Category Archives: Candace Fertile

Poets’ letters show work of meticulous editor

We Go Far Back in Time:

The Letters of Earle Birney and Al Purdy, 1947-1987

Edited by Nicholas Bradley

Harbour Publishing

480 pages, $39.95

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

Being able to read the private correspondence of two notable Canadian poets feels a bit like getting away with something, even though Earle Birney and Al Purdy were well aware that eventually their letters would be read by others. At least, they hoped that would happen; both were intent on squeezing as much money as possible out of their writing through publishing and the selling of manuscripts to archives. Purdy, in particular, was conscious of the need to create income as, unlike Birney, he was not a professor.

Purdy starts the exchange when he submits poems to Canadian Poetry Magazine, then edited by Birney. Fourteen years younger than Birney and an autodidact, Purdy initiates a discussion about poetry which quickly develops into friendship and continues for 40 years. The two men don’t always agree or get along, but they had much in common apart from poetry. They admired each other’s poems. They loved to travel. They both loved to drink. They loved women, lots of women, and their testosterone-fueled excesses and sophomoric jokes quickly become tiresome. But they were men of their time, I guess, and probably not much has changed except that university professors are now perhaps a bit more reticent to pounce on their students.

The editor, Nicholas Bradley, who is a professor in the Department of English at UVic (and recently named William Lyon MacKenzie King Junior Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University), has done a monumental job in compiling this book. Perhaps the simplest way to indicate the amount of work he did is to remark on the number of footnotes: 947. And these footnotes are full of helpful, if not essential, information.

Bradley has an immense knowledge of his subjects and a clear understanding of their failures and successes. In his introduction he says, “If We Go Far Back in Time illuminates the poems and serves to sustain interest in them, then the edition will have met its goal.” As Birney and Purdy often commented on each other’s work and included poems in their letters, and I was driven to rummage about in my copies of their work, I think Bradley achieved his goal. Anyone unfamiliar with the poetry is likely to be lost in myriad references.

The meticulously documented letters also reveal the landscape of Canadian writing over four decades: the generally small community of Canadian writers, the utter necessity of the Canada Council, and the problems writers have in trying to make a living (it’s likely much worse now).

But even more than all that, Bradley elevates the role of the scholar. His apparently dogged determination to discover as much as he can about these letters and their writers is a testament to the power of curiosity. Like the best detective, Bradley has tried to lay bare the mysteries while acknowledging that some things may never be completely uncovered. He includes a note on editorial procedures, a timeline of the writers’ lives, a short appendix of undated letters, a short appendix of Purdy’s written comments to others about Birney, a glossary of selected names, a bibliography, an index of titles, and an index of names.

In the age of email, texts, Twitter, Skype, and stuff I have no idea about, such a collection is unlikely to be compiled again. And that is sad.

Reviewer Candace Fertile teaches English at Camosun College.

Love of language shines in poet’s fifth collection

House Made of Rain

By Pamela Porter

Ronsdale Press

98 pages, $15.95

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

House Made of Rain is Pamela Porter’s fifth collection of poetry for adults in five years, and the subject and style of most of the book will be familiar to her readers. Pervaded by religious imagery, these poems grapple with abandonment and absence. Sadness and emptiness are hallmarks of Porter’s works, and I was often overwhelmed by the sense of disconnect the speaker has in many of the poems about human relationships.

In Late Moon (2013), Porter, a Vancouver Island resident, dealt with the mystery of her father. In this new collection, that concern continues, and perhaps gets a bit repetitive. One can understand why Porter focuses on her paternity, but it’s not a concern most readers will share.

This latest collection has three parts: the first is a long sequence of 29 numbered poems under the title “Atonement.” These poems are replete with guilt and a religious fervour. The imagery is largely Christian, and Porter ties the question of a father with that of The Father. Readers with a strong connection to Christianity will find rewards although at times the language is forced: “when the angels cried their coyote cries,” for example, leaps off the page but not in a good way. The other imagery is typical of Porter’s work: animals, plants, and light. And while Porter is committed to the lyric, she breaks that approach with the twentieth piece, a prose narrative about a girl whose father abandons her. The switch in approach is disruptive; this piece may have been better placed at the beginning or the end of “Atonement.”

