My Luminato

We caught up with some notable Torontonians to find out what they're most excited to see at Luminato this year

May 3, 2018 | BY: Luminato

The temperature is rising, the birds are chirping and the number of daylight hours is slowly extending - Luminato is right around the corner! We're excited to launch #MyLuminato: your sneak peek into what some notable Torontonians are most excited to see and do at this year's festival.  

We'll be releasing more #MyLuminato picks in the weeks leading up to the festival. Watch this space and follow along with the #MyLuminato hashtag on social media. Share your top festival picks with us using #MyLuminato and tagging us @Luminato in your posts! 


Sevaun Palvetzian // @CivicActionGTHA / @SevaunP
CEO, CivicAction

Seavaun's #MyLuminato picks:
RIOT - "Social commentary mixed with dance, drag, circus, and spoken word? All the ingredients for a great night out. It's going to be a RIOT, so settle in."

Amal Clooney in Conversation with Nick Clooney - "Talk about a wonder woman, Amal Clooney is a tireless champion in the fight for justice. I know she will walk the talk and ignite that passion in others. We can't all be married to George Clooney (Well maybe in our dreams), but we all have a role to play in creating a just society for all."

NO GOING BACK - "As the CEO of CivicAction, I know that conversations about diversity and gender are not just an optional course you take in university. They are a lifelong curriculum of learning and understanding that needs to be at the center of how we approach change. #Metoo showed us the power of a movement in the digital age, now it's time to move that energy offline and transform the power structures that continue to keep people out."

Same as it ever was: Mentally Speaking - "Did you know that one in two people in the Toronto region have experienced a mental health issue? And that over the next 10 years, this could result in an almost $17 billion in lost productivity? From boardrooms to the streets, it impacts all of us. Compassion comes from understanding. Mentally speaking, we can't afford to miss this."

Michael Bonacini // @MichaelBonacini / @oliverbonacini
Co-founder/ Celebrity Chef, Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants/ Judge, Master Chef Canada

Michael's #MyLuminato picks:

At The Illusionist's Table - "As a devout foodie, I'm very excited for the sights, smells and tastes of At The Illusionist's Table. What could be better than an evening of fine dining, whisky tastings, and storytelling magic?"

Instruments of Happiness - "Paying tribute to the late, great George Harrison, Instruments of Happiness is definitely a can't-miss event. I just love the idea of bringing together hundreds of electric guitars and ukuleles for the public to enjoy."

MasterChef Canada Season 5
airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c on CTV.

Iskwé/ @isKwee

Iskwé's #MyLuminato picks:

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala - "A lot of folks don't know this, but I actually started my path in the arts through dance. I danced non-professionally with several dance companies in both Canada and the US for over 20 years and Swan Lake was always my all-time favourite ballet! I love watching people interpret new from old, giving room for the evolution of creativity to exist. I'm really looking forward to this production!"

Game Changers: Inspiring Women - "This collection of documentary films highlights some of the awesome women who have taken on the role of change-makers and revolutionaries. I'm excited to learn more about each of them, and hope to find additional inspiration for continuing on in their footsteps, as I strive to make change while honouring the legacies of the ones before us."

TiKA - "I've been hearing so much about TiKA's shows lately that when I saw she was performing at Luminato this year, I immediately bought tickets!! I have a feeling this is the show we won't want to miss."

Vote for Iskwé in the SOCAN Songwriting Prize here.

Gaëtane Verna // @ThePowerPlantTO
Director, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Gaëtane's #MyLuminato picks:
Swan Lake/Loch na hEala
Burning Doors
Hell's Fury, The Hollywood Songbook

"As we eagerly await the beginning of Luminato 2018 and all it encompasses, I am reminded of my belief that in the context of the world, our ability to communicate and to connect with each other is a key component of the possibilities that art and artists convey and share with us all. We are citizens of the world and these four programs speak to what connects us and our shared human experiences. In order to survive, we must be active listeners and agents of change and exchange. I am looking forward to seeing, listening and experiencing the insight into the human experience that these performances will bring to me and to everyone who makes time to see them.

