Toronto in March

Last weekend, John and I traveled to Toronto for the graduate student conference at the University of Toronto: Sounding Bodies. Our friend Emily (below) was one of the conference chairs. She and John know each other through ethno and they go way back. In this photo she's standing next to Chris, our friend at U. Buffalo. The two of them each presented at our student conference last summer, and it was fun to get to see them again.

Also, at some point during the day on Saturday, they realized that they were dressed alike.

As someone who has endured many a grad conference, I have to say, the U of T did a class job. They provided breakfast, lunch, and then apps and beer at the bar afterward. And they had a great keynote: Tomie Hahn. Her presentation was partly what drew us to the conference. Tomie is an ethnomusicologist who studies Japanese dance and the bodily transmission of knowledge. And, you know, monster truck rallies. Apparently she is also quite the performance artist. The videos she showed us of herself dressed as a robot made me and John think of Björk. Tomie embodied (!) everything I love about a great keynote for a grad conference. She was friendly and enthusiastic about each student's work, she participated in every Q&A, and spent a lot of time socializing with the students. Her keynote itself was, understandably, more physical than most. At one point, she brought out a bunch of industrial sized rubber bands and showed us an exercise that involved banding about 20 of us together. 

Here she is demonstrating this on one conference participant.

I was on the other side of the room, banded to about 4 other people (including the dean, lol), so you can't see me in this picture. But here's my friend Matthew with his back to us. The exercise involved slowly moving and understanding what the people around you were doing by sensing their movement. 

Besides the conference, we got a chance to explore a bit of Toronto. I took a picture of this TD Canada Trust sign in China Town, like the country mouse I am. 

We had great soup in Korea Town. 

John and I stopped for a short breakfast at the By the Way Cafe on Bloor just before heading to the bus station. I'm sure he wouldn't want me to post this photo, but he doesn't read this blog, so it's ok.

Delicious fruit, yogurt, and granola bowl.

We took a long walk from the cafe to the bus station, through the U of T campus. Sunday was St. Patrick's Day and we stumbled upon several groups getting ready for some kind of parade. We saw the old timey fire trucks. 

And the Philippine Heritage Band. 

Somehow this marching band in a St. Patrick's Day parade seemed very Canadian to me - in a good way. Canadians have told us often that while America is a melting pot, Canada is a "cultural mosaic" (or tossed salad, depending on who you ask). Immigrants who move here aren't expected to give up their cultural traditions in the same way immigrants in America are expected to conform, or so the narrative goes. For me, this parade exemplified that idea, in that, a parade celebrating Irish heritage featured multiple marching bands from local Asian communities. The attitude seemed to be, "Let's have an Irish party! Everyone's invited!"

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