The second section of the book is comprised of 17 titled poems of a length between one and three pages. Sometimes the page breaks separate the poems into distinct parts although the white space at the bottom of the page often fooled me into thinking I was at the end of the poem; once I turned the page, I discovered the poem continued, a somewhat destabilizing experience. And the topic of fathers continues. “The Name I Carried,” for example, ends powerfully:

and God continued to pursue me
though I never saw him,
and I remain fatherless.

I was most engaged by the third part of the book, titled “The Book of Astonishment.” It’s an abcedarian poem that plays beautifully with the form. Porter moves through the alphabet and creates lists, and within the lists are shorter italicised lists beginning with the particular letter. The first mini-list is “annulet, anthem, antiphonal, aurora.” The poet’s sheer joy of words forms the basis of this long poem, along with the splendid images and the alliteration. Porter has a gift for imagery, and her intense appreciation of the natural world comes through on every page.

When Porter lets herself go, as she does in this final segment, wonderful things happen. There are gems in the rest of the book (“We’ll speak of the way we held/ forgiveness in our pockets”), but this third part absolutely creates astonishment.

Candace Fertile teaches English at Camosun College. 

Bold surrealist delights eye and spirit

Mirό: The Experience of Seeing

Seattle Art Museum until May 25, 2014

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

The Seattle Art Museum presents the later work of Spanish artist Joan Mirό (1893-1983) in its current special exhibition. About 50 paintings and sculptures 1963-1981 are on display, along with two fascinating videos. The artworks are from the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, one of the world’s great art galleries.  This exhibit is the first in the US to feature Mirό’s late works.

Mirό’s colours are typically bold: red, blue, black, yellow.  He creates images from the dense and chunky to wispy lines that soar through the air. Birds, the moon, and women are common subjects, and whimsy is a hallmark. But whimsy is not the basis; perhaps Mirό’s works can be seen as a cry for freedom. After all, from 1939-1975, Spain was under the dictatorship of Franco.  Birds are certainly symbolic of flight and freedom, and women, well, Mirό’s exploration of women’s beauty through various shapes is remarkable. Mirό commented that while his work  may be perceived as humorous, he thought his inclination was “tragic rather than light-hearted.”

As a surrealist, Mirό championed breaking away from conventional styles of painting. He approved of automatic techniques and a return to child-like wonder, but he never completely abandoned representation. The pieces in this exhibit are those of a man who has spent a lifetime honing his style.  The clarity of his approach  to form, shape, line, and colour is mesmerizing. In Poème à la gloire des étincelles, for example, movement and even sound are suggested by what looks like a string of firecrackers. In three paintings with a white background, Mirό creates exceptionally simple paintings that become more complex as you look at them. He can create a sense of movement or flux with little on the canvas.

The sculpture ranges from the heavy — whether almost a flat plane or a cylinder shape — to airy, stick-like shapes or even a combination as in Oiseau sur une branche. It’s all fascinating and pushes the boundaries of the plastic.

Along with the art are two videos, one a French film made in 1974 of an interview with Mirό (he lived in France for many years). In it we see his love of his Catalan heritage: when asked in French about tradition, he replies in Catalan. He expresses his sadness about Spain.  He says he never dreams. When he sleeps, he sleeps. Given the dream-like nature of much of his work, that is astounding. The other video dates from 1969 and shows Mirό painting on the huge windows of a college—and then scraping off the paint. Unfortunately,  this film has an annoying sound track, but it’s worth watching to see the paint flung on the glass and then removed.

The Seattle Art Museum has scored again with this beautifully mounted show.  And in its own touch of whimsy, the gallery has included a room at the end where visitors can play on computers and make their own art.

Candace Fertile teaches English at Camosun College.

Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon

Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon               

Seattle Art Museum, until January 5, 2014

Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Audio tours free–download app from website (, download podcast from website, audio guide wands available at SAM (also has extended visual descriptions)

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

The Seattle Art Museum is the only United States museum to have this exhibit, and with over 300 works, Peru: Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon is a delight for anyone interested in the history and art of Peru. The exhibit covers more than 3000 years of human activity and includes treasures of Macchu Picchu, royal tombs and modern folk art.

