Taking My Breath Away

Talk about a coming out party. I’ve obviously been living in relative isolation for far too long. Under contract with Penguin Canada and Random House UK, I have spent the last few years huddled down across the Strait of Georgia in scenic Gibsons.

Talk about a coming out party. I’ve obviously been living in relative isolation for far too long. Under contract with Penguin Canada and Random House UK, I have spent the last few years huddled down across the Strait of Georgia in scenic Gibsons.

My days consisted of strolling down steep School Hill to the town library, where I would settle into what became my usual chair — with its incredible view of the marina and Keats Island — pull out my laptop and thermos of tea, and become lost in the imaginary world of fictionary twists and turns.

For entertainment, my wife, daughter and I would go hiking, catch some local (and much appreciated) plays and the occasional movie in the lone theatre. The biggest stores in town were IGA and London Drugs. Vancouver was a 40-minute ferry plus a 30-minute bus ride away, but the awkward ferry schedule made a day trip more stressful than it ought to be, so we rarely made the journey.

In short, our social schedule dried up and we began to forget how much we enjoyed watching creative people do what they did best in a live setting.

But that’s all about to change, for we’ve arrived in the Mecca of great entertainment. And to kickstart our reintroduction to the magic of theatre, dance and music was a stunning performance by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal at the Royal Theatre.

Before the dancers took my breath away with their grace, strength and beauty, I was already mesmerized by the theatre itself. Lush and elegant — with cheeky Victorian balconies — it holds its head up high with a promise of the entertainment ahead.

And when the lush, crimson curtain slid open, the audience was instantly entranced. No music, just dancers in near-nude attire to display the incredible muscle definition that only comes with bone-bruising practise and fully-committed passion. This was quickly followed by the first real surprise of the evening — humour. I had never really thought of professional ballet containing humour before (apart from the always wonderful opportunity afforded by Cinderella’s ugly step sisters), but there it was in the clapping collision of bodies and the effortless flow of limbs. The dancers moved as though ruffled by gentle winds or swept along by underwater currents. I was so captivated that it took awhile to remember to breathe.

And when the familiar notes of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons began, I didn’t want it to end. However, I’m still glad it did because after the intermission, things really kicked into high gear.

Using traditional and original folk music from the Neapolitan region — and in collaboration with the extremely talented four-member Gruppo Musicale Assurd — the well-dressed audience could no longer stay still in its seats. Feet were tapping, heads were bopping and mouths were agape at the sheer amount of talent that danced, sang and played across that wonderful stage. I found it difficult not to whoop in delight.

Or as my wife — whose smile has grown three times larger since our move — said, “We’re not in Bugtussle anymore.”

Indeed.

Song stuck in my head

“Birds” by Kate Nash.

Love poetry comes in all shapes and styles, but Kate Nash has a way of boiling it down to its awkward, adolescent roots where tenderness is often met by puzzlement. With slang-intensive but intimate vocals, Nash’s debut Made of Bricks grows richer with each listen. M

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