I look forward to meeting you out there at Luminato!"

The Power Plant collaboarates with fashion house Max Mara to present Power Ball XX: Carousal on May 31, 2018.

Peter Herrndorf // @CanadasNAC 
Chair Designate, Luminato
Outgoing President & CEO, National Arts Centre


Peter's #MyLuminato picks:
Swan Lake/Loch na hEala - "Who can resist an idea as intriguing as an Irish take on a Russian classic? This contemporary interpretation of a ballet favourite promises to tickle the imagination. Its sold out success and rave reviews from performances around the world make it a natural choice."

RIOT - "An evening that combines dance, drag, circus and outrageous spoken word HAS to be provocative and entertaining. I was drawn to this show because it promises to be unique, fun and unforgettable."

NASSIM - "The power of language and the impact of words are at the heart of what will surely be a unique and creative evening of theatre."

We're delighted to have Peter Herrndorf, "the most successful, influential and beloved leader in the performing arts in Canada", join Luminato as Chair of the Board. Listen to Peter reflect on his life and career in the arts here.

Hannah Sung// @HannahSung/ @TVO
Manager of Digital Video & Podcasts, TVO


Hannah's #MyLuminato picks:
The Fever - "Experimental theatre" that is performed "in collaboration with the audience" is normally the kind of thing that would terrify me. No, I'll just sit in the dark while you do your thing on stage, thanks. But the goal of this experience, to break down unseen walls, is something that I'm kind of obsessed with these days. Plus, I think if we need anything from art right now, it's to shake us out of our collective lull and empower us to change ourselves. Because the answer isn't out there in other people, it's in ourselves."

Out the Window - "I'm really interested in the relationship between truth and fiction and how artists create one from the other. I'm also interested in the drama and high-stakes moments that go unnoticed when we don't create narratives around them. This is a play sparked by the chance witnessing of a man's violent encounter with police in the city's west end, where I live. The Luminato program calls this a "docudrama", which is a term that's new to me when it comes to live theatre. For all those reasons, I'm looking forward to seeing what this performance is all about."

Le Grand Continental - "I'm super-into public art and crowds that have joyous energy. I hope to bring my kids, who are just discovering dance, to Nathan Phillips square for this massive dance performance. Totally ready to mom-dance and cajole them into joining in at the end."


Claire Hopkinson, M.S.M // @artslover25 / @TorontoArts/ @TOArtsFdn
Director & CEO, Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation

Claire's #MyLuminato picks:
Malpaso Dance Company with Arturo O'Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble - "This is a rare opportunity to see the work of three stellar choreographers performed by an outstanding international dance company. It's just something I can't miss."

Le Grand Continental - "This large-scale, community-engaged creation underlines the essence of Luminato: it's fun, ambitious and inspiring. I love the combination of international artistic excellence and local public participation, it's sure to ignite the internal dance fire in everyone involved!"

Dr. SILVER: A Celebration of Life - "Sometimes there are artists of such exceptional merit, you just have to see everything they produce. This is the case for #TOArtsAwards finalist Britta Johnson and her sister Anika, who are boldly changing the musical theatre landscape in our city. This is an exciting opportunity to get a sneak peek into their artistic process!

Read more about the finalists of the 2018 Toronto Arts Foundation Awards here.

Michael Greyeyes // @MichaelGreyeyes
Actor & Artistic Director, Signal Theatre


Michael's #MyLuminato picks:
cris derksen: Ally and Kinship - "I've been a fan of cris' music for a number of years and I love the idea behind this show. I saw her live in Vancouver a number of years ago and was just blown away. She was up there playing the cello and working laptop and foot-pedals and I just loved how she made music. What she does in terms of mixing live music with looped and layered, recorded performance is really wicked. I have known her to this point as a soloist- what is wonderful about Luminato is how it gives artists increased scope to experiment and collaborate- so I absolutely have to see this show which brings her together with an amazing group of artists."

