Skip to Content

Behind the Curtain Pre-Show Talks

pre show image

There are many unique opportunities at Civic Theatres Toronto to attend engaging and informative pre-show or post-show talks or demonstrations by experts. These ‘talks’ are as wide-ranging and educational as they are entertaining.

Attend a pre-show or post-show talk, and you can uncover a wholly new and informed insider’s perspective on what you are about to see. Do not miss the chance to be a theatrical insider.

These talks and demonstrations take place in the Lower Lobby at the Sony Centre or in the Upper Gallery at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, unless otherwise specified.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - 60th Anniversary Tour

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - 60th Anniversary Tour

Friday, February 1, 2019
Sony Centre Lower Lobby
Join us in our lower lobby for a pre-show chat with Alvin Ailey’s Rehearsal Director, Matthew Rushing and host Timea Wharton-Suri.  Together, they will explore a behind-the-scenes look at Alvin Ailey’s 60th Anniversary Tour. Arrive early for this fascinating insight into the company heralded as America’s Cultural Ambassador to the World. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Matthew Rushing
Rehearsal Director and Guest Artist

Matthew Rushing

Matthew Rushing was born in Los Angeles, California. He began his dance training with Kashmir Blake in Inglewood, California, and later continued his training at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. He is the recipient of a Spotlight Award and a Dance Magazine Award and was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He was a scholarship student at The Ailey School and later became a member of Ailey II. During his career Mr. Rushing has performed as a guest artist for galas in Vail, Colorado, as well as in Austria, Canada, France, Italy, and Russia. He has performed for Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as at the 2010 White House Dance Series. During his time with the Company, he has choreographed three ballets: Acceptance In Surrender (2005), a collaboration with Hope Boykin and Abdur-Rahim Jackson; Uptown (2009), a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance; and ODETTA (2014), a celebration of “the queen of American folk music.” In 2012 he created Moan, which was set on Philadanco and premiered at The Joyce Theater. Mr. Rushing joined the Company in 1992 and became rehearsal director in June 2010.

Timea Wharton-Suri

Timea Wharton

Timea Wharton-Suri is a dance professional with twenty years' experience directing dance productions, cultural programs, and arts education projects that are accessible to a broad range of communities. She is the creator and programmer of Uptown Moves at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, a Board member of The Dance Current, an artistic advisor to Dancemakers, and a funding advisor to the National Arts Centre and Dancer Transition Resource Centre. Timea earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance from York University, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Arts and Media Management Graduate Diploma from Schulich School of Business. She performed for several years with dance companies such as Ballet Creole and Canboulay Dance Theatre before opening a dance/fitness studio – one of the first that now proliferate in urban centres. Timea has worked for the Dancer Transition Resource Centre, TVOntario, and Toronto Arts Council (TAC), where she managed the dance and literary arts portfolios. At TAC, she worked with Canada’s largest communities of dancers and writers to administer a $2.5 million grants budget, was the architect of the What’s Your Story? and Toronto Lit Up programs, and co-developed the Long-Term Dance Projects, Cultural Leaders Lab, Performing Arts Facilities, and Animating Toronto Parks programs. Timea has served as a Big Sister mentor, taught dance to youth, and been engaged as a speaker for many Canadian cultural and educational organizations.

BJM - Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal - Leonard Cohen's DANCE ME

BJM - Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal - Leonard Cohen's DANCE ME – Friday, March 1

Friday, March 1

Sony Centre Lower Lobby

Join us in our lower lobby for a pre-show chat with BJM’s Artistic Director Louis Robitaille and Toronto-based dance critic Deirdre Kelly.  Together, they will explore a behind-the-scenes look at Les Ballet Jazz de Montréal, one of the world’s top dance companies, and provide further insight about the Toronto Premiere of “Dance Me/Music of Leonard Cohen. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Deirdre KellyDeirdre Kelly is a Toronto-based journalist, author and internationally recognized dance critic and style writer. She writes for Dance Magazine in New York, the Dance Gazette in London, and NUVO in Vancouver, and is a contributor to the International Dictionary of Ballet (St. James Press) and AWOL: Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds (Vintage Books). A staff writer at The Globe and Mail for the last 32 years, she was her newspaper's award-winning dance critic, from 1985 until 2001, before transitioning to the Style section as its senior fashion reporter in Milan, Paris, New York and cities across Canada. Her other accomplishments at Canada's paper of record include stints as an investigative reporter in the visual arts with a focus on art crime, a weekly lifestyle columnist covering the Toronto International Film Festival and celebrities, rock critic, business writer and cultural bureau chief in Montreal covering the arts in Quebec and Eastern Canada. The best-selling author of Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection, she has also written for a wide range of international titles, including Marie Claire in London, Elle in New York and Vogue Australia. Recipient of the 2014 Nathan Cohen Award for Excellence in Theatre Criticism (Long Form Category), Canada's most important arts writing prize, she is presently at work on her next book, an examination of The Beatles and their style.



Louis Robitaille

Louis Robitaille
The dancer and artistic director Louis Robitaille was born in Montreal in 1957.

