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Get to know Tocani, the performance group blending pre-Hispanic elements with contemporary narratives of Latin America through costume, music, dance, poetry and theatre.

Tocani 1

Image courtesy of Tocani

Presented in partnership with Small World Music, all summer long the AGO is making Friday nights a musical affair with live performances in Walker Court from local artists. Recently, multidisciplinary performance group Tocani took the stage with their eclectic blend of music, dance, movement and visual elements. Their musical genre explores pre-Hispanic elements and contemporary Latin America, using percussion and wind elements from traditional instruments. Bringing ancestral mysticism to the stage, each musical piece tells a story theatrically and experimentally. 

The group is comprised of four artists: Luis Rojas, a multidisciplinary artist who has devoted himself to the movement of Spanish-language theatre in Toronto since 2008; Guillermo López,  a drummer who became an Aztec dancer at age 16; Jesus Mora, a drummer who is also a part of the Mexica (Aztec) dance group in Toronto, and plays the conch (a pre-Hispanic instrument that represents the element of wind); and Camilo Giraldo, an Afro-Columbian percussionist who also specializes in instrument-making and art installations. 

Curious to find out more, we caught up with Tocani to learn their origins and how they tell stories through their performances.  

Tocani 2

Image courtesy of Tocani

AGOinsider: How did Tocani get their start as a performing group? 

Tocani: Tocani came together following a call from Guillermo López sharing the desire to explore and bring a contemporary feel to Aztec instruments and storytelling by combining costume, dance, theatre, poetry and music. The ancient Mesoamerican drums (Huehuetl and Teponaztli) are the main instruments that we use to bring us closer to those ancestral sounds and spirits.

AGOinsider: As a multidisciplinary group mixing sound, dance, costume and storytelling, what goes into preparing for a performance?

Tocani: Each piece we do has a different approach, but we always work on the theme depending on the nature of the event it will be presented in and at. Following ancient teachings and stories, we create the music and performance. 

AGOinsider: In your opinion, how do these multiple elements work together to elevate the experience? For the group and for the audience?

Tocani: The arts are a major way to express and reflect culture, stories, human behaviour and connect with our land and heritage. We believe that by combining all the mediums − visual arts, music, dance, theatre, poetry − the audience can get a full spectrum and experience.

Catch more live music performances in Walker Court every Friday night this summer at the AGO. Other artists include Karla Garcia and Jeimmi Carrasco and Beny Esguerra and New Tradition. For more details on Tocani, visit Stay tuned for their next performance coming up July 29. 

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