Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - Z

*tooting little horn*  Welcome to Day 26 of the A to Z Blog Challenge. My third completed challenge--thanks to everyone who dropped by. Today:


is for


In the sequel to my dark fantasy novel, BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE, releasing later this summer, the sect of monks who stamped out the use of magick are the zealots to whom I refer. 

In the world of Dragonsfyre, called the Eighth Dominion, dragons plague the people in bursts of destructive sightings, rather like the tornadoes of this world. Generations back, a sect of monks linked the dragon sightings to the use of magick, and since that time magick has been outlawed in the Eighth Dominion. Of course, the monks then replaced the seers as imperial consultants.

To wrap up this year's A to Z Blog Challenge, here is a sneak peek at Book 2 in my Dragonsfyre series:

Dragon signs were everywhere.
          Xaviero kept this to himself as he scanned the sky for confirmation that the inevitable drew nearer. No one must even suspect that he could foretell the future.
          Instead, he sat in the cadet’s hall staring down at his plate of food, listening past the low hum of the other boys’ conversations. 
Seers were blessed by the gods, it was said. Yet the monks who served these gods rejected visions as proof of magick.
Best to sit here ignoring the ominous sound of many little animals rushing away at once. It would take only a few moments more, and surely the cadets on watch would see the movement along the ground.
His pulse raced, though he sat as still as he could, his fork poised above the chunks of meat in thin gravy. How oblivious they were, the other boys and the older officers both. Eat quickly, he wanted to urge them.
Taking his own advice, he grabbed one last mouthful as the hall darkened, frantic flapping overhead announcing birds in mixed flocks in the air above their academy.
          Conversation ceased. Heads turned.
          A sharp bugle call warned of danger.
          Cadets and officers called orders as boys ran according to drill and shutters slammed. Xaviero blocked all of it out as he bolted for the middle of the yard, free to turn his head to the sky as the chaos provided cover at last.
          There it was, a large black form far off in the late afternoon sky, sunlight glinting off scales as the dragon approached with impossible speed. Xaviero’s thrill at finally seeing a dragon with his own eyes splintered into cold fear.
          The wings flapped once, twice, then held straight as it glided in eerie silence directly towards the academy. Xaviero made out spiky horns along its head and spine, its mouth opening to reveal teeth as big as swords.
          The dragon’s cry rent the air as Xaviero was lifted bodily, carried at a run by one of the commanding officers towards the barracks. Taking the few steps in one leap, the officer dove with Xaviero through the door, landing hard on the wooden slats just as the heat of the dragon’s fire burst in yellow and orange plumes to blot out the sky.
          A hot blast of wind slammed the door shut as the searing flames poured over and around the stone barracks. Xaviero and the officer hid their faces from the heat, but when they could no longer hold their breath, they lifted their heads to find smoke filling the barracks. The officer pulled Xaviero to his feet, already turning to head for the door.
          That’s when Xaviero was struck with a vision.
          The grip of the officer’s hand upon him as he made to leave was all it took. In that split second Xaviero knew he must not let the officer open that door.
          Dragging back upon the man’s arm with all his weight, Xaviero cried, “No, Sir! No!”
          The officer stopped and looked down at Xaviero, eyes filled with disbelief that fear had got the best of a top cadet. “We’re getting out of here,” he said in a voice that brooked no argument.
          Again, he made for the door. Yet Xaviero knew without a shred of doubt that it would be the last thing the officer would ever do.
          Grabbing the man’s arm and pulling so hard the fabric ripped, Xaviero said, “Sir!” with the authority of a commander. “You’ll be burnt up!”
          Stopping in his tracks, the officer turned to gaze at Xaviero with a hint of dread in his face. He stopped pulling against Xaviero and listened. The crackling sound of flames could now be heard just outside the door.
          With the heavy energy of the dragon’s flight still swirling in the air, the officer seemed to shake off the notion that Xaviero had divined the future in time to save his life. If that were the case, it would mean that a boy in their academy was an adept at magicke.
          It was easier just to leave the barracks by climbing through the window on the other side of the common room, easier never to mention an incident forbidden by imperial decree to his superiors once the reports were finally given.
          At least, Xaviero was never called to headquarters to explain himself, though the officer in question gave him wide berth from that day forth.

Copyright - Julia Phillips Smith - 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - Y

Welcome to Day 25 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge. Today:


is for


Yashtii is a supporting female character in my dark fantasy novel, BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE

A member of the Sibiu, a nomadic people who live on the edges of Eighth Dominion society, she is not the sort of choice any member of the nobility have made for a bride. Until now.