Louis Robitaille was inspired to pursue a career in dance after being discovered at a high school dance performance in 1973. His natural talent attracted the attention of his physical education teacher Peter George, who was also a dancer with the Ballets Jazz de Montréal. Thanks to Mr. George's intervention, he received a scholarship enabling him to take part in the BJM summer training program. In 1974 at the age of 16, Louis Robitaille joined the Compagnie de danse Eddy Toussaint (later known as the Ballet de Montréal), where he performed and studied dance under the tutelage of a wide range of ballet masters.

His incarnation of the legendary character Alexis le Trotteur turned him into an icon of Quebec dance. At the initiative of Madam Chiriaeff, whom he viewed as a mentor, the young dancer was recruited by the Grands Ballets Canadiens in 1978. As part of the GBC's 20th anniversary program, he was chosen for the title role in Lucas Hoving's modern dance classic Icarus.

In the early 1980s he was invited on several occasions to perform with the Ballets de l’Opéra in Avignon, France. It was there that he had a significant encounter with Rudy Bryans. This principal dancer with the Ballet National de Marseille (a company directed by Roland Petit) made a big impact on Louis Robitaille, as he became a source of inspiration and a guide who greatly influenced his dancing and his artistic path.

In 1984 he participated in the Helsinki International Ballet Competition with his partner Anik Bissonnette. They performed Eddy Toussaint's Un simple moment, and won a gold medal for the choreographer. They were invited to perform at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy by its founder Gian Carlo Menotti, who proved to be a supportive presence. They also performed as guest artists at three festivals directed by Menotti in Italy, and at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston as well as the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia, in addition to guest artist performances with the Ballet de Toulouse in France and a lot of galas around the world.

Louis Robitaille joined the Grands Ballets Canadiens as a principal dancer in 1989. Between 1990 and his departure in 1998, he added 35 roles to his repertoire in works by choreographers such as Balanchine, Dolin, Duato, Fokine, Forsythe, Kudelka, Kylián, Limon, Lock, Nault and Tudor.

In 1994 Louis Robitaille became artistic director of the Jeune Ballet du Québec, where he explored new dance forms. Encouraged by the response to his work, he established a small chamber ballet group, Bande à Part, and also founded Danse-Théâtre de Montréal.

Along with Karen Kain, Frank Augustyn, David Peregrine and Evelyn Hart, he was an outstanding dance artist of his generation. He continued to dance and was appointed artistic director of BJM in 1998, where he redefined the company's artistic approach without abandoning its unique nature.

Louis Robitaille is the recipient of the Order of Canada, the Ordre national du Québec and the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize. He has received numerous grants from the Quebec Ministry of Culture, and he and his company were awarded the Prix Rideau Hommage in addition to the Montreal Arts Council's Prix de reconnaissance.

Amadeus Live

Friday, February 22

Sony Centre Lower Lobby

Join us in our lower lobby for a pre-show chat with Toronto Film Critic and TV Host Richard Crouse and conductor Richard Kaufman. Together, they will explore the multi-Academy Award® winning 1984 motion picture, Amadeus and go behind-the-scenes to learn how Mozart’s most celebrated works are performed live in-sync by a full orchestra and choir. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Richard CrouseRichard Crouse is the host of the CTV talk show Pop Life, the regular film critic for the 24 hour news source CTV’s News Channel and CP24. His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, The Richard Crouse Show, originates on News Talk 1010 in Toronto. He is also the author of nine books on pop culture history including Who Wrote the Book of Love, the best-selling The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, its sequel The Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, the bestselling Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils and Elvis is King: Costello’s My Aim is True. 




R KaufmanRichard Kaufman


Richard Kaufman has devoted much of his musical life to conducting and supervising music for film and television productions, as well as performing film and classical music in concert halls and on recordings. The 2018-19 season marks his 13th season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series “CSO at the Movies” and his 28th season as Principal Pops Conductor of Pacific Symphony. He holds the permanent title of Pops Conductor Laureate with the Dallas Symphony.  

Upcoming engagements include Kaufman’s debuts with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and return engagements with the Detroit and Hawaii Symphonies, the Cleveland Orchestra conducting its annual Holiday Concerts, and Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Recent highlights include debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and the Handel and Haydn Society.

In 2015, Kaufman made his conducting debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra, substituting for John Williams at the Annual Pops Film Night, and Mr. Williams invited Kaufman to share the podium at the annual Tanglewood Film Night in August 2016. In July 2016, two days before its official theatrical release, Richard conducted the San Diego Symphony in a live performance of Michael Giacchino’s new score for Star Trek Beyond, accompanying the film in its gala world premiere in IMAX. 

One of the world’s leading conductors of film music, Kaufman regularly appears with the symphony orchestras of Cleveland, San Francisco, Atlanta, St. Louis, London, Liverpool, Dublin, Indianapolis, San Diego, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He is often asked to conduct such legendary film titles as Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Casablanca, The Bride of Frankenstein, Jaws, Pirates of the Caribbean, Silverado, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Amadeus,and Star Trek.

Kaufman received the 1993 GRAMMY Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He supervised music for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for eighteen years, receiving two Emmy nominations.