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From the Publisher: Je Reviens

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Published June 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


Gianmaria Borzillo and Giovanfrancesco Giannini in "Save the last dance for me" - COURTESY OF VIVIEN GAUMAND
  • Courtesy Of Vivien Gaumand
  • Gianmaria Borzillo and Giovanfrancesco Giannini in "Save the last dance for me"

Seven Days gets printed north of Montréal at the Imprimerie Mirabel. The weekly ritual wraps in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when a box truck laden with newspapers crosses the U.S.-Canada border and rolls up to our loading dock at the south end of Burlington's Battery Street.

This international arrangement has continued uninterrupted since 2018, through pandemic surges, protests and politics. For most of the past two years, Vermonters and Quebecers have been prohibited from visiting each other's countries. More than once, I've imagined stowing away in the printer's truck on its return trip to Canada.

These days, though, it's much easier to travel north of the border. In the past three weeks, my significant other and I have driven twice to Montréal, which is in full summer-festival mode with outdoor stages, blocked-off streets, food trucks, and happy people of all ethnicities out and about.

There's some required predeparture "paperwork" that at first seems daunting on the ArriveCAN website. References to a "quarantine plan," for example, no longer apply to fully vaccinated travelers, but you still have to provide a Canadian address — even if you're just going up for the day. Uploading passport numbers, port of entry information and vaccination records is simpler.

The free process, which has to be initiated no more than 72 hours before entering Canada, generates a "receipt" with a QR code that you're supposed to present at the border. All of that info is stored in your ArriveCAN account, expediting the process for future visits.

We had our paperwork ready for inspection both times we got to the north end of Interstate 89 — only to have the border agents shoo it away. Perhaps just scanning our passports provided the same info, but we sailed right through with no mention of COVID-19. Then, after a short stretch on historic Route 133, we hit the new highway that has trimmed travel time from Burlington to Montréal to one hour and 41 minutes.

On the first occasion, we were rushing to make an outdoor dance performance in a public park on the east end of town — part of Montréal's ambitious 15-day Festival TransAmériques, featuring dance and theater works from around the world. Two men went from dancing cheek to cheek to more traditionally masculine moves in "Save the last dance for me," Alessandro Sciarroni's modern take on the polka chinata, a ritual dance once performed by young males in Bologna, Italy, that is now on the verge of extinction.

Near Place des Arts, in a relatively new performance complex devoted entirely to dance, we saw and loved "Les jolies choses," by Québec choreographer Catherine Gaudet. Between shows, in the public square we watched a man in a glass tank adapt to rising water in which he slowly became totally submerged — a free, outside show that might have been about climate change or pandemic adaptations.

Two weeks later we were back again, this time inside the Place des Arts complex. From our vantage point high above the stage, it looked like almost every one of the 3,000 seats in the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier was occupied by a superfan of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós — one of the benefits of a big city.

Another: the beautiful blue and green lights along the new, improved Pont Champlain, guiding us over the mighty St. Lawrence River toward home.