Ghosts of Violence Ballet Tells Stories of Violence Against Women

by | October 30, 2011
filed under Can-Con, Feminism

Ghosts of Violence Ballet 2011

A few years ago We Can BC formed, part of an international campaign to end violence against women. This year, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, WE Can BC is helping to bring the Ghosts of Violence ballet to Vancouver. I interviewed Project Coordinator Anastasia Gaisenok to ask about putting on this event.

Jarrah: How did this idea come about/how was the event put together?

Anastasia: The Ghosts of Violence Ballet was inspired by Silent Witness Project in New Brunswick, which is a travelling exhibit of red wooden silhouettes representing women murdered by their partners. The ballet was created to take this idea further to create a living legacy, and to serve as a catalyst for public dialogue and action. After a successful premiere in Ottawa in February of this year, the ballet is now on a national tour across Canada.

Jarrah: How does this event figure into the We Can BC Campaign?

Anastasia: One of the primary activities of the We Can campaign in BC is to organize public events to raise awareness and promote taking action on ending violence against women. We usually plan events around significant dates: 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence (Nov  25 – Dec 10), International Women’s Day (March 8) and Violence Prevention Week (third week of April). We were thrilled to be approached by the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada with a proposal for partnering on this extraordinary event in Vancouver – it offers a unique opportunity to engage the public on this serious issue through art. Moreover, the dates for BC fall within 16 Days, which makes it a perfect fit for what we usually do every year.

Jarrah: What can people expect to see at the event?

Anastasia: The ballet itself is a spectacular multimedia production. –It is quite stunning visually and choreographically. Music by Schnitke and Rachmaninoff adds a whole different dimension to the level of emotional intensity brought through dance and videography.  The story line follows couples from different socio-economic backgrounds dealing with domestic violence. I think it is quite unique in bringing such a difficult issue at the centre of the stage.

In addition to the performance itself, there will be a number of auxiliary events, or what we call a secondary program. We want to create an interactive experience for the audience, as well as to offer opportunities for dialogue and interaction. Each show will be followed by a dialogue with the creators of the ballet, as well as local community groups and organizations that work on addressing violence in our community. Other components will include a mini-Shoe Memorial in memory of all the women who died as the result of violence (full Memorial is staged each year at the Vancouver Art Gallery on December 6th by a local grassroots group); a photography exhibition and a multi-media installation by Vancouver youth; and displays from local organizations that work on this issue. Also, we are planning to hold several workshops prior to the show on Saturday so that activists, artists, and all those interested can share their knowledge on new and innovative ways of engaging for violence prevention.

Jarrah: Why did you get involved on this issue?

Anastasia: I personally did not choose this issue, it chose me through a social justice activism path. I got involved with the We Can campaign in its early days in British Columbia through one of the partner organizations. It started as a project, and became somewhat of a lifestyle. We Can was first launched in South Asia in 2004, but it quickly grew around the world, as unfortunately gender-based violence is the reality faced by women everywhere, including Canada. Once you are aware of this reality and start seeing what contributes to it and what can be changed, it becomes a part of your daily life. This is what being a Change Maker is all about – paying attention and challenging the attitudes, believes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women in our society.

Jarrah: What can people do to help the event and the We Can BC campaign?

Anastasia: We hope that people will come out to see the performance, and will also use it as the opportunity to educate their friends, family and colleagues about the issue. We are asking all our supporters to commit to selling 5 tickets through their social networks, and to consider sponsoring low-income members of the community who can’t afford the ticket. We Can supporters get a special discount through promo code WCBC. Tickets can be purchased online through or by calling 604-873-3311.

We also hope that this event will inspire people to take action, and they will become Change Makers as well. To learn more about the We Can campaign and to register as a Change Maker visit




by Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada

DEC. 1 – 3, 2011, 7:30PM

Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre

Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W Hasting St, Vancouver, BC

Presented by We Can End All Violence against Women BC Campaign

and SFU Woodward’s Cultural Program.





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