LSM Newswire

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Canadian artists celebrate Ahmed Hassan at Abilities Arts Festival

Top Canadian artists collaborate on Gala
celebrating Ahmed Hassan at
Abilities Arts Festival
showcasing artists with disabilities October 1-30

Toronto, July 18, 2011 - Abilities Arts Festival Executive Director Rina Fraticelli has announced the dates and programming for the ninth annual festival, including the world premiere of a multidisciplinary tribute to musician Ahmed Hassan (1955-2011) featuring some of Canada's top artists. Showcasing works by and about artists with disabilities working within the visual and performing arts, film and integrated art forms, Abilities Arts Festival programming runs October 1-30, 2011 in various locations across the city.

Highlighting this year's festival is The Neat Strange Music of Ahmed Hassan, a celebration of the singular artistic vision of this influential Canadian composer and musician, running October 21 and 22 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, presented in collaboration with Peggy Baker Dance Projects.

Beginning in 1981, Hassan made an important and thoroughly original contribution to the Canadian dance scene for two decades through compositions and live performances of music for a host of important choreographers including Peggy Baker, Serge Bennathan, Darcy Callison, Robert Desrosiers, Lola MacLaughlin and Tedd Robinson. In the late 1980s, he also emerged as an important presence in Toronto's burgeoning world music scene with the influential band Mother Tongue; but his socio-political beliefs found their deepest expression in 14 Remembered, a requiem for the women killed in the Montreal massacre, that Ahmed conceived, directed, performed, and ultimately recorded, in the mid to late 1990s.

Curated by award-winning contemporary dancer Peggy Baker, Hassan's wife and longtime collaborator, Neat Strange Music interweaves dance, music and film along with a reunion performance by ethno-music heroes, Mother Tongue.

Excerpts from the work of some of Canada's leading choreographers - Robert Desrosiers (groundbreaking Blue Snake made for the National Ballet of Canada in 1985), Serge Bennathan (Dora Award-winning Sable/Sand, with live vocals by Maryem Hassan Tollar) and Peggy Baker (Geometry of the Circle, Sanctum) - are performed by classical and contemporary dancers spanning three generations as well as senior students from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre where Hassan was a regular class accompanist in the 1980s.

Other programs running as part of the 2011 Abilities Arts Festival:

I See What You Mean, an interactive installation featuring recent work by internationally acclaimed documentary photographer Vincenzo Pietropaolo in continuous "photographic dialogue" with works by gallery visitors. This installation runs October 1-30 at the Carlton Cinema Gallery, and as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.

In Celebration of Our Children & Youth, two full days of music, dance and art by professional performers designed to inspire and empower young people with disabilities, running October 12 and 13 at Villa Colombo. (For schools only. Pre-registration is required.)

Portrait of the Artist as anŠ Artist Media Festival, two days of award-winning Canadian and international films about artists and innovators from the worlds of the visual and performing arts, running October 15-16 at the Carlton Cinema.

Abilities Arts Festival, a not-for-profit organization, is a forum for developing and showcasing the contributions of artists with disabilities.

Ninth Annual Abilities Arts Festival runs October 1-30, 2011 featuring
The Neat Strange Music of Ahmed Hassan: October 21-22 at the
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 400 Jarvis Street ($25 general; $20 seniors 65+, students <19, people with disabilities)
I See What You Mean: October 1-30 at the Carlton Cinema Gallery, 20 Carlton Street (FREE)
In Celebration of Our Children & Youth: October 12-13 at Villa Colombo (For schools only. Pre-registration required)
Portrait of the Artist as anŠ Artist: October 15-16 - films at the
Carlton Cinema, 20 Carlton Street ($10 general; $8 seniors 65+, students <19, people with disabilities)

Tickets and info available at 1-888-844-9991 or online at

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