Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

From the Royal Box

Kristy and Shawn standing in the Royal Box at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts

I peered over the chest-high wall of the Royal Box, marveling at the intimate elegance of The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts spreading out around and below me, all dark wood and soft pot lighting. From this height, the audience looked like strings upon strings of multicoloured beads.

What a difference from the press box at BC Place. People tell me to this day that they would have given their right arm for such a coveted spot at the 2011 Grey Cup, especially since the BC Lions had won the trophy that year. At the time, I was a fledgling reporter for Accessible Media, surrounded by seasoned and stuffy sportscasters from the rival city. Not even the scrumptious buffet could make me like football.

Tonight, I was almost thrumming with anticipation.

Turning to my boyfriend, Shawn, who was sitting in the chair beside the one I had vacated, I said, "Feel the wall in front of us? It forms a U that goes all the way along the perimeter of the room. The stage is to the right of us, in the hollow of the U."

At least that's how it appeared to me. I have about 5 degrees of central vision in my right eye with a 20/60 acuity. I only have light perception in my left. This vantage point afforded me an excellent bird's eye view of the venue.

"Is the stage that bright thing?" Shawn, who only has light perception and sees some colour, gestured.

I turned my attention to the stage. "Yup. Looks like there's a huge rug on it – I want to say Persian because it's really thick – and what might be cushions or low couches in dark blue and red." I smiled self-consciously when I saw a volunteer looking at me. "I try to describe the setting to Shawn wherever we go," I explained, hoping I hadn't just offered a totally erroneous description.

The volunteer only smiled. "The stage is lovely. There are all these lavish bouquets on it."

An avid gardner, I wondered what types of flowers they were.

I took my seat.

"I wish they had described the setting to us during the reception," I said to Shawn. "I mean, I know the music is the focus of the concert but the venue is as much a part of the experience in a live performance." I elbowed him with a grin. "You snuck a feel of the sarod strings during the touch tour didn't you? Even though we were told not to."

"Of course." Shawn returned my grin. "Did you feel all those tuning pegs? It must take a long time to tune one of those things."


Technical details were Shawn's thing, not mine. During the exclusive pre-concert reception for audience members with sight loss, I'd enjoyed learning about the history and culture behind the music. I was in awe that the night's performers were seventh-generation descendants of the sarod's creators.

Something for every learning style, I thought, then gave myself a mental nudge.

Time to take off my ESL Instructor hat and enjoy the music.

It amazed me that the sarod could sound melancholy one minute – the weary tread of a desert traveler – and exaltant the next – the lively jaunt of a spice market in full swing. The notes soared to the rafters like helium balloons kept in check only by the earthy hoofbeats of the tabla drums.

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