Jamii's 3rd Annual Children's Festival
August 18 - 19 - 20
4pm to 6:30pm
Berkeley Castle - 250 The Esplanade
Toronto's only children's parkour festival for the arts, Wayo, was an invitation to uncover a world of wonders for children and their families. Designed as a whimsical journey through the Berkeley Castle and Berkeley Theatre with arts happenings at every turn, this unique experience was filled up with music, dance, crafts, storytelling and more!
With Wayo, children and their families stepped into a magical arts experience while engaging in conversations around social, and environmental justice issues that impact our local and global communities. Wayo featured amazing artists including dancer Raoul Wilke, singer and musician Aline Morales, hoop dancer Valentina Morelli, storyteller Monique Diabo and many more!
"My daughter saw the time keeper dancing and told me she’s going to dance like that! She LOVED the drums - I almost couldn’t get her to move on. She wanted to heal the cracks in the water (which almost meant touch the water lol) and added that love will heal the water."
- Audience Member
"Wayo is now the highlight of the summer for my daughter. She raves about it to her friends and teachers at daycare!"
- Audience Member
Photos: Jae Yang
Wayo 2022's Artist Line-Up
Monique Diabo (Storyteller) is of Mohawk and Taino descent, originally from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, Quebec. Monique is an accomplished multi-disciplinary artist; actor, visual artist, singer, dancer and choreographer. She recognizes the importance of imbedding Indigenous pedagogy into all facets of life in order to strive to cultivate equitable and transformative spaces; free of shame and blame.
Sarah Abusarar (Storyteller) comes from a long line of storytellers on her paternal side. She tells stories to both adults and children. Sarah has told stories both nationally and internationally at festivals in Canada, United Arab Emirates, Bosnia and Croatia. Because, Sarah, grew up in several countries she tells stories from all over the world with the focus on Palestinian and Croatian stories where her roots lie.
Aline Morales (Singer) A dynamic singer, percussionist, and bandleader. With the release of her debut solo album, the Juno Award nominated Flores, Tambores e Amores, she gained national attention, widespread critical acclaim, and the album reached No. 1 on Canada’s folk/world charts.
Linda Epp (Face Painter Artist) is a face painter for approximately 10 years. She has worked with many organizations such as the St. Lawrence BIA, Jamii, long term care facilities, local festivals and private birthday parties.
Artists' Play (Aerial Performance) focuses on proper dance and circus techniques while fostering creativity and the love of performing arts.
TrudyLee Gayle (Host) is an actor, vocalist, choreographer. She holds a BFA Honours degree in Dance from York University in Toronto and completed an Independent Study Program at The Ailey School in New York, NY. She has choreographed for studios, schools and city-wide events and initiatives for the City of Toronto and beyond.
Barbara Johnston (Host) is a Toronto based performer and a Dora nominated writer, director and choreographer. She has choreographed for Outside the March, The Musical Stage Company, and for TV shows Orphan Black and Netflix series Ginny and Georgia. She has worked extensively with show choir champions The Wexford Gleeks and has composed music and musical directed for four seasons of Expect Theatre’s ‘Beats and Intentions’ project. Barbara is co-artistic director for Wannabe: A Spice Girls Tribute where she tours internationally as Ginger Spice.
Tara Moneka (Singer) is a singer from Iraq sings in different types of music and different languages , (Arabic,English, Indian, Latino, Moroccan , African, Turkish, and more). She has a female band consisted of professional multicultural players. She is also an advocate for women's rights. Tara's goal is to share different music types with people and to be multilingual that represents the diversity of the world.
Raoul Wilke (Mover), a multifaceted Dora Award winning artist, is the co-founder of The Moon Runners dance crew and the CEO of FeedYourSole. His choreographic work extends into film and theatre, artistic directing and coaching for artists such as Dillion Anthony’s “Love That We Found, Tyra Jutai’s “New Shoes” and Abhithi’s cover of “7 Rings“.
Jadyn Hardie-Bardy (MC/Poet) is a queer Mohawk and Jamaican poet and beader living in Tkaronto. Her work explores culture and land reconnection, destigmatizing monoliths, and overcoming adversity.
Miss Coco Murray (Stiltwalker) Miss Coco Murray is an award-winning social entrepreneur, cultural arts programmer, arts educator, mentor, instructor, and writer in the dance sector. Murray's work in education and community settings centers on cultural education, the African diaspora and culturally-responsive arts programming under this mobile, dance education business.
Monica Garrido (Host) (she/her) is a Mexican born Toronto based Queer Artist. Her short films have premiered at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival. Her first solo show “The Cunning Linguist” won the 2016 Queer Acts Audience Award and was recently adapted as an Audio Show for Aluna Theatre’s Studio Series. She’s part of the ensemble of the Canadian Comedy Award winning show Sketch Comedy Extravaganza Eleganza.
