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On 16 November 2013, the DARTcritics (as part of the audience of nearly 2,000) attended the STRUTT Wearable Art Show at the W.S. Tyler factory in St Catharines. From fire dancers, to a fabulous catwalk show with a live soundtrack by the  Toronto-based country-meets-rock style band The Sadies, to acrobats suspended on silks and back-flipping down the runway, to an after-party that went into the wee hours, it was an extraordinary and unforgettable evening. Here is what some of the DARTcritics had to say: 

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Dani Di Frenza, Jesse Heichert, Angie Colosimo, Misha Harding, Omar Al-Aufy, Kendra Neaves, and Casey Laidlaw

I felt like I was in a Baz Luhrmann flim. So glamorous. The cameras, the people, the drinks- everything about it screamed great time.  A mix of fashion, art, and performance, could it have been any better? — Emily Ferrier

Strutt was like a big Toronto fashion event in the small St. Catharines. The energy was high, the drinks were fancy, and the art was a mix of fun and fashion. I hope that events like this become a regular in the Niagara region. –Misha Harding

STRUTT was about artists coming together and expressing themselves through costume. Their goal was to treat audience members to a night of artistic freedom and promote the arts in the Niagara region.  The night was full of glamour and magic like I have not seen before – Michael Caccamo

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The STRUTT catwalk

STRUTT was for everyone. People of all ages were there and having an absolute blast! It’s fun for everyone with an artistic twist. I just wish they’d had more non-alcoholic drinks than coffee and water…  – Cassandra Moerman

I enjoyed the show tremendously, enjoying the variety of each costume piece. The people were intoxicating and I found myself swept in the awe and excitement of the crowd. I do agree with Cassandra though that I wish there had been other drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, The show was glamorous and enticing and I am glad I could share that with my fellow students! — another DARTcritic

STRUTT was about creativity, artistry, and imagination. It captured its audience in a way that brought together not just a crowd, but a community. The united atmosphere and artistic statements created a show that will continue to astound its audiences for years to come. I loved every moment and thoroughly enjoyed the “New York warehouse” element of the venue.  — Rachel Romanoski

STRUTT was about thought-provoking art, opening up questions and responses to current issues. I loved how so many different art forms were woven together to create the evening: everything from visual art, performance, acrobatics, dance, music, photography, and even cooking were celebrated and on display. STRUTT is definitely a night to remember. – Andrea Stallbom.

STRUTT shattered social prejudice to do with economic status, often plastered upon the high fashion world. On the night, students, citizens, great artistic innovators, and other more wealthy members of the Niagara area together celebrated the creation, growth and success of art in the Niagara area. SRUTT broke this prejudice and encouraged us all to wonder at the power of art, on the runway and in a community. — another DARTcritic

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Misha Harding, Michael Caccamo, Nick Leno, Sean Rintoul, Sean Cottrell, and Alannah Stewart

 STRUTT was a performance of artistic ability, creation, talent, and creativity. It was unlike any event I have ever been to. I will definitely attend again in the future. To me, it was not about fashion, it was a pure expression of art. Beautiful and inspiring. — another DART critic

 STRUTT is about Niagara’s artists coming together to celebrate each other’s unique talents and creations.  The mix of costumes, vendors, acrobatics and dance made this an unforgettable and whimsical night.  No matter where you looked there was always something, or someone to pique your curiosity and get you excited! — Sarah Lawrence


Tara Johnston

STRUTT to me is a celebration of all forms of art; performative, visual, musical. It is less about the show and more about the community coming together for one big party where artists of all kinds are welcome. Having been in the show, I have a great sense of respect for the artists, as I have had a chance to ask them what their pieces are about and how much time went into creating it, which I think is lost in translation for some audience members. –Tara Johnston

For me STRUTT was a night to for the Niagara arts community to celebrate its work as a collective. Being a resident of St. Catharines it was a great atmosphere to be a part of.  I found that the spectacle was not only the show itself, but the social atmosphere that was laced throughout the night. — Amanda McDonnell

STRUTT was an all-inclusive evening for anyone from musicians, theatre-makers, acrobats, artists, photographers, to spectators! It is not only a celebration of the accomplishments of the artists, but a celebration of a growing arts community that has worked to accomplish its own identity. This evening allows the St. Catharines art community to show everyone what they are made of and that they are only growing stronger! — Bri Lidstone

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Hayley Malouin, Alannah Stewart, Kendra Neaves, and Brock Department of Dramatic Arts chair David Vivian

STRUTT to me is for everyone and anyone who can appreciate art in all types and forms, as well as celebrating uniqueness. Not only was the performance happening on stage, but also off stage for anyone who dressed up or even just observed the artwork worn by many. It was more than a performance, it was an event that connected everyone through art, creativity, and alcohol. Fantastic. — Alicia Bisante

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The catwalk

STRUTT is about artists and members of the art community in the Niagara region coming together to celebrate each other.  It was a night to relax, dress up, and enjoy the fantastical art show performed for us. Better yet, it was a night to drink and dance and show off our own unique wearable art! — Nicola Franco

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Janelle Hazelton, Cassandra Moerman, and Andrea Stallbom

STRUTT is a celebration of the artistic diversity of Niagara, with many different artists from many different backgrounds coming together to acheave a common goal. Truly, it was an honour just to participate as an observer. –Anthony Kuchar

STRUTT for me was a celebration of the arts community. It showed the kind of community we work to acheive within the arts; a place in which creative expression has no rules or boundries, in which skill is appreciated and opinion welcomed. It was a celebration of the strong community that Niagara is known for, and the artists that make it unique. — Jesse Heichert

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Gina Greco


7 November 2013: In a chilly W.S. Tyler Factory, the location for this years’ STRUTT wearable art show, we, five fabulous ladies, sit down for a face-to-face chat with the woman who makes it all happen! Deanna Jones has been the director of STRUTT for the past three years. Jones is artistic director of the St. Catharines-based theatre company Suitcase in Point, and originally became involved with STRUTT because of her theatre background and connections. She modeled in the show for six years, and even MC’d the event the year prior to becoming director. She tells us how she has watched STRUTT evolve over the years: “It used to be five days of rehearsal, but now we have two weeks. Each presentation of art work is timed to music, and there’s choreography.”