For today's post, meet Yashtii in this excerpt:

Something else had begun to pull his attention to the far corner of the hall.

            Several of the guard had posted themselves near a small group of nobles who managed to stand out from the rest, even in this finely turned-out company. Three males and one female, as richly attired as anyone else, yet something about their demeanor felt at odds. Scorpius’ senses sharpened to a knife edge.

            The nearest door was a dozen strides away.
            His best choice was to push Lord Thibault beneath the solid banquet table and cover him with his body while the guard took action, as he knew they would. Now that he’d worked out a plan, he fanned his fingers over his sword pommel and stood poised to spring.
            Still, the eating and conversation continued, laughter pealing up over the coiffures as though nothing simmered in the afternoon air.
            Somehow the young woman from the little knot of suspicious nobles had caught his master’s eye. This time, it was impossible not to notice Lord Thibault’s interest in the exotic lady, even when he could not see his master’s face.
            Wasn’t she a beauty? Her skin was a shade darker than most other ladies’, her eyes alight with tracery that brought out an irresistible wildness. Her hair was well-concealed beneath a scarf and hat arrangement that only served to make Scorpius long to tug at them both, to see her locks tumble free.
            The more eligible young lady continued to engage his master with glances and conversation. The dukessa continued to smile discreetly upon her son from the gallery. However, the chancellor followed Scorpius’ focus upon the unknown nobles and the interest shown them by the guard.
            Scorpius tried to read the chancellor’s signals, but the older man was too schooled in deception to give anything away. All he could do was be ready to draw his sword if it came to that. Even if that meant striking down the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.


            It was a blessing that Scorpius had taken to dancing so readily. Keeping one eye trained to the next figure in the promenade, while the other eye scanned the room--in particular the other dancers—was no small task.
            No less distracting was the exotic beauty who’d obviously captured Lord Thibault’s notice. To his master’s credit, Lord Thibault spread his charmed responses equally among the assembled young ladies. Not even the fair-haired favorite of the dukessa and the chancellor could suspect what Scorpius knew with certainty.
            By the time the night gave way to dawn and the guests made their yawning reverences to Lord Thibault and the dukessa, Scorpius bristled with the need for sleep. Yet there would be none, as Lord Thibault brushed past him briefly to conceal a murmured request.
            Scorpius fought to conceal his expression, unable to prevent himself glancing through the crowd toward her.
            The mysterious one’s retinue didn’t miss Scorpius’ interest. He saw how they reached subtly for their sword hilts.
            Lord Thibault strode forward to take his delighted mother’s hands in his, bending his head to kiss her cheek and leaving Scorpius to devise a means of stopping the unknown beauty from departing. How was he to arrange a decidedly unofficial meeting with her when her kinsmen never left her side?
            Scorpius forced himself to walk toward them, still unsure of how he would phrase his master’s request. He saw the men fan out slightly around their prize, standing as tall as they could, broadening their stances. He judged from their reaction to his approach that it was he who held the upper hand, and slowed his pace accordingly.
            Once he stood before the mysterious one, Scorpius felt the pull of her allure like a lethal undertow. He quickly dropped his gaze, unwilling to look into those violet eyes. Taking her hand in his, he bowed and kissed her knuckles.
            “My Lord Thibault requests that you stroll with me into the garden,” Scorpius said. “He regrets that the evening sped by so quickly that he was unable to get to know you…better.”
            The young lady curtsied to him with an aggressive movement unlike any other lady present. Her guard also bowed quickly to him. Imagine it. As easy as that.
            Striding toward a far doorway, leaving his master to chuckle and quip with the last of the departing guests, Scorpius led the exotic beauty and her kinsmen into the dew-chilled air. The sky lightened in gray warning.
            Their steps echoed on the empty flagstones, their path twisting farther into the recesses of the garden. Scorpius ignored the tightness in his gut as he wiped the stone bench dry. The mysterious one settled herself to wait. It didn’t take long.
            When Lord Thibault arrived, Scorpius and the lady’s retinue stepped into the shadows with one accord. Glancing back at his master, Scorpius’ breath caught in his chest as he saw Lord Thibault’s hands slip the young lady’s headpiece and scarf aside.
            Tumbling free, the mysterious one’s hair wasn’t simply dark, or fiery, or fair as Scorpius had longed to discover. No, her locks fell in black and white stripes such as he had never seen before.
            Turning to the men surrounding him, he saw now that each one also hid his hair beneath a scarf and cap. In their gazes Scorpius saw ferocious pride in the secret he now held about them.
            The young lady returned Lord Thibault’s kisses and embraces with matching ardor. Scorpius hoped his master knew what he was doing. Wordlessly, Scorpius raised one finger to his eye and then swept his hand toward the estate grounds.
The men turned and kept watch while Scorpius kept his eye on Lord Thibault and his lady. It would be hours yet before Scorpius saw his bed, and even then, how would he rest when this was where his master determined to lead them?

