Artistic Director: Christie Pearson

With: Marcus Boon, Juliet Palmer, Aimee Dawn Robinson, Jim Ruxton, Darren Copeland, Margaret Krawecka, Melissa Fisher, Alexandra Gelis, M.A.M.A., Slowed DJs, Dos Mundos, Poirier, Maga Bo, Venus X, DJ/Rupture, Marcatu Mar Aberto, Uma Nota Culture, Alison Peacock, Lo Bil, Barbara Lindenberg, Victoria Cheong, Dawne Carleton, Alex Samaras, Nick Fraser, Brodie West, Linda Allemano, Doug Tielli, Charles, Davidson, Nicole Rampersaud, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, City of Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation, Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, Parkdale Activity Recreation Centre, The Music Gallery.

The Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion, built in 1922, is one of the few remnants of Toronto’s once-lively waterside pleasure grounds. It was constructed as a public change house for lake bathing with a viewing area above. It was situated amidst dancehalls, roller coasters, boardwalks, and baseball diamonds, and housed cathartic public spectacles such as boat burnings and the city’s first beauty pageant. When Gardiner’s expressway tore through the area in the 1950’s in the name of progress it condemned Sunnyside’s amusements, leaving in its wake a city disconnected from the waterfront. The Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion is now run by a food operator, its separated spaces rentable for weddings and photographs. Fire on the Water reclaimed, for one day and night, the entire Pavilion as a freely accessible public space. It was billed as a public swim-in, dance party, performance, and occupation, and was attended by over two thousand people. The lower courtyards held readings and information about the history and ecology of the waterfront, an audio piece about the history of Sunnyside by Margaret Kraweka, and snow-cone making interactive video machine by Alexandra Gelis. The central upper hall was the main dance space featuring acclaimed local, national, and international global bass DJs Venus X, DJRupture, Maga Bo, Poirier, Dos Mundos, Slowed DJs and M.A.M.A. At either end of the loggia were bathing environments I created with river-based sound installations by Juliet Palmer. The eastern temple to the sun was a heated space dedicated to the Don River featuring a feather bath lounge space. The western temple to the moon was dedicated to the Humber River and featured an ice bath meditation space. A live dance and music performance began to mark the setting of the sun choreographed by Aimee Dawn Robinson and composed by Juliet Palmer, featuring over a dozen local musicians and dancers. The performance began in the upper loggia, taking the crowd to each end of the pavilion, back down through the courtyards and around to the beach. The dancers offered a fiery fabric to the spirits of the lake in the form of a glowing canoe, which was then brought back up to the dance space victoriously to the music of Marcatu Mar Aberto Afro-Brazilian drummers. Sunnyside is an important key to our concepts and practices of culture-nature. Beneath its layers are remnants of Toronto’s dreams, from which we find seeds of a future city rich in meaning and connection.

Published: NOW Magazine, National Post, Torontoist, Hamilton Spectator