The Luminato festival in Toronto never fails to bring at least one revolutionary performance each June. Laurie Anderson, the Kronos Quartet, Einstein On The Beach are just a few.
This year, it was “Tanya Tagaq presents Nanook of the North”
Here is what was promised in the festival’s program:
I knew Tanya is putting up a show on stage – I remembered her performance with Kronos Quartet at Luminato 2007, when she introduced the rather static group of string players to stage movement, to great effect -) They were moving around her, surrounding her, following her.
So here she was again: barefoot, free flowing long hair, gesturing and following the story in the movie, and liberating those unearthly sounds that became her trademark.
And then breaking the pattern with sweet, ethereal passages – a fascinating score composed by Derek Charke.
The show went on without a break for an hour.
There are plenty of deep feelings in the movie even without the soundtrack: the life of eskimos – as it was described in 1922 when the movie came out – is a daily victory of life upon death. But when Tanya starts screaming and grunting at the killing of a seal, or howling when the alpha dog does in the movie….that’s powerful!
My friend Raz – an artist himself and son of artists – argued that the whole hour of concert was similar to 60 minutes of sexual climax, as it is with any artist reaching that far: it’s about life winning over death, and sexuality is part of it. Totally agree.
As far as I’m concerned, starting today Tanya goes right up there with Meredith Monk in my list of essential artists.
Tanya Tagaq website.