According to legend, there’s a wild man who kidnaps children from a village after dark, never to be seen again. And he’s the subject of a brand new work presented by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.  

T’əl is something that is familiar to many different cultures and many different peoples but specifically to the West Coast,” says RWB Choreographer in Residence Cameron Fraser-Monroe.  



Pronounced “tall,” the character is one who features in a children’s story passed down over generations by the Tla’amin First Nation, of which Fraser-Monroe is a member.  

“I did hear this story growing up,” recounts Fraser-Monroe, though the version was a little different.  

T’əl was a woman,” he says, but she shared many similar sinister character traits. “She had a basket of snakes on her back, she kidnaps children, (and) she roasts them over the fire.” 

The story not only provides rich fodder for the dancer-turned-choreographer, but it also helps share and preserve culture and language.  

In addition to the RWB Company dancing his choreography, the work features the voice of Elder Elsie Paul, a keeper of T’əl’s story, who narrates in both Ayajuthem, the language of the Tla’amin Nation, and English.  

Juno-nominated two-spirit composer Cris Derksen provides the striking score, and joins the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra live in the pit under the direction of maestro Julian Pellicano.  

“To have (this) story from my culture, from my people, shared with a wider audience and shared in a really good way with many incredible Indigenous collaborators, just makes me well up,” says Fraser-Monroe.  

T’əl: The Wild Man of the Woods with Carmina Burana runs from Thursday, April 25 through Sunday, April 28.  

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