The lavish use of gold and silver for ornaments and utensils reveals the wealth of the Inca and other ancient civilzations, along with their attention to detailed beauty.  Animals feature widely as does the human body. A  gold forehead ornament from the Mochica culture, about 100-800 CE, has a cat’s head and octopus tentacles. The cat’s fangs are great. Sculptures of human genitals presumably celebrate fecundity and the wonder of conception and birth. The art works are both earthy and other worldly, a splendid combination of the known and the mysterious.

One of the most intriguing pieces is a quipo, an arrangement of knotted cords in order to keep records. It dates form 1450-1532, and is elegantly arranged in a fan display, although it was likely meant to be purely functional. It has 226 strings, and no one but the maker can decipher its meaning. Some communities still possess quipo, but their system of counting is lost. For a civilization with no written records, quipo were a valuable innovation.

Artists of the past were skilled in metals, ceramics and fabrics. Once the Spanish arrived, the art became Catholic and often seems gloomy to me. Attempts were made to blend cultures, but the dividing line is death. The ancient cultures had a different attitude, and that is seen in their art and artifacts. The pre-columbian works are the most interesting , I thought, along with photographs of people.  Hans Brüning’s late 19th century photos and Eduardo Calderón’s 21st century photos are arresting.

One disturbing display is a video of Chancay tomb raiders who call themselves “Pirates of the Huacas.” Once these raiders loot a tomb, any archeological knowledge is lost forever, but, because there’s money to be made, they don’t care.  There’s something mystical about their activities as drugs are involved, but the destruction is permanent. The black market in art works thrives  presumably because of poverty and the collectors’ greed. This display is an effort at educating people about the danger of raiding and stealing art.

The Seattle Art Museum once again delivers an informative and beautiful exhibit.

Candace Fertile is a Victoria reviewer.

Nisga’a poet challenges anthropology

The Place of Scraps

By Jordan Abel,


272 pages, $19.95

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

The Place of Scraps by Nisga’a writer Jordan Abel is a collection of poetry with an intriguing premise: Abel has started with Totem Poles, a foundation text by noted anthropologist Marius Barbeau, extricated passages, and created word pictures and images to explore the tangled relationship between cultures and the exploration of them.

Abel employs the technique of erasure, and in some cases gets a poem down to punctuation, forming a cloud of tiny marks, reminiscent of fireflies or mosquitoes. The use of blank space on most pages is remarkable, opening up the possibility of a wide array of thought and feeling regarding what has happened to First Nations culture. And on pages filled with images and letters, the same opportunity is paradoxically presented.

A fragmented thread of narrative conveys the story of Abel’s life, in particular his contact with a totem pole from his ancestral village, which his mother has identified in a book and says he saw as a child. “But the recurrence of the totem pole in the poet’s life combined with an apparent failure of memory carries with it a multiplicity of emotions.” The carved pole connects Abel to his people, as does a spoon carved by his absent father and given to him by friends of his father. The concept of carving connects objects—the wood of the poles and the spoon—and words or images carved out of Barbeau’s work by Abel’s imagination. And one carves out a life of surrounding matter. Or possibly one is carved out of life.

This book is meant to be absorbed more than read. Abel does develop forward motion, but a reader gains much pleasure from going back and looking at random pages as visual art as much as poetry. Many of the pages present pictures of words or letters or images with words and letters in the background. Sometimes the letters are piled up as if a typewriter stuttered or a printer jammed, resulting in a heavy black cloud of repetition. The black and white pictures of totem poles, sometimes presented sideways or upside down, are arresting.

The Nisga’a and other carvers of poles did not try to preserve them. The poles eventually fell and rotted, returning to the earth in a natural cycle. When Abel finally goes to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to see the pole his mother talked about, his experience captures an aspect of cultural difference: “The poet confronts the admissions staff member at the ROM, explains that he refuses to pay to see a totem pole that was taken from his ancestral village. . . . The staff member shrugs, verbalizes his apathy, and allows the poet in to the museum. The pole towers through the staircase; the poet circles up to the top. The pole is here; the poet is here.”

I love the symmetry of that line—“The pole is here; the poet is here”—just as much as I love the fact that the paper of this book is made from wood pulp, and this particular object will also form a step in a natural cycle of change, both concrete and abstract.


