Hydra: the Spirit of Water (2023)

A multi-arts story in motion taking place at Kingston Mills
on Friday, June 16 & Saturday, June 17 2023 at 7pm.

Learn more here.


Calliope moved the annual Solstice Celebration and summer spectacle of circus, music, and dance to the water, and added fire for a special Beltane performance, Water on Fire Friday, May 6, 2022 at sunset in Douglas Fluhrer Park. Water on Fire explored possibilities for presentation on water and detached from a standard stage show delivery to present a dramatic performance on the Cataraqui River.

Accompanied by electric violinist, Dr. Eugene Draw, NorthFire Circus treated viewers to a stunning display of light live from a barge at Molly Brandt Point with ambient circus performances with Kingston Circus Arts accompanied by live music with Fakejazz Orchestra while we waited for the sun to set, and for NorthFIRE to light up the shoreline!

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NorthFIRE Circus

NorthFIRE Circus is a female-led troupe dedicated to the creation and production of contemporary circus arts. The mission is to further develop contemporary circus through encouraging collaboration and integration of other art forms: theatre, dance, film, visual arts and music. Through the development of circus arts into a unique physical language, they create dynamic physical performances that engage with audiences through character, story, the complexity of theme, and human spectacle, bringing audiences closer to art.

The NorthFire Circus mandate is a combination of disciplines such as fire, dance, aerial performance, music, and storytelling. NorthFire Circus creates contemporary circus while incorporating other art forms: it also creates original inclusive material, while cultivating the arts in smaller rural areas. In creating collaborative Theatre on FIRE shows, knowledge is shared between collaborators. Theatre on FIRE is a different piece of theatre that showcases a combination of dance, fire, and music to tell a story.

Dr. Euguene Draw

The Moscow born electric violinist moved to Canada with his family in 1992, and learned his craft busking on the streets of Toronto where he earned his stage moniker as a healer of the spirit. Impossible to ignore, Dr. Draw was often solely responsible for bringing the people he encountered out of their somber mood and into a sunny one.

Dr. Draw has seen much renewed success in the past 4 years. Internationally, he has performed for the opening of the Westfield World Trade Center 9/11 memorial in 2016, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC representing Toronto’s culture and diversity in 2017, alongside members of the Gypsy Kings in Mexico, for TV appearances in Sri Lanka, and was once again invited to perform at the Sovereign Art Foundation’s Art Fund in Hong Kong in 2019. Dr. Draw has also opened for many star acts these past 4 years including John Legend, Mariah Carey, Shaggy, 2 Cellos, and Drake. Dr. Draw embodies the enigma of improvisation, inspiring insatiable curiosity and awe wherever he goes.


While you get your seats and the sun begins to set, enjoy ambient circus performances set to the live jazz stylings of Fakejazz Orchestra. Fakejazz is a Kingston-based, jazz-adjacent duo comprised of Nicholas Lennox (saxophones and electronics) and Henry Lawrence (drums). With their eclectic minimalist instrumentation, this unlikely pairing has a dynamic and mighty sound, offering fresh interpretations of jazz, funk, and rock standards. With this project, Lennox and Lawrence harness years of prior collaboration to create a new experience that is at once tightly calculated and highly exploratory. By taking inspiration from small horn-based ensembles such as Moon Hooch and Too Many Zooz, Fakejazz Orchestra brings a full band’s worth of energy with a fraction of the players, one note at a time.

Jasmine Woboditsch

Jasmine Woboditsch, a 19-year-old white Indigenous woman, has been training with Kingston Circus Arts since 2016 and coaching since 2018. She loves coaching circus classes, and deeply values the inclusion and community that Kingston Circus Arts represents. Jasmine performs aerial arts and acrobatics and has a background in gymnastics and dance, and enjoys all things music!

Kingston Stilters

The Kingston Stilting Troupe is dedicated to bringing awe and beauty to the people of Kingston. Since 2014 we have been animating public events, including the Kingston PRIDE parade, the Memorial St. Market, Dias de Muertos at the Tett Centre, Kingston’s Hiroshima Peace Walk, and Queen’s University Homecoming games. Our troupe trains together regularly for strength and core training, to explore physical theatre, dance, choreography, clown techniques, and collaborate on costume creation.