Jones says that this year’s show will be sure to “really showcase the magical land of STRUTT.” She is beaming with excitement as she explains her plans for an eye-popping show. “I really wanted to show the intricacy of the artworks. I wanted to amp that up this year through live video, rotating platforms, and the lighting, as well as use video slides to ensure the audience is able to connect with who made each artwork.”

We asked what her favourite part of STRUTT is: the fashion, the creativity of the collaboration between model and artist, the music, the theme? “My favourite part is seeing all of those puzzle pieces come together,” she says, “when you have the wearable art and the performers, and then you bring in the band and their music, plus adding the other performative elements.” From DJs, to dancers, lighting and sound — and live music from the Sadies — this year’s show is going to be beyond any New York runway.

Audience members are encouraged to “get their fashion on” and dress creatively and elaborately. And if you are brave enough to strutt your stuff on the runway, you could win $150 for best audience outfit! Guests are encouraged to hang around after the show for dancing, music, and a celebration of all the talent in our community.

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse into this magical world — and we really suggest that you do — make sure to arrive early! The doors open at 7:30 pm for media and VIPs, and at 8 pm for all guests. So come out, enjoy the atmosphere, strutt your stuff, and have a cocktail or two (we know we will)!

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22 October 2013: STRUTT — coming up on the 15th and 16th of November — is Niagara’s thirteenth-annual Wearable Art show! STRUTT brings visions from local artists to the runway, this year housed in the WS Tyler Factory in St. Catharines. Since its inception, more than 300 works of art have been created for STRUTT. The Niagara Artists Centre’s call for submissions states that it “seeks creations that transform the human body through the imagination”, giving artists a chance to showcase their talent without the pressures of competition. This year artists from all over the Niagara region submitted proposals for the show in late August, and after being accepted, had until October 19th to complete their projects.

As Brock University Theatre Criticism students, we have embarked on a mission to critique and document this unique part of Niagara’s art scene, and to spread the word about the “diamonds in the rough” that are hidden in our community. And from our first visit to STRUTT we have already seen glimpses into the beautiful, colourful, and crazy art that our community has created! Our role is to get an inside look behind the scenes, so that we can inform viewers about both sides of this well-known event: the show you watch, and the work that it takes to make it happen. On our first visit we attended a session at the factory where artists were fitting models into their wearable art pieces, and we met with Brock University graduate Deanna Jones, who is STRUTT’s director. She showed excitement and passion as she discussed this year’s event with us.

On this first visit we saw the venue in its most bare and raw form, and immediately noticed progress being made as this large, very cold, grey concrete building is transformed into a beautiful art exhibit. The technical crew, including the stage manager, assistant stage manager, director (Jones) and photographers were present, working away to create a new and entertaining venue for this year’s guests. The location’s potential, with its windows, columns, and vast amount of space, feeds our expectation that it will surprise us in its transformation into a spectacular runway.


From a past year’s STRUTT: “The Wearable Prayer Machine that Envelops Me by The Ministry of Visual Information” by Jim Paterson and Hamish Paterson and performed by Edwin Conroy Jr.

We could feel a buzzing energy as the artists met their models for the first time to share the pieces that have taken most of them months to construct. Model Nikki Morrison said: “My experience has been great. Even while being cold, the first fittings were fantastic and I’m really excited to start the rehearsal process”. Using a vast variety of materials, these constructions put the Cottonelle runway to shame. From pennies, to twist ties, plastic, and chocolate (yes, chocolate), these artists have created costumes that render a typical art exhibit vapid in comparison. The artists create unique and ingenious ways to display their art on the human body, making adjustments for their models’ comfort just a month before their debut performance.

The models are volunteers who have auditioned to be a part of the experience. We spoke to model Tara Johnston (who is also one of our DARTcritic colleagues), about her experience so far: “Last year was my first year being a part of STRUTT. It was an incredible experience seeing artists from different backgrounds come together for one night. Being part of it again for the second year, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected and I’m hoping for another successful night of celebration for the creative talent we got goin’ on!”

As our visit came to a close we were all eager to return in a few weeks to check in on the progress. Being five girls with the gift of the gab and a passion for fashion there was not a moment of silence as we travelled back to Brock. We couldn’t stop talking about the art pieces we started to see forming, the great relationships that the artists and models have with each other, the surprises that we hope to discover as our process continues, and the gloves we’ll need to bring for next time! We can already say in confidence that this year’s STRUTT is not to be missed. But you’ll have to see it to believe it, because our luscious lips are sealed!

The Wearable Art show will STRUTT down the runway on November 16, part of a whole weekend of STRUTT events. Before then, we’re meeting Deanna Jones for a in-depth discussion of her role in the event. We’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, you can get a taste of the event by watching this amazing video trailer.

— Nicola Franco, Megan Dene, Gina Greco, Jessica De Hoog, Amanda Laporte

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