Candace Fertile is a Victoria reviewer who teaches English at Camosun College

Novel captures culture clashes


By Diana Davidson

Brindle and Glass

280 pages, $19.95

 Reviewed by Candace Fertile

Given the climate, people had huge challenges surviving in the late-nineteenth century in small communities on the Candian prairies. But the struggles with cold, heat, and bugs, to name just a few, are almost minor compared to the problems created by human beings: discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, and class. Diana Davidson does a solid job in her debut novel, Pilgrimage, of recreating both the physical landscape of Lac St. Anne, in the Edmonton, Alberta, area,  and the ideologies that affect its inhabitants’ behaviour from December, 1891 to March, 1893.

Lac St. Anne is a mix of European, Cree, and Métis people, languages, and customs. Power is held by the few Europeans who tend to be dismissive of the aboriginal people while feeling quite free to treat them brutally. Virginié Cardinal points out the variety in her family background:  “ . . . everyone here, except Nohkum [grandmother], is a mix of something: Cree, French, Scottish, Blackfoot, Dene, and Lord knows what else!” Her teenage daughter, Mahkesîs, is one of the three main female characters, and like the other two, Mahkesîs is treated vilely by James Barrett, the Hudson’s Bay store manager.  Barrett also preys on Moira Murphy, a young Irish immigrant in his employ. And his third victim is his own wife Georgina, who is not above abusing those she can.

Mahkesîs, Moira, and Georgina all have secrets having to do with sensuality and desire, and in the case of the two young women, love. In this novel, sexuality is a trap for women, just another thing that hampers their lives even if conception was the result of love. Certainly men are adversely affected, but the focus is on the female characters and their lack of power.

Given the novel’s time and place, readers should not expect a happy ending, and as the novel progresses, the sadness and death mount. Moira loves Gabriel, Mahkesîs’s handsome brother, and he loves her, but will that be enough to save her from the clutches of the Barretts? Mahkesîs seeks solace in a convent and in unconventional love. Georgina devises cruel plans while revealing that her own life was severely damaged when her parents married her off to a man older than her father.

The moments of happiness are meagre for all the characters, and Davidson does not shy away from showing the negative effects of enforced religion and language  — or the huge problems of created by alcohol addiction. When cultures come together, the meeting can be mutually beneficial. It can also be a collision in which the powerful abuse their position, leading to suffering and loss. While Davidson occasionally lapses into the stereotypical, the lessons of this novel are valuable ones.


Candace Fertile lived for many years in Edmonton and now teaches English at Camosun College

Japanese fashion worth trip to Seattle

Future Beauty: Thirty Years of Japanese Fashion

Until September 8 at Seattle Art Museum Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

Wednesday: 10 am–5 pm
Thursday: 10 am–9 pm
Friday–Sunday: 10 am–5

Tickets: 17$, includes admission to special exhibit and rest of gallery

More Information:


Reviewed by Candace Fertile


Anyone contemplating an end-of-summer dash to Seattle should consider the current special exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), Future Beauty: Thirty Years of Japanese Fashion, in which thirty-one designers and almost 100 dresses are included.

The exhibit features clothes that work as sculpture or architecture. Many of the pieces are more about what is possible with various materials rather than what is wearable, but the development of the shapes over the last few decades by Japanese designers has had a huge impact on what women do wear.

The big names are represented, in particular the seismic game changers of  Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, whose 1983 summer launch in Paris shifted gown design form the fitted to garments that skimmed the female body, often with asymmetric lines. And colour was reduced to black and white, which ironically opened up the visual field.

The exhibit is from the Kyoto Costume Institute and is curated by its director, Akiko Fukai. While many of the pieces look like something to hang on a wall or perhaps on Lady Gaga, the idea of the playful shapes is intriguing for clothing in general. And some of the pieces, while art, are definitely elegant and flattering to the female form. Others, such as a plastic tent dress or the insanely high heelless platform shoes (making the foot look like a hoof) appear to mock themselves.

The rooms of SAM are spacious enough so that even when full of people, sufficient space exits to view the dresses. Accompanying the clothes are numerous videos of fashion shows, and they are as extreme as the exhibits. One has Orff’s Carmina Burana as the background music;  watching models sidle down the runway to “O Fortuna” gives a sense of the hype surrounding this often magical and often equally pretentious world of fashion.

The most amazing pieces for are those that use the tradition of origami. The ethereal gowns are shown twice—once on mannequins and once folded into exquisite flat patterns. Either way they are marvels of precision.  Such beauty contrasts with the excesses of Hello Kitty kitsch and dresses that look as if they have sprouted massive tumours.

