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Spatial Poetics XV is hauntingly beautiful

Ghoulish lanterns lit the way to the Powell Street Festival Society‘s annual collaborative performance event, Spatial Poetics XV. The event saw its 15th anniversary this year, bringing together a diverse mix of Japanese-Canadian artists under the theme of ghost stories.

Each year, Spatial Poetics asks artists to work together and push beyond their comfort zone to create new performance-based work. The result is stunning, outside-the-box, inter-disciplinary performances, usually united around a particular theme.

This year’s event, curated by Powell Street Festival artistic director Mark Takeshi McGregor, took place on Saturday, June 25. The evening featured two performances. The first was a live visual art piece with real time watercolour calligraphy by Eileen Kage, projected onto a screen, accompanied by taiko drumming and singing by Linda Uyehara Hoffman. The performance was inspired by Spanish, First Nations, and Russian ghostlore, and was punctuated with beautifully scary moments.

The second half of the show presented a traditional Japanese ghost tale, “Mujina, the Faceless Ghost”, a story of taunting and terrible faceless creatures in the night. Told through butoh dance and solo viola, the piece featured dancers Jay Hirabayashi, Barbara Bourget, and Stefan Smulovitz who was also the composer.

The show ended with a reception where guests and artists could mingle and help themselves to some sushi and refreshments.

The Powell Street Festival is an annual event that happens in and around Oppenheimer Park and Alexander Street. This year, Canada’s largest festival of Japanese arts and culture, celebrates 40 years on July 30 and 31 with a weekend full of live performances, martial arts, beautiful crafts, and delicious Japanese food!

Spatial Poetics turns 15 tonight! Photo: Jay Hirabayashi at yesterday’s tech check. #powellstfest #spatialpoetics

A photo posted by Powell Street Festival (@powellstfest) on