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A pilot version of the upcoming water installation was held in 2021, as we transitioned our summer event from land to water. Presented online as a short meditative film for 2021 on June 20th – Midsummer’s Eve/Summer Solstice, it featured contributed installations by Clelia Scala, Todd Minicola, Krista Dalby, Nella Casson, Michelle Webb, and JP Longboat (some finished, some still in concept only) to test and further develop their pieces alongside Calliope’s #TogetherApart project Community AFLOAT when it sailed.


Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, Calliope was able to travel abroad in May/June of 2022 on a research and development grant to work with the Bosch Parade in s’hertengenbosch (Den Bosch) Netherlands. Bosch was the inspiration for Hydra, and the primary reason Calliope was created.

Watch a highlight reel of our trip here.


Original music composed, recorded, and mixed by Teilhard Frost, videography and editing by Calliope (Josh Lyon), and still photography by Randy deKleine Stimpson.

HYDRA :: A Story on Water (the pilot version) has been funded by City of Kingston Arts Fund/Kingston Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Government of Canada (Canadian Heritage) and sponsored by Atkinson Home Hardware and Delta Hotels.

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In the summer and fall of 2020 Calliope held a series of three open circle discussions. Artists, poets, environmental partners, local community members, as well as spiritually and environmentally engaged activists came together to discuss themes of importance in regards to the story we would tell with Hydra. Through these workshops, main themes presented themselves – the ecology and life in the great lakes, water access, the history of the area (of Douglas Fluhrer Park), pollution, healing, protection, gathering, unity… each of the artists were presented with a theme/word prompt to guide their installation.

These pieces have already begun to tell our story – of what and who was here first: Our Great Heron (Clelia Scala) – the storyteller – the strong-willed, self-reliant and determined, yet patient creature who stands on one leg — a representation of balance in all things, the history of Indigenous trading places, and the growth of the boat building industry in our area (Michelle Webb, Cataraqui Boatyard Project), the pollution the water has suffered (Department of Illumination), and the medicine our water so desperately needs (JP Longboat). Finally – what is possible when each of us contributes just a small amount towards one common goal. (Community: AFLOAT)

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A white woman with straight brown hair, wearing a life jacket, stands in front of the water looking up at the head a large puppet in the form of a great blue heron.

Artists: Clelia Scala and Todd Minicola, Kingston ON

A bird that looks most like a dinosaur, the Blue Heron is notable for its size, splendour, and adaptability, and for its remarkable ability to stay perfectly still while keenly watching the water for dinner. The heron reminds us of the importance of practicing patience, of maintaining balance in life, and of being aware of our surroundings. The heron puppet is 9 feet (with neck tucked) and has a wingspan of 12 feet, about three times that of a real heron. This playing with scale makes the puppet visible from a distance and, it is hoped, captures a fraction of the splendour of its living counterpart.

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Indigenous passengers in Traditional Clothing paddle a birch bark canoe beside a second canoe made of wood and canvas, containing three people in early 1800s settler attire. Each canoe flies a white and purple two row wampum flag.

TWO ROW WAMPUM (history)
Artists: Michelle Webb and Mary Farrar, Kingston ON

Invited by Calliope to showcase the newly built Birch Bark Canoe created in collaboration between the Kingston Urban Indigenous Community and the “Cataraqui Boatyard Project”, the Two Row Wampum installation acknowledges and celebrates the Inner Harbour Area as a historic, Indigenous Gathering Space for diplomacy and trade that was found to be advantageous by Europeans when they arrived with their own interest in trade and overtures of diplomacy.