Clothing is not neutral. It always announces something:  this exhibit says  that there’s a wide range of possibility in human garb, from the ridiculous to the sublime.



Candace Fertile is a local art-loving writer and reviewer



Collection reveals largesse of Planet Earth

Poems from Planet Earth
Edited by Yvonne Blomer and Cynthia Woodman Kerkham
Leaf Press, 208 pages, $20

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

Planet Earth Poetry is a reading series at the Moka House in Victoria, and over the years many poets have offered their work to an appreciative audience. Editors Yvonne Blomer (who runs the reading series) and occasional host Cynthia Woodman Kerkham have assembled a diverse collection from over one hundred poets who have read, showcasing the richness of Planet Earth.

Patrick Lane, a star not only in the local poetry scene, but also in the poetry world at large, contributes both a poem and the introduction to the book. He explains the genesis of the series’ name, which is taken from P.K. Page’s poem “Planet Earth,” and notes that Page “is one of the masters, the progenitors of the poems that live among these pages.” Lane eloquently shows poetry’s importance: “We reside forever in this one precious moment. Life seethes around us. It lives, it dies, it lives again. A poem is at times our only stay against all that assails us.” Poems from Planet Earth presents an exuberant cacophony of voices examining uncountable facets of life.

Blomer and Kerkham had a monumental task in creating the volume; choosing how to organize the book must have been a challenge. The editors have opted for seven broad categories into which they have placed the poems, with a short introduction to each section: Life and Loss, Nature, Place, Love, Death and Hope, Music and Art, and Family. Obviously, many poems could be slotted into numerous categories. The volume also includes acknowledgements and biographies, so it’s a handy tool for further investigation. Curiously, the alphabetical contents at the beginning are by poet’s first name, rendering the list less helpful than it could be, but that is a minor quibble as the biographies are alphabetized by last name.

The voices contained include the well-known, such as Lane, Lorna Crozier, Jan Zwicky, Pamela Porter, Patrick Friesen, Patricia Young, and Sheri-D Wilson. But with so many contributors, most readers are sure to discover a new voice. And as over half of the poems are published for the first time in this volume, every reader will encounter something unfamiliar.

The forms vary enormously, with most being free verse, but closed forms such as the pantoum can be found (John Barton’s “Les beaux-arts, Montréal”) or the sestina (Tanis MacDonald’s “Sestina: Whiskey Canyon”). This volume does good job of showing the vastness of poetic approaches.

I’d recommend dipping into this book at random. It doesn’t matter if the poems are read in the order as presented. The content is a bit uneven, but with so much included, readers will get much of value. Kudos to Planet Earth Poetry for its continued celebration of poetry, and kudos to Blomer and Kerkham for creating this engaging and eclectic collection.

Candace Fertile is  Coastal Spectator’s poetry editor.  

Readers, buy this mouth-watering treat

Island Wineries of British Columbia (updated and expanded)
Edited by Gary Hynes
Contributors from EAT Magazine
Photographs by Rebecca Wellman
TouchWood Editions, 256 pages, $29.95.

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

This book was first published in 2011 and won the 2012 Gourmand International Wine Books Award for Canada, among other accolades. That a revised edition was deemed necessary is a testament to the growth in wine-producing on Vancouver Island.

The volume is a visual treat that will whet anyone’s appetite for the marvels that can be produced in our own back yard, from the Saaanich Peninsula to Sooke to the Cowichan Valley and beyond. Port Alberni has wineries. Saturna and Saltspring have wineries. So much is happening in regard to local food and drink, and Island Wineries of British Columbia provides an excellent introduction not only to wine from grapes, but also to wine from other fruit, plus mead, cider, and spirits. There’s even a selection of recipes featuring local ingredients—and suggestions for wine pairings. Chai Tea Honey Cake with Summer Fruits (suggested beverage—Venturi-Schulze Brandenburg No. 3 or a sparkling wine or blackberry dessert wine) is next on my baking list.

Hynes has assembled a huge amount of information by various writers, experts in the topics and, perhaps even more important, lovers of the local. Larry Arnold gives a short history of Island wines; Adam Tepedelen describes the Island wineries, often by using the words of the growers and vintners. Jeff Bateman, Treve Ring, and Adam Tepedelen explain the varieties of grapes; Julie Pegg gives us recipes sources from local restaurants. Kathryn McAree suggests some touring routes, and the volume concludes with a list of restaurants featuring Island wines.