Valentina Morelli (Hoop Dancer) (she/they) is an Italian/British mixed, queer, musician, dancer, composer and multi-instrumentalist from Toronto, Ontario. Valentina performs and records original music professionally under the name MOONBEAN as electronic duo; as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist with multi-award nominated rockers - The Johnnys, as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist with the up and coming - Red Rhythm and Blues; and with several other projects based in Canada. Valentina has performed and facilitated Hula Hoop Dance workshops at festivals all over Canada including Snow King Festival (Yellowknife), Hillside Music Festival (Guelph), Vibrant Arts Festival (Brampton) and many more.
2021 - Jamii's 2nd Annual Children's Festival
300 guests enjoyed a mesmerizing parkour through the Berkeley Castle & Berkeley Theatre,
and discovered a series of delightful performances for children of all ages.
August 19 - 21, 2021
In partnership with Canadian Stage and Berkeley Theatre
An artistic footprint for Esplanadian families to encounter
Written by Sharon Zarita
22nd Aug, 2021
"Wayo, a children’s festival produced and presented by Jamii, was the ultimate compensation for all the live art children and young audiences have been deprived off lately. The three day festival gave attendees an intimate multi-arts experience through a journey of performances at Berkeley Castle and Canadian Stage’s Berkeley Theatre.
Curated to reflect its Swahili meaning of footprint, eight stages with different groups of artists awaited to gift the attending families a lasting creative mark for the summer. At each stage, the attendees had three minutes of a solo performance, and thereafter engaged by ring masters in an informative post-show analysis. Empty lawns, parking lots, staircases, building corners were all designed and utilised as COVID-safe outdoor stages.
Attendees were invited to the parkour by the bleating sounds of CORPUS “Les moutons” sheep. The children look on as a shepherd strolls by the shed to feed the sheep and are left to their own imagination in this display of real life characters in theatrical costumes. “I think that one is a person because he has a beard,” a 5 year old whispers to the dad who challenges her guess with a reminder that goats have beards too.
Next they are ushered to a henna booth for a culturally inspired keepsake on their palms. Each child gets to pick a design and while it’s being drawn they are informed on the origin of henna. As the henna dries up, a soft violin tune begins to play in the background which they can’t resist but follow it. The violinist, Saraphina Violin, is joined by lollipop lyra performers Aelxandra Legendre and Eman Hillawi, whose snake-skin costumes in a calming blue hue make the children gasp. Here, they come in close proximity with artistic elements like sounds, movement, set up, wardrobe - and are able to internalize it all without distractions often found in crowds when this performance happens on large platforms. As it ends two sets of claps fill the empty lawn, and even though the artists are used to a more fulsome standing ovation the looks on their faces say this personal performance was just as delightful."
Photos: Jae Yang
"If a dollar was donated for every time a child mentioned the next stage as their favourite Jamii would already be planning next year’s festival. They participate in a giraffe trivia show by Kristi Heath, then are tasked with a toss game to put a ring around the giraffe’s neck. It rebirths zoo experiences they love and have missed.
The next three performances happen in the Berkeley Theatre, starting with a powerful percussion and opera duet in the Baillie Theatre by Jonelle Sills, Sergio Xocolate and Suzanne Roberts Smith. At an outdoor corner naturally decorated with a wall plant, they engage with a flamenco dance by Carmen Romero, accompanied by cellist George Crotty. They are offered a toy bird needing a home to take care of. Afterwards, they get to dance and sing along to West African beats and chants of Lua Shayenne and Cécé Haba. As each family takes their turn to be front row guests to these performances, one cannot help but appreciate how the festival has introduced the community to artistic spaces within the neighbourhood that are inaccessible to some.
The festival wraps up with a ride on Kisanii Hub, Jamii’s mobile theatre. It cycles around the empty Canadian Stage parking lot, celebrating how this experience has enabled young audiences to experience and enjoy live arts within a COVID world. On their way out, they choose a book to take home from a collection of BIPOC authors. Tayaa, 10 years and Nazaree, 12 years both pick “Amina’s Voice” saying it feels like the girl with curly hair on the cover was calling to them. The two applaud the festival for combining different cultural genres and art forms making them feel like they were on an art tour around the world. Parents in attendance appreciated how this will have a positive effect in the creative development of the children.
For the second year, Jamii has successfully offered the arts in a palatable and personal way to young audiences at Wayo Festival. Huge appreciation to them for this much-needed artistic experience. If you missed it, follow @JamiiEsplanade on social media for snippets of the performances. Join the backbone of this festival whose support makes the festival free and open to all, donate at www.jamii.ca/donate."
Sharon Zarita is a Kenyan arts administrator at Lakeshore Arts and Editor-in-Chief of Sekoya Magazine, the premier East African crafts and culture publication.
FEATURED ARTISTS (in order of appearance):
Photos: Jae Yang