The Two Row encodes the Indigenous understanding of what Peace and Friendship Treaties are all about. Ultimately it was meant to be a founding understanding of the relationship between all Indigenous and non Indigenous peoples in Canada and the rest of North America. The two purple bars of the wampum represent two separate nations/peoples, the Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples of Canada. They are seen as each travelling together over time, down the same river in their own boats, with their own customs and laws, without interfering with the autonomy and governance of the other, sharing the waterway which represents the land, waters and resources of this country. The three white rows represent friendship, trust and peace binding all together in respect “for as long as the sun shines, the rivers flow and the grass grows green”.

The Birch Bark Canoe was built in the Algonquin “Wabanaki Tciman” style by Kingston Community members under the supervision and guidance of Master Canoe Builder Chuck Commanda. This is the first public viewing of this canoe, whose name is Ozaagi’aan which translates to “One open to an Other”. “Being open to an Other” despite its race, sexual orientation, or purpose in Creation etc, is the starting place for Right Relationships. It is the point at which we allow ourselves to become vulnerable and exposed to new possibilities.

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Two white women wearing black and black ball caps sit beside a giant fish puppet created from recycled plastic

Department of Illumination, Picton ON
Artists: Krista Dalby and Nella Casson

When we were assigned the theme of ‘plastic pollution’ for the Hydra water parade, I knew that we had to use reclaimed plastic to create our float. The pervasiveness of plastic in our waterways is very problematic, and I wanted to create an image that was kind of beautiful but also represented how ominous this material is. The image I came up with was an enormous fish with gnashing jaws. Humans have only been using plastic for just over one hundred years, and now we’re all facing the consequences. Over several months we collected more than 200 plastic jugs through community outreach, an awareness-raising activity in itself. These jugs were washed and then painstakingly cut into fish scales, which we used to cover our fish sculpture/puppet entitled ‘Plastic Bites Back.’

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An indigenous man, and a woman with long curly brown hair, both wearing blue, stand at waters edge surrounded by trees holding traditional medicines in their hands, which are outstretched to the water.

This performative float is currently being developed as part of the water processional HYDRA, and includes both Male and Female dancers in contemporary Indigenous Regalia to represent the Ancestors – Four Directions (male) and the life giver, carrier of the water (female jingle dancer) to offer medicine and wellbeing to the waters.

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Music Director, Composer

A multi-instrumentalist and instrument maker, Teilhard Frost specializes in traditional Appalachian old time music. He was raised on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, spending time with the elder fiddlers in the area. At the age of three he was given a jaw harp and harmonica by his father, and his mother gave him a fiddle and a record of Kentucky fiddle tunes. He has continued to play them all ever since. As a teenager, he moved to Southern Ontario, where he took up the more ‘urban’ Saxophone, leaving the fiddle in the case for over ten years.

Coupled with a keen interest in drumming, he pursued a career as a percussionist, co-founding the acclaimed Cuban Folkloric ensemble, Klave Y Kongo. In the ten years with Klave Y Kongo, the band hosted many Cuban artists including Eliados Ochoa and Quartetto Patria of Buena Vista Social Club fame. Yet after a while he felt a responsibility to take his Great-Grandfathers fiddle out of the closet and get re-acquainted with the tunes. His website is https://tfrostmusic.com/

Avian Articulation

Clelia Scala’s work includes mask and puppet design, installations, collage, and illustration. Her explorations into the fantastic and uncanny stem from a lifelong engagement with tales and myths and her interest in the theme of human interaction with the natural world. Clelia is the 2019 recipient of the Established Artist Award for the City of St Catharines. She now lives in Kingston and teaches at the Dan School of Drama and Music at Queen’s University. Her website is clelia.ca.

Todd Minicola is the owner and operator of NOC Visual Alternatives est. 1991 as an equipment supplier and production house (www.nvacanada.com). He has a post-secondary education of electrical engineering and is self-taught as an artist. He has worked on numerous shows and public events, including Lumina Borealis, Fort Fright, and the Wolfe Island Music Festival. Primarily a technology based audio/visual artist, he also works as a stagehand and theatre equipment installer/fabricator.

