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Alert: Please note, From Weeds We Grow workshops are now taking place on July 20, August 17, September 14 and October 12 @ 12pm.

Catching Up: Arts in the Parks June Events!

The 2024 Arts in the Parks season has fully kicked off and events are happening all across Toronto. In these first few weeks of getting started, we’ve seen dancing, poetry, garden stories, and more. If you’re looking to catch up on any events, read along as one of our summer staff takes you through what she’s been able to attend.  

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Open Jam’s Belly of the Beatz, at Earl Bales Park on June 8, popped off with a dance workshop at the park’s amphitheatre. Bringing in American dancer Popula to lead, the afternoon’s workshop was a combination of his motivational speeches and popping techniques. He inspired the array of kids and adults in attendance to share their moves with confidence.  

Open Jam’s aim is “to keep the legacy of street dance culture, specifically “popping”, alive by creating spaces and opportunities for exchange, knowledge-sharing and growth” (Open Jam Collective). Keeping in touch with this, the 90-minute workshop spilled into an open jam session where anyone could remain on the stage and continue dancing. Many folks chose to stay grooving while others waited for the evening dance battle that was to come.  

A large group of attendees dance on an amphitheatre stage while music is played. They are surrounded by trees in the background.

Photo by Holly Hebert

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Tender Possibilities, led by Farhia Tato, made its way to Guild Park and Gardens on June 9 for an intimate poetry workshop. Although pouring rain was on and off throughout the afternoon, participants said the dreary weather only added to the atmosphere. With two tents covering blankets for sitting, around 20 folks sat cozily together, attentively reading and taking inspiration from Tato.  

With more to come throughout the summer, “this series explores six themes—Origin, Memory, Migration & Movement, Resistance, Nature, and Rebirth—in a cycle that aligns between the summer solstice and autumn equinox” (Tender Possibilities). Sparking creative thought and using a meditative environment, participants left the first workshop feeling reflective and thoughtful.  

Farhia Tato facilitates a group poetry session. Attendees stand around and sit on blankets under canopies surrounded by trees while Farhia speaks.

Photo by Holly Hebert. 

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Described Toronto’s Hopewell Garden Audio Story took place at Walter Saunders Memorial Park Thursday, June 20. This guided walk around the park’s garden was led by native plant expert Lorraine Johnson who was mic’d up to make the presentation available online. Described Toronto “[welcomed] attendees, both in-person and virtual, to experience the fascinating world of native plants and be inspired by the hope that is cultivated when natural habitats are restored” (Described Toronto). 

Although last Thursday evening saw thunder and lightning, attendees and artists alike came equipped with rain gear and the audio story went on, with on-site listeners absorbed in Johnson’s talk. After a walk through and around the garden, the sun peeking out every so often, the group found a dry spot for the Questions and Answers segment. With the event being transformed into a podcast after the live walk and talk, in the Q & A, any folks who asked a question would also appear in the podcast.  

A group of people listen to a talk on a path next to bushes and a garden.

Photo by Holly Hebert

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On Saturday, June 22, at Raymore Park, African Women Acting (AWA) had their first workshop of four in djembe drumming. Unfortunately, due to the impending thunderstorm, the Maori Haka dance workshop they’d planned for the afternoon was cancelled. For the drumming workshop in the morning though, the sun was shining while participants were “introduced to a variety of drumming styles that [were] taught through a very friendly, simple, and engaging manner” (AWA).  

In the lush park, AWA was able to find enough space under a large tree to set up for the workshop. Chairs were placed in a circle with drums accompanying them, and leading the workshop was Gbenga Nathaniel, who created an exceptionally welcoming space. Participants slowly joined and soon enough all the drums were in use, each creating sound in tandem. More challenging beats were tried, some singing was involved, and an original beat was created by a participant, with the help of Nathaniel. 

Photo by Cynthiya Sri.  

Find more information about Open Jam Collective here.  

Find more information about Tender Possibilities and upcoming events here.  

Find more information about Described Toronto here.  

Find more information about African Women Acting (AWA) and upcoming workshops here.  

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