Tonight's must see is Ballet Under the Stars: Dochas and mixed repertoire performed by the Canadian Pacific Ballet. It is a fantastic sampling of artistic director Roberta Taylor’s choreography interwoven with a well chosen cross-section of classical works (La Bayadere, Swan Lake). In the shorter length pieces we see incredibly demanding classicism alongside some well set comedy, perfect for younger audiences. Dochas honours the people of Ireland in a celebration of Irish spirit that is both melancholic and filled with joy. It’s the ideal performance for seasoned audience members, who will appreciate watching a world class ballet company, and those new to ballet that would just like to see a bit of everything. It is extremely pleasant to spend a summer evening watching ballet outside, and in some cases the forces of nature can even enhance the production. In Dochas the women are dressed in lightweight linen skirts and wear their hair down in traditional Irish styles. The night I was there, almost on cue a warm breeze filled the square just as the more up-tempo portion of the piece began. It whipped through their skirts and hair and made it obvious to me that this kind of dancing is truly meant to be done outside. I felt my heart beat faster as the dancers took us all to a faraway place. It’s a very powerful piece. Dochas means “hope” or “justice” and Taylor’s choreography explores the concept beautifully. In one of the more moving sections of the piece, we see “Caroline” (performed by Ursula Szkolak) hoping for the return of a husband who isn’t coming home as she dances with her memories of him. Justice is interpreted by a blindfolded Ashley Evans in a dramatic demonstration of technique and balance. And it ends with an ensemble finale that screams of hope and of a culture’s refusal to crumble under the weight of their troubles.  I looked around at the visibly entertained faces in the audience as the performance ended. I thought, do they really know how lucky they are? We were presented here with selected works from some of the most famous ballets in history. Thousands of tears have been shed over these pieces. Thousands of throats have been screamed raw with their praise. Ballet aficionados wait years to see just one of these productions. Yet here, in Victoria, we can just stroll down to market square and see a handful of these works with some amazing local work thrown in as a bonus. And we can see it all expertly presented by a company whose mission is the performance and preservation of classical ballet. I for one feel very lucky indeed to have the CPB in my town. They are just one more reason why this city was recently rated one of the top cultural destinations in Canada. The second and third stages of this repertoire can be seen July 27 and 28.  Ballet Under the Stars runs Tuesday and Wednesday evenings in Market Square through August 25. For more information visit