Two Row Wampum

The Artistic Lead for this float is Michelle Webb (Mi’kmaq/Acadian) and the Artistic Assistant is Mary Farrar President of Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour. https://www.friendsofinnerharbour.com/

Michelle Yvonne Webb is of Mi’kmaq and Acadian descent with genealogical lines going back to first European contact in several Maritime Provinces. She presently resides in Kingston Ontario where she enjoys engaging in the activities and aims of both cultures.

Michelle is both a Water and Land Defender and is an active member of “Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour” and its sub group the “Cataraqui Boat Yard Project”. She co-chaired the building of a Birch Bark Canoe (completed the fall of 2020) which featured the Inner Harbour as a Historic Indigenous Gathering Space for diplomacy and trade, as well as being Canada’s Oldest Continuous Boat Building Site.

She is a Traditional Mi’kmaq Women’s Dancer and maker of Native Crafts and Ceremonial Items. She looks forward to reconnecting to opportunities that will rekindle creativity and group participation in any of these areas, especially as we recover from the COVID restrictions and work on re-connecting.

Plastic Bites Back

Krista Dalbyis the Artistic Director of The Department of Illumination, bringing joy and creativity to the people of Prince Edward County through festivals, workshops, and other artistic events. She is a multi-disciplinary artist with a passion for community building, co-founding The Firelight Lantern Festival and launching winter arts festival ICE BOX. She is the recipient of the 2019 Community Arts Builder Award from the Prince Edward County Arts Council and the 2016 Arts Recognition Award from the Quinte Arts Council. A playwright, director, designer and producer, Krista spent seven seasons with Festival Players of Prince Edward County and four years as Assistant Artistic Director at Toronto’s Clay & Paper Theatre.

Nella Casson is a visual artist who works in textiles, illustration, woodworking and mixed media sculpture. In recent years she has created numerous immersive installations exhibited in her rural community of Prince Edward County; interactive works that aim to surprise and delight viewers of all ages. Her installations have been exhibited as part of the DiscARTed art show, The Firelight Lantern Festival, and at ICE BOX, a public art festival in Picton produced by The Department of Illumination. Her ICE BOX installations have been immersive works featuring large embroidered pieces and hands-on play areas. Nella holds an Art & Art History Degree, Honours, from the University of Toronto. www.nellacasson.com

We Speak with the Waters

JP Longboat is Mohawk, Turtle Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River in Southern Ontario, Canada. JP has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree through combined education at the University of Michigan and the Ontario College of Art and Design. JP has extensive professional training and practice in traditional and contemporary forms of visual art and performance disciplines.

JP has trained, collaborated, and performed with many professional theatre and dance companies across Canada. His work emanates from the cultural traditions of his people: language, land and territory, teachings, and stories shared within Longhouses and lodges, gatherings and ceremonies. JP creative process is grounded in Indigenous artistic experience, practice, and legacy. JP is the founder and Artistic Director of Circadia Indigena~ Indigenous Arts Collective. https://circadiaindigena.com/


A close up of a collection of blue, green and purple painted triangular shaped flags.

Calliope, w/ Clelia Scala and Dian Carlo

Get involved by painting a flag that represents your relationship or connection to the water! Where previous Calliope celebrations encouraged an examination of participants’ relationship to the land by connecting with the changing of the seasons, HYDRA aims to encourage people to re-examine their relationship with water. Many of us have taken solace on, in and with water over the past year. During the months of our second & third lockdowns, we went into the community and schools to ask, “What is YOUR connection to water?” Continuing with the project process that started during our December Afloat :: Workshop, your answers came to us in the form of hundreds of beautifully painted canvas flags which will contribute to the construction of our community “float” for HYDRA :: A Story on Water!

This installation is being created in collaboration by artists and community members – #TogetherApart – reminding us of the resiliency of the human spirit to still creatively and meaningfully gather, even while we have to be apart. Special thanks to students of école Kingston East Elementary, Central Public School, Pathways to Education, Clelia Scala, Ontario Arts Council, and Kingston Arts Council/City of Kingston Arts Fund for their support of this element of the HYDRA project.

Artwork by Amara Hollowbones.

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