It’s a wonderful week here in Montreal: spring is here and the entertainment is literally fantastic, from Cirque du Soleil to The Little Prince to Pinocchio, from classical musical performances to a cutting-edge digital arts festival, plus comedy, dance, theatre, film, rock n’ roll and roller derby!
(small wonders) Travel to a far-away place of poetry and profundity in Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ The Little Prince, choreographed by The Netherlands’ Didy Veldman, to May 12 at Place des Arts. Regional Dance America holds its National Festival here in Montreal, with performances each evening until May 5 at 7 p.m. at Place des Arts. And daring contemporary dance and live rock music unite at Cabaret Gravel at Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario E.), featuring performances curated by Montreal choreographer-dancer Frédérick Gravel, presented by Theatre LaChapelle, to May 4.
(circus acts) The newest bright-lights-and-daring-feats show from Cirque du Soleil, Amaluna, transports us to a moon-ruled world of wild women, love and rock n’ roll, at the big blue and yellow tent in the Old Port of Montreal, to July 19. There are fewer laser lights and bombast in Montreal-made show God Save Circus, but all the classic circus acts are here, from contortionists to acrobats to clown cabaret, right downtown at Théâtre Sainte-Catherine, May 4-5, 8 p.m.
(digital imagination) The 13th edition of international digital arts festival Elektra, May 1-6, features astounding art installations, music, film and performance by Meat Parade, Novi_Sad, Jean Piché, Mihai Grecu, Herman Kolgen, Projet EVA, Jean-Pierre Aubé, Vincent Morisset, Schnitt and many more. Shows take place around town and coincide with the ongoing International Digital Arts Biennale at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts – see music from Alva Noto there on May 4 and an audio-visual installation by Berlin based artist Carsten Nicolai beginning May 5. Other galleries participating in the Biennale include tech-savvy SKOL and Oboro as well as at the Ancienne Ecole des beaux-arts (3450 St-Urbain) and SAT.
(classical season) Spring comes alive in music as The Orchestre Métropolitain teams up with several Montreal jazz artists to play tunes from Debussy to Duke Ellington, at the Maison symphonique de Montréal at Place des Arts on May 10. The dramatic crescendos of classic film scores – including Star Wars and The Godfather – come to real life with The Orchestre Symphonique Pop de Montréal at Théâtre Outremont on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. And there’s still a chance to see the Kent Nagono and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire on May 5 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal. Speaking of which, the Montreal Chamber Music Festival puts on a series of free public concerts, May 5-9, giving us a taste of the upcoming festival – the Frolic Brass Quintet plays classics and film music every evening at 6:30 p.m. at Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme, centrally located in the foyer of Place des Arts.
(theatre life) 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. Over at Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal, SideMart Theatrical Grocery re-launches their award-winning show Haunted Hillbilly, about a country musician and a vampire. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Geordie Productions’ family-friendly, high-energy adaptation of Pinocchio, to May 6 at Centaur Theatre.
(comedy weekend) If laughs are what you’re looking for, then comedian extraordinaire and frequent the late-night talk show guest Dan Naturman is the answer – he’s at the Comedy Nest Pepsi Forum, May 3-5. Plus there’s the great, sometimes strange, comedy of May the Fourth Be with You, featuring some of Montreal’s funniest improv and stand-up comedians, and a late-night dance party too, on May 4 at the Freestanding Room (4324 St-Laurent), 8 p.m.
(world-wide views) The 2012 Vues d’Afriques Festival du Cinema, April 27-May 6, brings us unique images and stories with universal touchstones, from throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the African diaspora in feature films, shorts and documentaries. And this year’s Festival Accès Asie, May 3-19, features film, dance and music performances, art, literature and history presentations of Asian culture in its many identities and styles, under the theme “Stories from Afar.”.
(something different) If you’re looking for something a little different – and very Montreal, in a more underground way, then Montreal Roller Derby might be the very thing. The league’s 2012 season starts this weekend begins this weekend, on May 5, with teams New Skids on the Block and Les Sexpos going head-to-head with Philadelphia’s Liberty Belles and New York’s CNY All-Stars – at Arena St-Louis. In that same underground vein, this Saturday night’s Art Battle at Fresh Paint Gallery (180 Ste-Catherine E.) will also be something to behold. From 6 to 11pm, DJs play tunes to have a good time to while six teams of artists create illustrations and paintings on a 8ft x 8ft surface – this time inspired directly by classical artwork.
(music land) Eleanor Friedberger (of Fiery Furnaces) goes solo at Il Motore (179 Jean Talon W.) on May 5. Brooklyn’s Bear in Heaven comes out of hibernation May 4 at Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), while experimental folk-guitar wows with PG Six and Harris Newman across the street at Casa del Popolo. Soft-rock the night away with Chris De Burgh at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts for two nights, May 7-8. All the way from Mali, the wonderful Khaira Arby croons with her band at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on May 7. None other than Irish lovelies The Cranberries come to Métropolis on May 8. British dubstep producer Rusko rattles Metropolis, May 9, while the inventive indie rock of Xiu Xiu and Dirty Beaches fills La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent). And NYC indie synthesizer genius Neon Indian plays Cabaret du Mile End on May 10, while Montreal’s Rome Romeo and Silver Dapple rock La Sala Rossa.