Island Wineries of British Columbia is useful for beginner and expert alike, and the gorgeous photographs of Rebecca Wellman add to the mouth-watering effect. This book is marked by the sheer exuberance of the contributors: drink and food are pleasures, and to explore the pleasures of Island offerings is relatively easy. And the overall message is that what we have here is different from what is available from other wine-producing areas. The terroir changes the taste, as do the weather and the skills of the wine-maker. Over and over, wine-makers assert the challenge of making wine in BC. The growing season is short compared to, say that of the Okanagan. But the mild winters create an advantage in protecting vines. White wines, especially bubbly, tend to be more successful than red, but the local growers and vintners are in a constant state of experimentation and openness to what may work.

And the wine world on the islands is new. While people have made wine for ages, the business of it is only about twenty years old. What is being made is remarkable and testifies to the dedication of the people involved and the natural gifts of the regions.

Island Wineries of British Columbia would make a lovely gift for those interested in local fare. Buy one for yourself and one (or more) to give away.

Candace Fertile is a voracious reader who also enjoys food and wine.

Ballet Victoria strives for fusion

Dances with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ballet Victoria, Royal Theatre, Victoria
May 30-31

Reviewed by Candace Fertile

Ballet Victoria is known for its innovative, eclectic choreography, and Dances with Wolfgang effectively demonstrates the fusion of classic and contemporary. Paul Destrooper, the artistic director of the company, choreographed this latest offering.  His personal touch is evident not only in the moves but also the sounds.

Destrooper gave a short introduction to the audience May 30, explaining that the ballet is not a coherent narrative but a series of linked vignettes or images meant to evoke emotion. He noted that musicians, like dancers, face challenges, and focused on the difficulties Mozart had. In a smooth transition, Destrooper spoke of the problems life flung at Freddie Mercury, whose music with Queen is used in the ballet. Most of the music is Mozart’s, with one selection, “Skyfall,” by Adele. As the music of a dance performance affects whether or not I can enjoy it, the choices (especially all the Mozart) were a joy.

The idea of the ballet is to show how Mozart’s imagination was stifled by his job as a court composer. The role of Mozart was danced by Matthew Cluff, and the Muse was Andrea Bayne. The King (Geoff Malcolm, in what may be his last performance with the company) and the Queen (Keika Hayashi) made a memorable couple visually. The rest of the company played attendants, musicians, courtiers, music, and instruments. Destrooper played Death, whose embrace ultimately frees Mozart from the burden of conformity.

The stark set allowed focus on movement. One prop was a table that served several purposes, the most exceptional being a piano with the dancers’ legs becoming the piano keys. Fog infused much of the performance, lending a dreamy quality when Mozart was at the height of his powers, then an oppressive atmosphere when he was suffering at court. The lighting worked well with the clean stage and fog.

The company is a young one, and it’s facing financial trouble, an all-too-often-heard lament from the arts sector in general. Destrooper’s blend of old and new may not be for everyone, but the audience on May 30, while small, was definitely appreciative. The dancers are competent, and the troop is developing. Cluff and Bayne do an excellent job with the varying needs of their roles, and the Attendants (Parisa Mehgregan, Hikari Shigeno, Azusa Kishida, and Ayaka Miyazaki) looked especially entrancing in their matching white dresses while they swirled elegantly. And the Attendants injected humour into what is at times a sad story. The timing needs some work, but the Attendants were a pleasure to behold.

While Ballet Victoria’s reputation is partially built on synthesis, it does get a tiny bit routine to be sitting waiting for the next surprise. Inserting a moonwalk into ballet gets attention, but after a while, the movements seem to be created more for surprise than to serve aesthetics or narrative.

The company is also committed to breaking certain barriers: Andrea Bayne sang “Skyfall,” then moved smoothly back into role as the Muse. (That took guts—Bayne’s voice is not Adele’s.) Having expressed my reservations about the eclectic nature of the choreography, I am determined to see more of Ballet Victoria’s performances to try to understand more fully what this company has to offer. And make no mistake—this company has a great deal to offer.

Candace Fertile is Coastal Spectator’s poetry editor and a local reviewer.