Copyright - Julia Phillips Smith - 2012

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - X

Welcome to Day 24 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge. Today:


is for


As you may have noticed from my musical set yesterday, where W was for Xena, Warrior Princess, Xena is one of my favorite fictional characters.

My husband and I named our late dog after Xena. She was our warrior princess, all right.

We were blessed to have her for our dog, and in the year since she's been gone, it's been a gradual healing process for all of us--my husband, my mom and me. We all live together. We were all Xena's pack. She was a cherished member of our family.

It's taken awhile, but we're all starting to feel drawn toward getting another dog. I'm certain that by the time we ring in 2014, there will be a new member of our family to help us do that, and we'll once again be members of a pack.

Here's to Xena, with love.


Friday, April 26, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - W - 5 on Friday Set 168

On this final Friday of the A to Z Blog Challenge we return again to the musical feature, 5 on Friday.

Travis at Trav's Thoughts invites everyone to lay down a short set of music that takes their fancies for his 5 on Friday meme.

On Day 23 of the A to Z Blog Challenge


is for

Xena, Warrior Princess

This warrior has a special spot on my list of all-time favorite characters. Battle on, Xena.

1 - Main Title Theme  - composed by Joseph LoDuca

2 - Melt Into Me - performed by the late Kevin Smith as Ares

This song is from a musical episode called The Bitter Suite. Kevin Smith's Ares is a particular favorite of mine, and when he began dancing in this segment, I nearly lost my mind (in a good way!) 

3 - Joxer the Mighty - performed by Ted Raimi, who played Joxer the comic relief / loyal friend / unrequited love interest of Xena's best friend Gabrielle

This theme appears from time to time throughout the series. In this version, it's used as part of the narrative in The Bitter Suite. 

4 -California Sun - The Rivieras

This is a fan vid featuring Aphrodite, the goddess of love played by Alexandra Tydings. Aphrodite was about as far away from the warrior princess as you could get, yet somehow I fell for her charms like any other mere mortal.

5 - Bad Romance - Lady Gaga

Xena's complicated relationship with Ares was my favorite part of this series. If I create a fictional relationship with this much heat / longing / fear / rage / control / surrender, I'll be a very happy woman.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - V - Thursday Thirteen - 276

On Day 22 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge


is for

Velocatus and the other brethren from my Dark Ages vampire novel

1 -  On Tuesday I introduced my main female character from SAINT SANGUINUS with an excerpt. T was a perfect day to meet Tanwen, the Welsh chieftain's daughter left behind to mourn her warrior bethrothed when he fell to a spear during a raid against the Irish.

As Tanwen discovers, Peredur did not die in the conventional sense. His curses hurled at God with his dying breath called the members of the brethren to collect him for duty in their elite brotherhood.

Peredur becomes a vampire whose task is to prevent humans from wiping out all vampires, and to prevent vampires from turning all humans into vampires. He is a vampire prevented from living the life of a true vampire, while no longer able to live life as a man.

Today I'd like to introduce the other members of Peredur's brotherhood, beginning with:

2 - Velocatus

This member of the brethren hails from present-day northern England, in the area now known as Richmond in North Yorkshire. 

3 - Velocatus belonged to a tribe known as the Brigantes when he lived as a man. They made up a thriving agricultural and trading culture in the present-day Midlands during Roman rule.

In SAINT SANGUINUS, Velocatus is especially adept at sword fighting.

4 - This novel takes place in 6th century Wales, and besides Welsh hero Peredur and Northern English Velocatus, there is another member of the brethren who hails from what we now call the British Isles:


5 - Brude is a Pict from the modern-day Inverness area of Scotland. There are two members of the brethren that Peredur befriends with closer ties than the others, and Brude is one of them.

6 - Peredur's other close friend is Sigbjorn. In fact, Sigbjorn becomes Peredur's closest friend amongst the brethren.

