prince, choreographed by The Netherlands’ Didy Veldman, takes us to a planet of poetry and profundity in to May 12 at Place des Arts. Tangente closes its season with Bancs d’essai internationaux, a series of performances from young artists from around the world, at Monument National, May 11-12. And learn to salsa – or show off your already-honed salsa skills – free of charge with choreographer and live music from, at Bal du Dimanche at Place des Arts, May 13.
(circus burlesque) Yes, two things Montreal knows how to do and do eccentrically: circus and burlesque. On May 11, Cirquatlantique brings ancient Rome – the mystical, lavish one – to Montreal in their action-packed, Montreal-star-studded show Arena, hosted by Plastic Patrik, with hors d’oeuvres, bar service and live music, all fittingly taking place at Bain Mathieu (2915 Ontario Est), a historic public pool in the city’s east end. A circus of its own sort, the 2012 roller derby season continues at Arena Saint Louis (5633 St-Dominique) this Saturday!
(picture shows) There’s still time to catch exhibition Anatomy of a Disappearance at the always-excellent DHC/ART, located in Old Montreal, showcases the brilliant, somewhat eerie, somewhat darkly humorous photography of Taryn Simon, captivating video work by Omer Fast, Philippe Parreno, and José Toirac, and an installation by Teresa Margolles, only to May 13. Dazibao photography gallery, located at the Cinémathèque québécoise screens The Fountain and the Fall by artists Philippe Hamelin & Julie Tremble. And the McCord Museum features rare artifacts of Hollywood history – with a Canadian twist – in exhibition Mary Pickford and the Invention of the Movie Star.
(theatre time) Old Montreal’s Centaur Theatre re-launches SideMart Theatrical Grocery’s award-winning show Haunted Hillbilly, about a country musician and a vampire – fun times! Puppets, dark comedy and fairy tales combine in Scapegoat Carnivale’s The Heretics of Bohemia, a dream-like odyssey set on the mythical Bohemian seacoast, playing at the Segal Centre to May 19. Also at the Segal, top-notch Canadian actors star in Bernard Slade’s romantic comedy Same Time Next Year, to May 20. Neil Simon’s comedy Rumors gets a local run ending May 12 at Théâtre Ste-Catherine, while Montreal-made Poutine Masala fuses the tastes of Quebec and Bollywood in the story of a young Quebecois man who falls in love with an Indian woman, at Mainline Theatre, May 16-27.
(digital delights) Montreal’s International Biennale of Digital Art continues at the Musée d’art contemporain with a massive audio-visual installation by Berlin artist Carsten Nicolai, while at the SAT, Ulf Langheinrich’s 360-degree immersive video Hemisphere engulfs our senses to May 26, and theatre project Dieu est un DJ explores how we communicate and spend time together when we’re not on the internet… And beginning on May 17, the Quartier des spectacles hosts Parcours Numérique, a high-tech outdoor urban art experience that turns the facades of eight downtown buildings into projection screens for video art from Herman Kolgen, Vincent Morisset and more Montreal artists with international profiles, to June 3, in collaboration with Mutek and Elektra.
(music in motion) Friday night starts the week out hot with a celebration of 50 hits from the greatest Black Divas in music history, with the powerful vocal stylings of Kim Richardson and Marie-Alice Depestre, at Theatre Corona. Meanwhile, women rock out as La Sera (with Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls) plays Il Motore. Get down to the reggae sound on May 12 at Club Soda at the 20th anniversary of Little Thunder Sound, starring Jamaica’s I-Octane and plenty of other artists and DJs. Dance the night away to the updated club sounds of swing at Speakeasy Electro Swing at La Sala Rossa on May 12. Sitar virtuoso Ustad Shujaat Husain Khan welcomes the public to an evening of Sitar and Sufi Songs on May 13 at Oscar Peterson Hall. Sweden’s We Are Serenades make a joyful sound at La Sala Rossa on May 13, while Musicalizm: The Best of Stevie Wonder brings joy to Cabaret Mile End. Former Fleet Foxes member, J. Tillman goes solo as Father John Misty, with opener Har Mar Superstar, May 15 at Petit Campus. And musical genius/eccentric R Stevie Moore comes to town with Bobby Conn, on May 17 at Il Motore.