Headliner Pharoahe Monch performed at the 2012 Manifesto Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square. Photo courtesy Manifesto Festival.

Manifesto Festival Recap

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By Betty Wondimu

Day 1

The first day of the Manifesto Festival featured a night full of live graffiti, a gallery of visual artwork and an awards ceremony celebrating local dancers who have made an impact on the community.

The youngest award recipient of the night, 12-year-old Kevin Scheitzbach, wowed the crowd with his skills after receiving the Allstyles Up Next award. He attributed his love of dance to his older brother, Michael Scheitzbach, who inspired him to dance in the first place.

“He’s always been there for me and whenever one of us does something big, we’re there to congratulate each other. This means a lot to us,“ said Kevin.

Day 2

On Saturday, more of Toronto’s aspiring talent met for the summit at Ryerson’s George Vari engineering and computing centre.  Young artists, directors and producers got a chance to learn from some of the pros in the business like hip-hop artist Shad, music producer Solitair and Director X, who has recently directed videos for the likes of Drake and Justin Bieber.

“What did Einstein say: ‘Creativity is hiding your sources’? He was right,” said Director X when asked about his inspirations for his style as an award-winning director.

However, X revealed many of his video inspirations shortly after including oldies like Missy Elliot’s I Can’t Stand the Rain and Nine Inch Nails’ Perfect Drug. He also stressed the importance of timing and attention to detail in a video.

“As a director, your job is to be conscious of the subconscious. Always alter things just a little bit and you’ll get big results,” said Director X.

Another mentor, Jully Black, said she enjoyed teaching her workshop on the art of performance, but she felt that she was missing some of the Manifesto experience because class times overlapped, preventing students (and herself) from attending all the classes.

“What I would do differently for the years to come is have a venue where there’s only one session going on at a time. Everyone attends everybody’s workshop, including the artists, and we all just have one big conference, TED-Talk style,” said Black.

Day 3

Despite the heavy rainstorm on Sunday, Manifesto demonstrators braved the rain and walked from Yonge and Bloor Streets to Dundas Square to advocate for government investment in youth and arts education in Toronto.

When it wasn’t raining, the festival’s final day hosted many main stage acts by various performers including headliner Pharoahe Monch, tents of local vendors with the latest hip hop gear and Kurt the Coconut Man, who roamed around the square and sold fresh coconuts as refreshments for five bucks a piece.

The day also featured graffiti artist Ross Iaydjiev and his crew Graffiti Boxmen live-painting boxes, capoeira dancers teaching workshops and a musical tribute to the victims of the Danzig shooting that happened this summer.

But during the rain, while many spectators ran towards shelter, dancers competing in the semi-final kept dancing on the drenched dance floor for a chance to win $500 in the final battle. Some dancers made light of the situation by free styling with umbrellas and using the newly slippery floor as an advantage for performing intense tricks and spins. Onlookers observed from afar as the dancers faced-off in the rain.

“Wow, this is like a scene from Step Up or something,” said one spectator.

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