7 - Sigbjorn hails from the present-day Stockholm area of Sweden. Because the brotherhood is made up of warriors who curse God with their dying breath, their rarity makes collecting them from all across the world a necessity. 

8 - The moodiest and most reclusive of the brethren is Adalhard.

9 - Adalhard once lived in the modern-day area of Orleans, France.

10 - The member of the brethren who gives Peredur the most confusion is Wladislaw, from modern-day Poland.

11 - In an era when all men either serve a master or fight their way to leading others, the brethren operate as a collection of equals. Because Wladislaw was once a prince among men, Peredur finds it nearly impossible to treat the nobleman as an equal.

12 - The member of the brethren who showed up at Peredur's side as he took his last breath upon the battlefield was Melnak.

13 - Melnak came to Wales from across the continent, beginning his mortal life in Byzantium, or modern-day Turkey.

Here's the book trailer for SAINT SANGUINUS, which I wrote and directed (produced by Charlie Mac Productions:)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - U

Welcome to Day 21 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge. Today:


is for

Underground Magick

For those of you who have been following my challenge all month, you'll know that the first half was also a blog tour for my dark fantasy, BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE.

In my interviews I was asked about my next project, which is the sequel to Scorpius' story. For today's 'U' post, I'll give a little preview of the second book in the Dragonsfyre series.

These books take place in a land called the Eighth Dominion, one of twelve provinces ruled over by the emperor. In this land's history, magick was once practised openly, until a religious order rose to power and linked the devastating dragon attacks to the practise of magick.

At that time, the monks were installed as imperial advisors, while anyone unfortunate enough to be known as an adept at magick was hunted down and weeded out. Those who continued to be born with the gifts of sight and who wielded control of magick were forced at an early age to keep these aspects of themselves a closely-guarded secret.

Two major characters in the new book, which will be releasing later this summer, have made their way through the world by keeping their magick a secret. Yet both of them feel the time may be right for magick to emerge from its underground status--especially since the use of it may be the only thing that will save the Eighth Dominion from the destruction of the dragon.

Here's a brief preview excerpt from Dragonsfyre Book 2:

