Montreal's Queer Performance Camp is a rare opportunity to create

The inaugural event is a non-corporate approach to community building that offers participants an opportunity to explore, create, perform and network.

Folks of all generations, cultural backgrounds, career statuses and practices are encouraged to join in

Jordan Arseneault (Julio Pantoja)

This weekend Montreal celebrates Pride, which will surely be anticipated by many thanks to Justin Trudeau's first appearance in the parade as Prime Minister. But there's a concurrent, brand new series of events being organized by a group of people with no official affiliation to Pride that is just as worthy of your attention.

From today through August 15, Montreal's Studio 303 is putting on the inaugural Queer Performance Camp, a non-commercial, non-corporate approach to community building that offers participants an opportunity to explore, create, perform and network through a series of daytime workshops facilitated by a wide range of "queer artist guides." It's open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, though its focus is on providing a safe space where "queer is the dominant culture." 

"I've wanted to do this for a while," says Miriam Ginestier, General and Artistic Director at Studio 303. "It affirms Studio 303's latent, queer identity. It's part of our identity and we really need to have an event that says 'queer' out loud. It is a bit of a pilot project. But I think people are really excited about it and feel that it is necessary." 

Alexis O’Hara (Sigi Pablo)

The workshops include "Hello Sunday Morning! Queer Rave Afterglow," which runs the same morning that Trudeau and company gear up for the Pride Parade. Put on  by performer, choreographer and curator Andrew Tay (who will be very busy this weekend — he also has a show at Toronto's SummerWorks), it's described as "part dance party, part ritual, totally irrational," which sounds like quite the event for a Sunday at 10 a.m. 

"We'll wake ourselves up through a guided session of unorthodox approaches to movement, queer relationships to objects and the space in which we find ourselves," Tay describes. 

Writer and performer Kai Cheng Tom will offer "Giving Birth To Yourself: Revolutionary Queer Storytelling" the morning prior. Drawing on spoken word and oral storytelling traditions, the workshop delves into "our relationships with colonization and ancestry" and aims to help participants "unlock their inner rhythms and artistic impulses." 

Studio 303's current artist-in-residence Jordan Arseneault, meanwhile, will kick off the series with "Fear Drag," a social practice workshop with a goal to "stimulate dialogue and group performance on themes of relational anxieties and fears," specifically around intergenerationality and queer social justice. 

Artists Lili Bonin and Alexis O'Hara will each offer two-part workshops. Bonin's "Hand-To-Hand For All" offers exercises "to awaken the sensitive body, explorations of touch, weight, counter-balance and easy, basic acrobatic portées." O'Hara's "Sound School For Feminists," on the other hand, is an introductory course on all things audio.

Andrew Tay (Studio 303)

The folks behind Queer Performance Camp believe there's considerable potential for community building within its workshops, and that it will work as an interesting counterpart to the spectacle of Pride.

"This is a formal village of sharing stories and giving space to people that might not always have it," says Cheng Tom, adding that the workshops are especially exciting for potentially allowing people — particularly trans women of colour like herself — to find intergenerational mentorship. 

Ginestier adds that she hopes the first edition is just the beginning. 

"I hope some magic happens," she says. "I'm hoping that a seed is planted and it keeps growing."

Queer Performance Camp. August 11-15, Montreal.


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