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala - "I've actually performed the traditional Swan Lake with The National Ballet of Canada so I have a classical context that makes me very excited to see Keegan-Dolan's version. Swan Lake has always been a magic realist piece in a strange way the story was drawn from Russian folk mythology so this interpretation, inspired by Irish folk culture and contemporary social issues, is a natural re-examination. I love when artists cross-pollinate aesthetic and re-imagine classic works this is the kind of work I personally aspire to."

Burning Doors - "I had previously heard of Belarus Free Theatre's work through Volcano Artistic Director Ross Manson. Ross had run some workshops with members of BFT that I really wanted to participate in but couldn't make, so I will not miss the opportunity to see them when they're back in Toronto. I believe absolutely that theatre is political whether intended or not and I love how explicit these creators are in speaking about freedom. Politics is fundamentally about bringing people together in groups around ideas; whether we chant or march, when we gather to collectively share ideas and artistic expression, we are being political."

Michael Greyeyes co-stars in Woman Walks Ahead with Jessica Chastain in theatres later this summer and can be seen in the third season of HBO's True Detective and as the lead in Jeff Barnaby's new feature film Blood Quantum.

Andria Wilson // @andriawilson / @insideoutTO
Executive Director, Inside Out


Andria's #MyLuminato picks:
RIOT - "Reading this description felt like remembering some fantastic dream I had- Drag! Circus! Spoken word! Glitter! AND iconic Irish drag queen Panti Bliss. Sold."

NO GOING BACK - "This lineup of speakers is epic, and while I will attend literally any talk on intersectional feminism, this one looks to be particularly life changing. I will be attending this to fill up my tank of inspiration to continue to fight the patriarchy."

Game Changers: Inspiring Women - "Love this lineup of docs putting badass women in the spotlight. Truth or Dare remains one of the most seminal music documentaries of all time, and the opportunity to see it in cinema again in this context gives me so much joy."

The 2018 Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival runs from May 24-June 3 at the TIFF Bell Lighbox and other venues throughout Toronto. 

Matthew Jocelyn // @canadianstage 
Artistic and General Director, Canadian Stage


Matthew's #MyLuminato picks:
DR. SILVER: A Celebration of Life - " Who wouldn’t want to be immersed in the wit and wonder of Britta and Anika Johnson as they invite us into yet another one of their playful and musically enchanting adventures. I’m in!" 

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala 
- "Only Michael Keegan-Dolan would dare take the world’s most iconic ballet and turn it into a searing, uncompromisingly modern tale of hope, loss and abandonment. It is a beautiful work, at once excruciating and touched by grace. Please don’t miss it."  

Out the Window - "I have been lucky enough to see two previous iterations of Liza Balkan’s Out the Window. Now under Sarah Garton Stanley’s assured hand and wide-scope vision, I’m so looking forward to (and slightly terrified by) the ongoing discussion this beautifully crafted theatrical offering enables around violence in our world."  

Celebrate Matthew Jocelyn's ninth and final season with Canadian Stage at the Theatre Ball After Party

The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson // @ APClarkson / @ ICCICC
26th Governor General of Canada (1999-2005)/Co-Chair, The Institute for Canadian Citizenship


Ms Clarkson's #MyLuminato picks:
Instruments of Happiness  - " I’m so excited to hear the hundreds of ukuleles and guitars in Instruments of Happiness. I’ve always loved these sounds and, of course, I love George Harrison. " 

Swan Lake/Loch na hEala 
- "The idea of an Irish company meeting the magical swans of Swan Lake is fascinating and intriguing! I can hardly wait."  

DR. SILVER: A Celebration of Life  - "I’ve always loved secrets, and if I’m going to be given a peek behind the curtain of the top secret process of how a cult musical is made, I’ll be there!"  

