KRISTINE MAITLAND (she/her) is a cabaret singer, dance instructor and workshop facilitator. She is the founder of The Kristine Maitland Project, a media content, consulting, performance and visual arts company. She is the creator of The Many Black Histories, an audio/podcast series looking at Black history from a world perspective, covering topics including the Middle Ages in Europe, World War II, the entertainment communities, and beyond. A member of the Toronto Burlesque and Vaudeville Alliance (TBVA), she has taught her take on dirty dancing at a number of events, including the Bi Arts Festival (2019), 9th International Conference on Bisexuality (2006) and More Pleasure and Possibilities (2014).
Can you briefly describe your work?
I would best describe my work in performance as tender, bawdy and madcap. That’s why I have so many names: Kristine Maitland (birth), Ines Rosanera de Freitas (historical re-enactment), and M.T. de Canter (cabaret).
Can you tell us about your journey, both as a creative person and in terms of your bisexuality?
I come from a family of storytellers and writers and I do both. I, however, am the only singer and dancer. I am a Torontonian, born and bred. My pronouns (I/me/she/her) are not an issue – I aim to honour others theirs. I admit that I screw up from time to time but it is never intentional. I will be 50 for the next 15 years.
I came out in the mid 90s. I use the term bisexual for political reasons as I fight the stigma of invisibility but I prefer the term queer as it suits me in all definitions of the term. In Toronto, my queer nature is often assumed, which can be annoying as I don’t presume how other people live their lives as a result of their orientation(s) and/or gender identity.
What guides your creative work?
A wry sense of wonder tinged with sensuality and guile.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you carve out time for your art, writing or music?
After decades of having a day job, I have abandoned it for the life and lifestyle of an artist, both visual and performing and of a producer. I have started my own production company and I am still figuring out how to carve my days doing all these things while earning a living.
How do new ideas emerge for you? Are you protective of them? When do you know that they are ready to be shared?
I have learned the hard way to be cagey about some of my projects. It is amazing how people will steal your stuff. Often I just drop my creations on people out of the blue and await their reactions.
Do you have any advice for the younger you, as either a queer person, or as an artist, or both?
Never let people live rent free in your head.
What feels urgent for you?
What’s the last thing (or person, or work of art, or song, or anything else] that you were hugely excited about?
Oh, I can’t talk about them… *wry smile*
Tell us about an artist that you admire, and why?
At the moment, my muses are Eartha Kitt and Nina Simone – because they did not put up with foolishness – and Odetta, because she told me to get off my ass and sing one year before she died. Truth.
Can you tell us more about Odetta?
Odetta was a famous African American folk singer popular in the 60s. I won tickets to her last show in Toronto, in 2008, and although I don’t remember the song she had the audience sing with her, I just remember singing it with full gusto. I talked to her after that.
What are you working on for 2020?
At the moment I am developing projects for my production company The Many Black Histories. I am performing folk and cabaret gigs with double bassist Steven Falk (when I am wearing my Kristine Maitland hat). And I have an art project that I hope to create for Workman Arts, where I am an Associate. It is my hope to do work with WITCHfest North, Bricks and Glitter and Bi Arts Festival later in the fall.
Who should we interview next? Suggest an artist!
Perhaps Aqua Nibii Waawaaskone? I believe she identifies as 2Spirit, if not bisexual. https://aquamusic.ca/
Elsewhere on the Web
- The Many Black Histories
- This Ex-Royal Moved To Canada For A Quieter Life. Sound Familiar? Huffington Post, 01/27/2020
- History of Black Dancers in Ballet. VisionTV’s Skylight, 2002.