© Hamza Abouelouafaa

Roots and canopies

“We want to talk about art” – this was Lebanese choreographer Ali Chahrour’s clear, unambiguous answer when asked what he and his team wanted to discuss with FTA’s audiences. His piece كما روتها أمي / Told By My Mother, the opening performance of the Festival’s 18th edition, exalts the power of maternal love fueled by the joint energies of loss and hope. Chahrour, who remains determined to create his shows in Beirut, reclaims a space where other narratives and lives are embodied, sources of both rapture and mourning. This year’s Festival programme does not try to escape the world’s disorders by any means, but we too are calling for poetry, for a recognition of the complexity around us, and the possibility of telling stories in a different way.

Whether we’re making love to flowers or to the cosmos, the impulse towards life is ever present in the dozen premieres that will see the light of day at the Festival. Plants talk, a dog sings, a griot defies the machine. Altogether, the artists seem to be telling us that nothing is universal: neither fundamental family ties, nor the truths of History, nor the binarity of old and new, still less that of genders… If this planet we live on is on fire, shouldn’t we rely on different kinds of relationships and learn to use other languages as fast as we can?

Our minds are turned to conspiring with plants and drawing inspiration from their radical solidarity, as Canadian anthropologist Natasha Myers suggests. Ecological practices, she reminds us, are a way of aligning ourselves with Indigenous resurgences. The knowledge and future-oriented thinking of First Peoples artists, from the Ingas of Amazonia to the Bundjalung of Australia, are essential to this year’s programme.

And then trees are everywhere in the Festival: the boreal and Amazonian forests coexisting in Nigamon / Tunai; the endangered trees honoured in Being Future Being; the burials under cork oaks in Catarina and the Beauty of Killing Fascists; the flamboyant canopy of Carte noire nommée désir. Not to forget ’io’tià:ke’s trees, our daily companions, and the olive trees of Palestine that are constantly on our minds. FTA’s third Decolonial Ecology Day, which gathers a remarkable family of artists, thinkers and knowledge keepers, is dedicated to them.

Two people are signing these words, but the Festival couldn’t happen without hundreds of busy hands and hearts. The extended FTA team, glowing and ambitious, never wavers! We are grateful to our generous Board of Directors, to our donors and partners who make a real difference, and to our audience, a splendid group of people that includes us all and is the very reason for our existence. This year, Uruguayan artist Tamara Cubas will harness the power of the collective to create an artistic occupation of the Place des Festivals with 80 local participants. Long live the multitude!

Martine Dennewald et Jessie Mill
Co-artistic Directors



© Hamza Abouelouafaa

The world to come

The 18th edition of FTA—my twelfth and last as executive director—promises to be a magnificent occasion. In the following pages, you’ll discover twenty shows that will awaken your desire for bold and unique visions.

Founded in 1985, this great festival is a vibrant showcase for our collective ideals. The artists bringing their stories and new worlds to our stages are truly exceptional. Each spring, we have the incredible privilege of welcoming over 200 of them to Montreal, this year from places as far-flung as Uruguay, Lebanon, France, Australia, the United States, Portugal, Côte d’Ivoire, England, and Colombia, among others.

The world that was is nearing its end. The world to come is still to be imagined and constructed, based on the connections we will establish. Many of us in the cultural field are hard at work on this, along with those of you from the community, academic, business, and environmental sectors. Here at FTA, dance and theatre enrich our society by embracing all possibilities. Like you, we recognize art’s undeniable capacity to tackle what happens next with both power and discernment.

Our team, who have spared no effort in preparing this celebration of the arts, deserve a special mention for their dedication. I also want to express my profound gratitude to all our partners, donors, and volunteers. We promise that this year’s edition will be an extraordinary adventure and hope many of you will join us for it. We can’t wait to see you at the shows!

David Lavoie
Executive Director