Vivek Shraya// @vivekshraya


Vivek's #MyLuminato picks:
TiKA - "I have had the honour of singing and performing with TiKA (who is also prominently featured on my album, Part-Time Woman) and from these experiences, TiKA has generously bolstered my confidence, urging me to believe in my voice. This generosity extends to the stage, where TiKA is the embodiment of pure joy, which she beams out to the audience." 

Madonna: Truth or Dare  
- "I recently re-watched Truth or Dare and it blew my mind how ahead of the times Madonna was when making this film, especially with regards to self-documentation. The doc features so many memorable quotes, including: “Dear Lord, this is our last night in Toronto—the fascist state of Toronto.” Also, god I miss 16mm."  

Vivek's newest book I'm Afraid of Men, will be published by Penguin Canada in Fall 2018


Greta Hodgkinson// @GretaHodgkinson / @nationalballet
Principal Dancer, The National Ballet of Canada


Greta's #MyLuminato picks:
Swan Lake/Loch na hEala - "Swan Lake is one of the most famous stories in ballet and one that I have danced many times so I am always curious to see other interpretations of this beloved classic. I am particularly interested in how this story will be told in a more contemporary way, using the choreographer’s Irish background as its inspiration. I look forward to a new and refreshing experience!" 

Amal Clooney: In Conversation 
- "I have been a huge fan of Amal Clooney since it came to my attention that she was paramount in acting as counsel in a case arguing for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. As a descendant of a survivor of this Genocide and a proud Armenian, I am extremely passionate about its recognition by the rest of the world. This evening will be a riveting conversation with one of the world’s foremost experts on human rights injustices, as well as an educational and illuminating experience."  

Greta will next appear onstage in the world premiere of Robert Lepage and Guillaume Côté’s Frame by Frame, June 1-10 at The National Ballet of Canada

Sandy Hudson // @sandela
Co-founder, Black Lives Matter Toronto and Co-Host, Sandy and Nora Podcast.


Sandy's #MyLuminato picks:
Anita - "Our society is rightly grappling with the consequences of gender-based violence and sexual assault with more intensity as of late. At times like these, it’s important to revisit the actions that Black women like Anita Hill took to challenge sexual harassment from powerful men." 

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra - "I have always loved the percussive energy of Afro Latin music, so this is a natural pick. There’s nothing quite like seeing live Afro Latin music. You will definitely catch me there; I’ll be the one dancing close to the front."

Out the Window/Black Lives Matter 
"I am very excited about an event I am involved with – the Out the Window production and the subsequent Black Lives Matter panel. I’m so eager to see the elements that have been added to this mount of a show, especially the visuals by the incomparable artist Syrus Marcus Ware. I’m also looking forward to the conversation I will have with fellow Black activists Idil Abdillahi, El Jones and Norman Otis Richmond after the show on 22 June. Don’t miss it! These are some of the most inspiring people I know."

Sandy takes part in the Black Lives Matter panel discussion after Out The Window, June 22 at 9:30 PM

Ravi Jain // @instantravi / @theatrewhynot
Artistic and General Director, Why Not Theatre

Ravi's #MyLuminato picks:
The Fever - "The 600 Highwaymen create beautiful theatre that blurs the lines between audience and performer. It’s surprising and incredibly moving - I’ve been wanting to see this show for a very long time!"

NASSIM - "I saw this show in Edinburgh and Why Not Theatre has partnered with Luminato to bring it to Toronto. It’s an incredible, funny and surprisingly touching story that we get to discover through a new actor each time! Each night, a different actor gets and reads the script for the first time. It makes for a magical experience."

OUT THE WINDOW - "I was the Artistic Director in Residence at the Theatre Centre when this show was being created. It is powerful and sadly more relevant today than it was when it was created. With Sarah Garton Stanley as director and the addition of Syrus Marcus Ware, this show will be provocative and has the power to change the world."

 is presented in association with Why Not Theatre and runs June 7-16 at the Berkeley Street Theatre

Tickets for all of these My Luminato picks are available on our website right now.
Stay tuned for more My Luminato and don't forget to follow along and share using #MyLuminato!