Little “wild balls” get Montreal waltzing

These are the words of Oriane, musician and founder of Orange Mist. It was from her encounter with Balfolk Montréal and conversations with immigrants from around the world that she met in Montréal, that was born the desire to put traditional music in the spotlight, as a way to fight the loss of connection with the artistic roots of our different cultures.

Oriane, Orange Mist

Fostering friendly meet-ups where musicians and dancers evolve around traditional music and dance, folk balls answer the need to create connections and to showcase the cultures of the various communities inhabiting a city, a neighbourhood. Very popular in Europe, the balls have come to Québec and, driven by Orange Mist, take over public spaces, becoming Les petits bals sauvages (little wild balls).

Little wild balls in the streets of Montreal

Conceived as a light and festive happening, the little wild balls are traditional dance balls open to all, free, offered on a recurrent basis in public spaces of Montréal (parks, laneways, public pianos, etc.), led by local professional musicians, a dance teacher and experienced animators/dancers to attract strong citizen participation.

Their goal is to invest in urban spaces in a collective and artistic way to promote inclusion and cultural diversity by proposing dances from various countries to reconnect residents with their traditions and origins, while giving them the desire to share them and pass them down. In short, they are a way of reconnecting to oneself and to others in the community.

A first ball was held in a laneway as part of 100en1jour Montréal in 2018 and was warmly received and applauded by the public. This inspired the desire to spread these moments of sharing throughout the city.

Deploying little wild balls with the MIS Civic Incubator

Under the urging of their friends, Orange Mist and Balfolk Montréal answered the MIS Civic Incubator’s call for projects and submitted their candidature. 

Bingo! The project was chosen to integrate into the first cohort in 2018. An extension of balcony concert initiatives already proposed by some artists, and traditional folk balls organized in indoor venues, its innovation is that it spontaneously deploys traditional music and dance directly in urban settings, opening the door to all citizens, including the uninitiated, helping to build relationships and foster the social capital of communities.

Through the various workshops and support activities provided during weeks of incubation at the Maison de l’innovation sociale, and also thanks to mutual aid and exchanges with other participants, the little laneway ball evolved to become the little wild balls. This initiative aims to multiply across public spaces in Montréal, while keeping its authenticity and fulfilling its vision to pass along these rich traditions and experiences to citizens.

The launch of the 2019 season of little wild balls took place on June 1 during the 100en1jour Montréal citizen initiative!

Three alumni of the program look back

  • Civic incubator,
  • News,

The potential realization of a positive-impact project idea—one that has long been brewing in the back of their minds—has motivated over one hundred change-makers to join the MIS Civic Incubator.

Incubateur civique, cohorte 2022 - Construis ton vélo : la culture du vélo au service de l’égalité des chances et de la justice sociale

Construis ton vélo: bike culture for eq...

  • Civic incubator,
  • Cohort 2022,
  • News,

“Thanks to our project, young people will be able to create links between themselves and their peers. They will become actors in their neighborhoods and ambassadors for bike culture in…

Incubateur civique, cohorte 2022  - Ouitogether : mettre en valeur les expressions culturelles diverses à Montréal

Ouitogether : Showcasing Montréal’s d...

  • Civic incubator,
  • Cohort 2022,
  • News,

One in four Montréalers is an immigrant, according to Statistics Canada. The city is home to over 120 cultural communities from all five continents.