Raven Girl

I never really knew what to do with ballet until I came across the Royal Ballet and Opera House’s youtube channel. I had seen the Nutcracker twice…and a rendition of Hansel and Gretel that had quite possibly the worst soundtrack of any live theatre performance I had ever witnessed. (It was a badly recorded opera…in English.) Beyond that, having no dance background of which to speak, I never pursued it when there were so many other artistic events to attend.

I think this video has changed that.

I have not read the story it was adapted from but I am fascinated with the premise. A girl, whose father is a postman and her mother a raven. Her struggle to make an identity for herself when she knows inherently that she cannot fully connect with either half of her. The terrible path she is drawn down in an effort to feel like herself in her own body. This, is my version of Swan Lake.


The book was completely illustrated with aquatint. Yep, my art history heart be still…

And as great as the book sounds…I think this ballet would be even better. One of those rare moments when the adaptation is able to outshine the original. I can’t say for certain but I do have some evidence.

At 6:30 in the video (and please watch the whole thing) the dancers are meant to give the illusion of wings and then, following their embrace, the raven girl is whisked backwards. It really does seem like she’s flying. We know ravens cannot write. They can speak, but not in a way that is easily captured in a printed text.* To tell this story without movement would be to remove so much of the bird. The girl could just as well be a child of divorced parents and not this fascinating hybrid. Movement, brings the bird in.

So despite the two versions of the Nutcracker, and the bad opera with good dancing, I never understood what was really being brought when dance was involved. Now I can see it’s more than the story, the costumes or the technique; it’s a translation for things that speak with their bodies. It’s fascinating and I’m looking forward to watching my next ballet with this understanding. Especially as Nutcracker season is just around the corner…

*on the subject of literary ravens, I feel I must mention at least one First Nations writer. Go read Eden Robinson’s “Monkey Beach.” Her ravens will Edgar Allen Poe you.


Jorge Ben – Zé Canjica

This song is Toronto to me. I remember exploring the city on my own and walking through the Kensington neighbourhood. I sauntered at one-quarter the tempo, really soaked everything in. The sun was enveloping, not bright. A world traveller’s closet was hanging from every apartment, and on racks outside of weird basement thrift shops.

It felt like everyone had moved outside for the summer and by happenstance, I had been invited into their living room.

Side Note: I came across this song while exploring a great blog project called Dust and Grooves.

A quick google translation of the lyrics:

It’s raining and the rain will dampen anyone
That once fell all wet
In my arms
There is no truth, there can be
There is no truth, there can be
Silence goes away makes me forgiveness
Silence goes away makes me forgiveness
Sorry my friends we
If I’m confused
And sad and even grumpy
But is that I am no longer
Boyfriend of my love
I know my tide is not practical fish
But I will not give up fishing because
For me there is still a thread of hope
And the will to live
Prá can win back her
Prá can win back her
Silence goes away makes me forgiveness
Silence goes away makes me forgiveness
But is that I am no longer
Ze Canjica my love
But is that I am no longer
Ze Canjica my love
Silence goes away makes me forgiveness


The volatile feeling of wanting so badly
For something that will come in its own time.
In my daydreams, I imagine its arrival.
These dreams soothe my addiction for a finite outcome,
The methadone response for damaging uncertainty.

How tempting to find the world flat with finite edges!
To know there is a final place to go, that the journey can be
about the ending and not the in-between.
To be a fish finding a new home, finally thriving without water.

These dreams are an illusion set forth for staying the journey.
A boozy fog that leaves only half-formed memories,
I drink in the daydreams to quiet my anxieties and then
Wake up in the oppressive hangover of reality.

Weakened, I submit again…

…I cannot wait to feel real.

Tamer and Hawk

Faber Anthology

Read all the way through for the surprise twist ending!

I attended some of the East Van Culture Crawl last weekend but in a fairly typically me fashion my favorite part of the day was rummaging through a church’s used book sale. I bought one book, what is turning out to be a rather promising anthology. This one poem is why I bought it…I’m always a sucker for a good love poem. Totally worth the dollar.

Tamer And Hawk

By Thom Gunn

I thought I was so tough,
But gentled at your hands
Cannot be quick enough
To fly for you and show
That when I go I go
At your commands.

Even in flight above
I am no longer free:
You seeled me with your love,
I am blind to other birds –
The habit of your words
Has hooded me.

As formerly, I wheel
I hover and I twist,
But only want the feel,
In my possessive thought,
Of catcher and of caught
Upon your wrist.

You but half-civilize,
Taming me in this way.
Through having only eyes
For you I fear to lose,
I lose to keep, and choose
Tamer as prey.

Now here comes the mind-bending part. Typically upon reading something like this, especially when the book is old, you expect that it’s a man writing about a woman. Given this misunderstanding my friend and I had an entire conversation following this about gender dynamics in relationships. Well pals, Thomas Gunn, for those like me who didn’t know, was an openly gay poet.

I love the idea of love without gender, a real equality of “catcher and caught” with no preconceived idea of who is prey and who is the predator. It seems like there would be a lot of freedom in that.