Monday, June 17, 2024
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Nocturne diaries

Spending a night among the sights and stars

Photo by Alex Maxwell
Photo by Alex Maxwell

The Halifax-Dartmouth nighttime arts festival, Nocturne, has started just an hour ago. By now the darkness of Spring Garden Road pools many people in a wriggling crowd. Accompanied by my two friends, I navigate the mass until the road ends at Barrington.

7:13 p.m.

To the left, a crowd packs itself into the field by the church: a show is to begin, as is evident from the stage at the bottom of the field and the lights sprinkling the hill with colour, intended to build anticipation and excitement. The church, St. Matthew’s, itself is also open, a silent film blares inside — *One Week*. Stilt walkers stand outside, passing balloons to children.

7:32 p.m.

The show has started: a fire act by Incendia Motus, including dancing, fire eating and fire breathing. It was refreshing to see how naturally the performers acted, and it is evident not every show is precisely alike as each performer genuinely reacts to the audience.

7:36 p.m.

We fail to get into the Halifax circus performance in the basement of the church, but plan to return later. Farther down Barrington Street we wander into the Argyle Fine Arts show, showcasing their collections “Familiar Strangers” and “Paper Trial,” which respectively play on shadows and cartoon depiction. I am especially fond of the detail in both the light covers and the water colour depictions from each collection.

7:57 p.m.

Farther down Barrington (allured by the scent of hotdogs wafting from the square) we enter Aperture Studies Photography Gallery, for their show on local Halifax photographers. Many of the models are depicted on the silks, performing grand acrobatics. I however, gravitate to the collection of close-up depictions of sombre-looking women while my friends admire the Batman themed collection. Afterwards, we set out for Stand on One Foot and Spin, the aerial live performance set by Studio in Essence.

8:32 p.m.

A long line trails out of the studio, but I’ve been told it’s worth the wait.

8:49 p.m.

Seated on the floor of the studio, we watch short performances on the aerial hoop, pole, and finally aerial pole occurring over the next hour. Indeed, it was worth the wait. The atmosphere is lively and the crowd is well earned by the studio.

10:06 p.m.

We make our way to the waterfront for the Alchemist on the Waterfront display. And while the demonstration is slow and monotonous, the glass creations being formed are astounding.

10:15 p.m.

The harbour is lovely at night; it is surprisingly dark by now, but the weather holds. The HMCS Sackville from the Star Wars on the Waterfront set, particularly is quite a sight; spotlight in the night. Although, I could do without the blaring horn which I fear might send one of those children off the top of the wave. It’s almost ironic next to the Still Life sign, which reads “Stop Stand and Be Still.”

10:42 p.m.

We rest at the beach pong station, mildly confused in the huge crowd. The screen off the sanded area shows a classic (albeit a tad slow) pong board, while the players dash about on the sand, with ping pong balls lighting up bright green as the game proceeds. It is quite a clever way to meld the game with reality, even if those sensors look heavy.

11:04 p.m.

After having earlier failed to get into the circus, we make our second attempt. This time we strategically watch the fire show from the wall of the church. As the crowd parts, we enter the Halifax circus and take our seats, only to be amazed with student performances of the detached yo-yo, aerial hoop, two person pin juggling and hat tricks (not the kind received in sports, but rather spinning, throwing, and catching many hats).

11:38 p.m.

As we exit we see the finale of the final fire show for the night. How fitting to begin and end this experience here. But of course, this was only my Nocturne.

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