Lying angry and awake in the dark once again, listening to the sleeping sounds of the other cadets, Xaviero put two and two together as his Beloved came to him, gliding silently like a phantom.
Only now did he realize that she came to him in times of despair. His heart seized with dread as she neared him. He couldn’t bear to see more of his future self, chained to the dragon in that wooded ruin, not after the day he’d had. Yet he craved her presence with a force that left him trembling. Again she sat on his cot, reaching forward to brush a strand of hair from his eyes.
Between heart beats, he became that naked future version of himself, kneeling at the base of the statue, his arms pulled behind him, his wrists chained to the stone with cold cruelty.
He felt the gravel digging into his legs as he knelt in this ancient forest clearing, felt the coolness of the stone dragon against his shivering flesh. When he looked up into her gaze that saw him more truly than anyone else, he knew once again that she was meant for him. The realization that he must wait for her burst through his body like a geyser.
Xaviero heard himself moan in the midst of his vision, and he twisted his head back and forth, trying to wake himself out of it. Yet he came to at the feet of his commanding officer and the dormitory steward, both staring at him in the chill light of dawn.
Marched to the commander’s barracks, Xaviero stood and answered questions until his officer tired of his lies.
Xaviero heard the orders to report to their hand-to-hand combat master, his wounded pride forcing his feet to take the steps that would bring him to a rare penalty drill. An exacting cadet with a sense of impatience with the youthful high jinks of his peers, he’d helped to send a few of his fellows to a similar fate without so much as a moment’s hesitation, certain they’d deserved it.
As the sweat stung his eyes, his body rebelling with the effort to obey the master’s relentless commands, Xaviero wished he knew what to do with his magicke instead of spending so much time hiding it. Tumbling to the ground with a flattening blow, he picked himself up to face more, wishing he had a friend to stand in the shadows awaiting him once this was over, as all the other cadets had.
Thus far he was on his own, both with his visions and his years at the academy. He’d never encountered anyone who may have also had visions, though for magicke to be outlawed, at one time in the dominions there must have been practising adepts.
The very next night his Beloved walked towards him in the gloom. Xaviero lay on his side, his back to the other cadets, staring into the dark as his muscles and joints flared with pain.
When she appeared, Xaviero almost spoke aloud. No, he said in his mind. I can’t take any more of this.
Hush, my love, she answered him.
Xaviero pushed himself up with a wince, glancing around him in a panic. None of the other boys stirred.
His Beloved sat upon his cot as she always did. She reached up and wiped the trickling sweat from his face.
You will be asked to suffer for me, she said, hugging his head to her breast. Will you be brave for me? No matter what is asked of you?
Xaviero nodded, unable to speak, not even in his mind.
There’s something I need you to do, she said.
Nodding again, he gazed into her eyes that seemed to see into all his hidden desires.
When we meet, we must embark upon a course of action which the dominions have forbidden. Do you know of what I speak?
Yes, my lady, he finally managed.
Then find a teacher who will prepare us for that which awaits.
Xaviero came to, clutching his crumpled pillow as the cool dawn sent the shadows scurrying. At first stretching stiffly, he froze as his muscles seized in protest.
He remembered what his Beloved had asked of him. Gritting his teeth, Xaviero forced himself to move through the pain as though hacking his way through impassable hedgerows. It wasn’t easy, but through sheer force of will he got through the day with only the barest of signs that he suffered.
He saw the bent heads, noticed his fellow cadets whispering. He even saw the officers taking note of how quickly he’d apparently recovered from that which they knew their drill master could dish out.
You will be asked to suffer for me, his Beloved had warned.
All he’d done was to recover from a penalty drill more quickly than expected. Yet it was a simple thing to go from that to rumors of how he’d recovered, and then to accusations of unnatural means, especially when he had no friends at the academy to set the record straight at mess and during drill practise.
The only person to whom he’d ever felt truly close was his mother. At this late stage of the game, all the alliances had been forged amongst a group of boys who’d studied and trained together for years.
On a wearying day when those same two hostile cadets and one of the officers he admired most seemed to have joined forces to make him crack, an approaching carriage churning up dust in the road outside their gates made Xaviero look up from the demeaning work detail to which he’d been assigned.
Along with everyone else unlucky enough to be clearing the yard of manure in the chilly afternoon, Xaviero stopped to watch a green recruit disembark and gaze longingly after the carriage as it made its way back onto the road.
A calculating idea struck him as the boy looked around for some sort of welcome or direction. This boy was unclaimed by anyone, and Xaviero needed an ally. Dropping his shovel on the ground, he ambled over to the new arrival with as much of a smile as he could conjure up, not having much experience with this sort of thing.
“Looking for the officer on watch?” he asked.
The new boy nodded warily. He seemed a reasonable sort. For all Xaviero knew, he was a complete ass or an idiot, but he no longer had the luxury of picking a good match for himself. He needed a friend, and this boy would be it.

Copyright - Julia Phillips Smith - 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - T

Welcome to Day 20 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge. Today:


is for


Tanwen is the main female character in my Dark Ages vampire novel, SAINT SANGUINUS

The daughter of the local chieftain, she was betrothed to warrior Peredur until he fell to a spear upon the battlefield.

For today's post, meet Tanwen in this excerpt:

