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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Ballet Victoria is honouring Rosemarie Liscum, the president of the board of directors who was instrumental in the building the dance company. Liscum died earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Ballet Victoria)
Rosemarie Liscum remembered as dedicated, instrumental builder of Victoria Ballet

The president of the ballet company’s board of directors died at the age of 59

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Three Legged Dog Productions performed Jesus Christ Superstar in 2019. Tim Penney photo
Non-profit plans musical renaissance in the Comox Valley

Three Legged Dog Productions is preparing for a summer residency at Filberg Park

Tori Djakovic and Ava Hornby with their painting Winter Crystal Victorian Lace, a part of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Glass Box Story project. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
Youths and seniors collaborate on Nanaimo Art Gallery public art project

‘Glass Box Story’ painted panels and text to be installed across street from gallery

View Gallery curator Chai Duncan admires the work of graduating visual art student Hailin Zhang, one of the artists in the upcoming End Marks grad show. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
VIU visual art grad show presented as virtual gallery tour due to COVID-19

‘End Marks’ exhibition is on display from April 29 to May 30

Most Read