COC Events: Free Concert Series (Bboyizm) & Fine Wine Auction

For an upcoming post, I have been researching free things to do in Toronto (stay tuned) and I stumbled upon a wonderful program called the Free Concert Series offered by the Canadian Opera Company. And…they are holding their 13th Annual Fine Wine Auction at the Design Exchange tonight, and I am on their media list. Today is all about the Canadian Opera Company for me – fun times!

According to their website, the COC is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Their home has been the Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts (145 Queen St. West, at University) since 2006. It’s a beautiful building, and was built specifically for opera and ballet performances and (apparently) delivers unparalleled acoustics. I have passed the venue hundreds of times, but never have had the opportunity to go to an event until today. Click on the above link for more information.

FREE CONCERT SERIES

About the series: From September to July, the COC offers free concerts and dance events in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts. The space is beautiful – open yet intimate, with a beautiful northwest-facing view of Queen & University. The series features the following themes: vocal, jazz, dance, piano, chamber and world music. Performances are held on most Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-1 pm, with some held on a Wednesday or from 5:30-6:30 pm. Doors open at 11:30 am, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. According to on-site staff, line-ups often start at 10:30 am. The amphitheatre has bench seating for 100 people, with space at the back for those in a wheelchair. When seats run out, it is standing room only. Or if you don’t mind, you can stand by the railing or plop yourself on the floor; anywhere you like, if you are comfortable and can see the performance of course! All ages are invited to attend, as long as the young ones can remain quiet throughout the performance. Click here for more information about the series, and to download their event calendar.

Re-cap of event: so I went to the performance today to see what this Free Concert Series was about. I had tried to go a few days ago, but arrived at 12:02 pm – apparently too late as the amphitheatre is very intimate and no latecomers are accommodated. So today, I made sure to arrive a little earlier…but was met by a crowd of over 100 eager fans. Definitely standing room only when I arrived at 11:54 am. But I found a lovely spot by the elevators that overlooked the amphitheatre; completely do-able for an hour of slightly uncomfortable seating on the floor.

The theme today? Dance series: Bboyizm “The Evolution of B-boying”. I had no idea what to expect, and was a little unsure given the crowd ranged from three year-olds to eighty year-olds. But it was an absolute packed house…so I knew it was going to be good. I learned today that B-boying is a dance form that started in the 1970′s, with roots in funk music and African-American culture. B-boying (a.k.a. Breaking) has and continues to be a very unique form of dance. Bboyizm is a dance company who is committed to promoting and maintaining the authenticity of street dance. To promote their upcoming shows at the Enwave Theatre (Harbourfront Centre, 231 Queens Quay West) this weekend: Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14, they offered a preview of their show “The Evolution of B-boying”. Taking us through the ’70s (Soul Train – remember that?), ’80s (Hip hop) and ’90s, the dancers brought the eras to life through their costumes, music and of course amazing street dancing. It may have been a hard crowd given nearly half of the audience wasn’t even born in the ’70s…but the energy definitely picked up at the end when Bboyizm split into two “crews” and did a dance battle. Better yet, Bboyizm invited people from the audience to show off their own street dancing skills. Let me tell you, some of them killed it especially a three year-old boy (who initially came off as super shy).

Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos during the performance…but thankfully the COC team tweeted the above photo. Overall, super fun and I look forward to checking out other Free Concert Series events. What a great, fun, FREE thing to do! And if you can take an extra long lunch hour, what a great escape from the office madness. In the mean time, if you want to check out Bboyizm this weekend, go to Danceworks for more event info and to buy tickets.

 

13TH ANNUAL FINE WINE AUCTION

One of the COC’s signature events, the Fine Wine Auction is on tonight at the Design Exchange (234 Bay St.). It will be an evening where 400 wine enthusiasts will mingle starting at 6 pm., bid on some very fine wines, and participate in a silent auction. All proceeds of course go to the COC. This will be my first visit and I am really looking forward to attending. I’ll report back with a re-cap of this event soon! Click here or on the above link for more information…tickets still available!