Tanwen clapped both hands over her mouth. Her shaky breathing filled the hut as she realized Peredur truly lay at her father’s front door.
                “Tanwen,” he whispered. He regained his feet then reached a hand to her. “Come away.”
She looked back toward her sisters, at her brother curled by the fire, at her parents under the covers. So odd that none had awakened. Plucking a cloak from a peg on the wall, Tanwen wrapped it about herself, pushing aside the door flap to stride outside into the cold night.
                Her Peredur swept her up in his arms, running easily for a spell until he brought them far into the woods and out of the numbing wind. She clung to him, marveling at his solidness.
                How it hurt to be separated as he set her down on an overturned tree. He knelt before her on the thin powdering of snow. Tanwen clutched the woolen cloak tightly, her breath frosting white in the air between them.
                “I was told...” she tried. Reaching forward to touch his cheek, a part of her recoiled at the whisper of death she found there.
                Her beloved brought his hand up to cover hers. “Here I am,” he said at last.
                “But Cynfelyn,” she said. “He saw you fall. To a spear.”
                Peredur looked away.
                “How did you survive it?” she said, a tinge of fear underneath her words. She pulled her hand back, away from his face.
                “I didn’t,” he said simply, lifting his head to look her straight in the eye.
What could he mean? He was right here, solid and in front of her.
                “I did fall to a spear.” He lifted his tunic but there was no scar from the wound. His flesh was white as a corpse. She covered her mouth with her hand, but the shriek of pure panic escaped her.
                “I am no longer a man, Tanwen.”
                 Tears poured down her face. Why stop them?
                “I did not survive that battle. Cynfelyn was right to tell you what he did. I am no longer the Peredur who grew up here in this village.”
                “Why have you taken me here?” she asked, noticing the remoteness surrounding them as if for the first time.
                “I wanted to tell you I love you.”
                What he had never actually said to her in his life as an ordinary man, he said to her now as if that would help their plight. It just made her angry.
                “Why did you go off to fight, Peredur?” She no longer felt the need to hide her pain at being second-best after the adventure of war.
                He looked away from her. “I wanted to make a proper home. For you.”
                Tears dripped from her nose and chin. He held his arms out and she fell into them. It felt good to sob, Peredur caressing her hair, nuzzling her face.
                “I was visited upon the battlefield as I lay dying,” he said at last. “My curses brought him, Tanwen. I knew I’d never get a chance to do what we’re doing right now.” He could barely form the words. “So I cursed God.”
                She pushed back from his embrace. “What are you saying, Peredur?” An unbearable pit of dread formed in her chest.
                “I cursed Him as I lay dying,” he said. “I should have prayed and asked for forgiveness, but I didn’t.”
                “What do you mean?”
                “I am doomed.”
                “Doomed? What do you mean?” she asked, hearing the lunatic edge to her voice. “Tell me!” She let go of him, and the loss of him even for a moment took her breath away.
                He sat down heavily, seeming faint all of a sudden. “I live by drinking the living blood of people, Tanwen.” He bared his teeth, exposing two long fangs like wolf’s teeth.
                She couldn’t stop her gasp that seemed to pierce him. “I use them to get to the blood,” he said, a look of despair clouding his beautiful face. “I must feed soon. I must leave you or I will feed upon your family. And I won’t be able to stop myself.”

Copyright - Julia Phillips Smith - 2011

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A to Z Blog Challenge - S

Welcome to Day 19 of the  A to Z Blog Challenge. Today:


is for

Swan Lake

Anyone who knows me is aware of my ballet obsession.

Like many little girls, I took dance class which included tap and ballet, but the ballet part was always my favorite--we got to take on roles and tell a little story.

As I grew older, my reverence for all things ballet only increased. I continued to take ballet class but not in the serious dancer stream. My desire to tell stories, and to dip my feet in many different forms of creative expression, meant that I wasn't fated to become a professional dancer. That decision is made at such a young age by the people who pursue this art form.

As I attended film school in Toronto, I got the dreamiest job of my life so far--working as an usher at the O'Keefe Centre, which then became the Hummingbird Centre (and is now the Sony Centre.) I was able to indulge my ballet obsession for eight seasons of National Ballet of Canada performances. Yay, me!

When I moved back to the Maritimes, my professional dance company withdrawal was pretty hard to take. For awhile there, Empire Theatres--the cinema chain--offered special in-theatre broadcasts of ballets from companies around the world, which I never missed. But those stopped after a few years.

Aside from touring companies appearing in Halifax, my only ballet fix comes from You Tube. Thank God for all the ballet posted there. It stops my dance-lover soul from shriveling up into a dried-out husk and blowing away.

Which brings us to today's joyous post--last Thursday's performance of Swan Lake by Ballet Jorgen, and the community outreach program I attended at my local library branch on the Saturday before that.

Ballet Jorgen is one of those touring rays of sunlight that beams into my life like a heavenly smile. A Toronto-based company, they tour Canada intensively, bringing professional dance to communities that would not normally have access to this art form. 

Here company dancer Taylor Gill explains what sorts of things would be in a dancer's bag.

Sarah Koekkoek demonstrates the movements used in the swan's role during Swan Lake.

Gabriel Ritzmann and the other dancers giving the outreach program take the audience through the basics of ballet positions for arms and feet.

Sarah Koekkoek, Gabriel Ritzmann and Mallory Belzile take the participants through a section of choreography, to show how individual steps act like words to be joined together in choreography like sentences. 

The actual performance couldn't come quickly enough for me. It was like Christmas Eve--Swan Lake Eve! Yet finally there we were, heading through the doors at the Dalhousie Arts Centre in Halifax to settle into our seats to await the curtain.

My thanks to the company for all of their tireless outreach work, since I know that if I was still living in the smaller town of Yarmouth as I did for two years, I would be over the moon to have Ballet Jorgen at the library there, where they are scheduled to appear.

Here's a tiny taste of the wonderful performance we saw last Thursday.