By Sean Meyer/London Community News
Megan Walker and Kate Wiggins have used protest marches and advertising campaigns as tools in their respective battles against domestic violence.
Early next year, the two women, and their respective organizations, are combining their efforts to bring something new to the battle — the national touring company of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre.
London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) and the London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse (LCCEWA) are presenting a one-night performance of Ghosts of Violence, Feb. 22, at the Paul Davenport Theatre at the University of Western Ontario. Ghosts of Violence is a ballet performance inspired by the lives of women who have lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner.
“It is a journey through the lives of four women. It tells an accurate story of the lives of women who live every single day with abuse in their homes,” said Walker, executive director of the LAWC. “It is very powerful, very moving, and I am absolutely thrilled it is coming to London.”
The Ghosts of Violence was developed in 2007 as a way to raise awareness of domestic homicide and its victims.
Kate Wiggins, LCCEWA chair, said ballet is an intense, and beautiful medium that can engage people in a way that is not necessarily intellectual, but touches their hearts.
“It is a great way to create a dialogue. We can throw statistics at people, we can put up our messages, we can explain which doors to open in order to seek advice, shelter or counselling ... but what really matters is the ability to engage the heart,” Wiggins said. “Many, many people are familiar with this issue in one way or another, so to create a different kind of context, a different medium for delivering that message, is absolutely brilliant.”
Walker said her experience watching Ghosts of Violence is one she will never forget. Walker had previously seen the show during its world premiere in Ottawa back in 2001.
Calling the performance powerful and moving, Walker said it also generated feelings ranging from hope to anger.
“I expected to be moved, but there were so many emotions. I felt joy in some parts, incredible sadness; I went through parts feeling anger,” Walker said. “But at the very end I was so very filled with hope and I just was filled with the thought that I can do more.”
And it is the performance’s ability to create such emotions that Walker said makes it ideal for generating discussion.
“I have always found the arts to be a very powerful tool in expressing what is going on in people’s lives,” Walker said. “The ballet, to me, is really powerful because it is not only the art of dance, but it is combined with music. That speaks to people; it gives them goosebumps.”
Wiggins, who has only seen clips of the performances on You Tube, said she is looking forward to the show for both personal and professional reasons. As a member of LCCEWA, a 35-member network of organizations, groups and individuals dedicated to ending woman abuse, Wiggins said she was thrilled when Walker came to her and asked for her help in hosting the performance.
“It highlights an issue that continues to be front and centre and that is the issue of violence against women. And it does that in a very dramatic way that promotes dialogue,” Wiggins said. “This is different; that was part of the thinking. Any way you can engage individuals to start a dialogue about the issue, or look at it in a different context, is very important. The show is so very striking. That’s the thing, like with theatre, it engages you in a different way.”
Ghosts of Violence takes place at the Paul Davenport Theatre on Feb. 22, 2012. Tickets are: $45(adult), $38 (senior), and $25 (student). Tickets can be purchased online at www.grandtheatre.com, by phone at 519-672-8800 or in person at the Grand Theatre box office, 471 Richmond St.