This week in Montreal, it is September for real. I have to state this here because I can’t quite believe the summer is over. But, since this also means the start of a new season of arts, culture and entertainment, the reality is easier to take. This week, we’ve got a film festival for bike lovers, a fashion festival for clothes horses, a performance-art festival for those searching for something completely different, an all-weekend picnic party, Russia’s biggest military choir, adventurous art, food, music and more!
(from russia with music) The Russian Alexandrov Red Army Choir and Ensemble is coming! With precision, musical talent and a wide repertoire spanning Russian folk tunes to operatic arias, the prestigious military ensemble of 125 performers blends traditional music and dance with contemporary culture – at Place des Arts, Théâtre Maisonneuve, September 1–4. And if you’re headed to Quebec City, get your fill of Russian culture at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec at their Ballets Russes exhibition, featuring over 200 objects, including original costumes and sketches from major productions such as The Firebird, Petrouchka and The Rite of Spring, until September 5.
(bikes on screen) Bike enthusiasts gear up for the world-traveling Bicycle Film Festival, September 1–3, with five different bike-centric programs screening at the National Film Board Cinerobotheque (1564 St-Denis) – each evening, see documentaries and short films on bike racing of all kinds, environmental issues, even about how bikes have changed the world. Witness the real-steel deal at Invented: The Work of Giuseppe Marinoni, showcasing the long-time bike maker’s awesome artisinal skills, at 180 Ste-Catherine E., 2nd floor, open 1–4 p.m. And stay active at the Bike Polo Invitational, 9–4 p.m. Saturday at Parcs des Veterans (Papineau at Maisonneuve), or bring your bike, your camera and your wily ways to the fest’s official scavenger hunt, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday at the corner of De Bullion and Ontario. After parties on Friday and Saturday at the Mile End’s most happenin’ new bar, Royal Phoenix (5788 St-Laurent).
(fashion high) We may be headed slowly into autumn at the moment, but Montreal Fashion Week is way ahead of us – the fashion world’s spring/summer 2012 collection struts its stuff September 6–9 at Marché Bonsecours (350 St-Paul E.). Quebec designers are at the heart of Montreal Fashion Week, their creative diversity spinning out everything from minimalist design to European flash. Runway shows are buttressed by cocktail parties, hands-on hair-and-make-up sessions, and on Thursday, an evening-long tour of Old Montreal’s art galleries, open to all.
(foodie art culture) Month-long exploration of food, technology and community FoodLab continues in the park next to the Society for Arts and Technology in the Quartier des Spectacles, with nothing less than a game called Bingo Culinaire (September 2–3), involving collecting food from the on-site market to fill in your bingo card. If the rains do fall, go inside and spend some time with art-meets-architecture exhibition Stanley Revisited – go on a sound walk through the space, watch a multi-channel video installation, and play, I mean, interact with Vorticose, a room-sized installation of day-glow oscillating tubes. On Friday evening at 5 p.m., American artist and composer Paul DeMarinis talks about his work and his latest installation Raindance, where fountains and music come together, in Montreal at the corner of Emery and St-Denis until September 10.
(real art) Get a crash course in contemporary art at the Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal exhibition, Déjà – The Collection on Display, ending on September 4. Catch the extensive, eclectic collection on Friday before the museum’s music series, Friday Nocturnes, this time with new Montreal electro-folk favourite, Little Scream, at 7 p.m. For even more audio-visual stimulation, go downstairs and see (and be a part of) new-media art collective Workspace Unlimited interactive, 3-D, motion-detecting installation RealTime UnReal – it’s a trip, seriously.
(all-day picnic) Montreal’s renowned outdoor dance party Piknic Electronik puts on its biggest event of the year, PikniCubik, September 3–5 at Parc Jean Drapeau (also host to weekend-long inline skating event 24hr Roller Montreal). While electronic music and dancing is at the centre of this family-friendly mini festival, the weekend is filled out with outdoor movie screenings, a photo exhibit and live art by painting collective En Masse. On Saturday night at sundown, see Pink Floyd’s The Wall on the outdoor screen, and on Sunday it’s Montreal artist DJ XL5’s Videophonic Zappin’ Party, a collection of awesome musical films from the pre-MTV era. And every day at the Piknic’s third stage from 2–4 p.m., DJs Poirier and Sweet Daddy Luv play music in a zone for kids and families only, with a blow-up castle and mini-golf and everything!
(performance works) In its 8th year, art and performance Festival Escales Improbables still challenges our perception of what art is. From September 7–11, the festival sets up a wide selection of music, dance, theatre and art installations at the Quays of the Old Port, with evenings of entertainment at the Darling Foundry, including a Wednesday-night dance party with Socalled and, on Thursday, Studio 303 multidisciplinary event Singulier Pluriel, featuring The Choreographers, Caroline Laurin-Beaucage and Martin Messier, as well as French performers Olivier Dubois and Franck Dadure. And if you’ve been missing seeing live dance as much as I have all summer, Montreal choreographer and dancer Virginie Brunelle shows her newest work, Complexe des Genres, at Theatre La Chappelle, September 6– 17.
(music music music) The music week starts strong and free – literally free! – with a Friday show by Montreal rock greats Plants and Animals at La Tulipe, 7 p.m. Sometimes Polaris-prize-nominated saxophonist Colin Stetson scares me with his technical and artistic acumen – witness it September 2 at Il Motore (179 Jean-Talon). Peter, Bjorn and John, the Swedish pop-rock band that brought us one of the catchiest tunes of the 2000s (whether we liked it or not…), plays La Tulipe (4530 Papineau) on September 5 with Memoryhouse. And on September 7, let your body rock to the true talent of Toronto’s Selina Martin at L’Escogriffe (4467 St-Denis).