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Critic's picks: Swan Lake, Shawn Desman; Victoria Choral Society

Arts writer Mike Devlin picks his favourite upcoming events, including Swan Lake at the Royal Theatre Friday and Saturday.
Ballet Victoria’s Swan Lake runs for two performances at the Royal Theatre this week BALLET VICTORIA


Where: Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton St.

When: Friday, May 17, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 18, 2 p.m.

Tickets: $18-$75 from the Royal McPherson box office (250-386-6121) or

Why: Ballet Victoria’s winning season comes to an end this week with Swan Lake, the iconic Tchaikovsky offering featuring black swans, white swans, princesses, barons and a queen. The company (led by artistic/executive director Paul Destrooper) has seen big-time success in 2023-24, thanks to productions of Ballet Rocks, The Gift of the Nutcracker, and Dracula. But the best is being saved for the finale as Swan Lake is must-see entertainment. A word of warning: With just two performances on tap, so demand for tickets will be high. Don’t delay.


Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates St.

When: Wednesday, May 22, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $55.06 from

Why: The pop world in 2024 is light years removed from the one dominated by Katy Perry and Rihanna in 2012, which is the last time pop singer/dancer Shawn Desman performed locally. Fear not, Desman fans: Though the Mississauga native has only released three singles since 2015, the throwback-heavy state of concerts in Victoria has him poised to do big numbers on Wednesday. The five-time Juno Award nominee — whose hit, Shook, has aged remarkably well — was always a good sport about his status a fleet-footed pop star, so expect smooth moves and knowing laughs in equal supply next week.


Where: Farquhar Auditorium, University of Victoria

When: Sunday, May 19, 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: $35 ($10 for students/income accessible attendees) from UVic Ticket Centre (250-721-8480) or

Why: That these performances of The Houses Stand Not Far Apart (by John Estacio) and Golden Harvest (by Larysa Kuzmenko) take place at the exceptional-sounding Farquhar Auditorium only adds to the anticipation of this Victoria Choral Society event. Under the direction of Brian Wismath, with accompaniment from members of the Victoria Symphony, the choir will tackle Estacio’s cantata in four movements and Kuzmenko’s oratorio for large choir and orchestra with support from soloists Betty Waynne Allison (soprano) and Nathan McDonald (baritone), setting this stage for a wonderful afternoon of music.

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