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seattle, washington

Crankies, Graphic Design, and Music by Seattle-cased artist Dejah Leger and Theatre Leger.



C'est la poulette grise

An original papercut crankie tells the story of La Chasse-galerie, a French-Canadian folk tale. Music by La Famille Leger from their self-titled album, plus a cut from a live session. (Tunes: Reel de la petite misère/Reel des siamois; Reel de l'Indien; Moccasin Shuffle).

Original papercut artwork is placed onto a paper scroll which is then cranked through an open-sided box with dowels. Musician and artist Dejah Leger sings a traditional ballad. (Filmed by Richard Twomey in Seattle, WA).



A Crankie is an art form that dates back centuries and across many countries and cultures.  It's gone by many names, but the word "Crankie" comes from the action of cranking the handles on either side of the box to scroll the screen.  It's also been called "shadow theater," or "moving panorama."  While Crankies hit the height of their popularity in western countries in the 19th & early 20th centuries through Vaudeville and other traveling shows, they are seeing a renaissance in many pockets throughout North America and beyond.


(Photo by Doug Plummer)

(Photo by Doug Plummer)

My Crankies are hand-drawn illustrations which are then cut with an Xacto knife.  I set all of my Crankies to song/music, and that music tends to be in either French or English.  I draw on my deep love of and connections to Québécois and Acadian traditional music, as well as traditional Americana ballads, and make each Crankie tell the story of that particular song.  I first began making Crankies when I was asked to play a bilingual children's show in Maillardville, Canada.  Knowing that a visual approach to helping kids engage in both traditional songs and languages would be the most powerful, I created several Crankies in a mad rush of insanity just two weeks before the festival.  The Crankies were a hit with both anglophone and francophone kids (and adults!) and I have continued to create Crankies to appeal to both audiences. 

My father-in-law and Crankie assistant extraordinaire, Louis Leger, is an Acadian born in Moncton, New Brunswick, and his first language is French.  Not only is he a fantastic musician (we play together in a group called La Famille Leger) but he was an elementary school teacher for many years.  His enthusiasm for music, language, and teaching permeates the Crankie performances.  He also built the Crankie box itself out of an old bookshelf.  He's very handy that way.


Entre l’éveil et le sommeil, là où le calme règne et la vie ralentit quelques minutes, se trouve un univers magnifique dans lequel Dejah Léger évolue. Elle y donne vie à des chansons et à des histoires du répertoire canadien-français traditionnel, à l’aide d’un instrument folklorique unique où des images découpées à la main s’affichent sur un écran de papier qui se déroule à mesure qu’on actionne la manivelle. Dans l’atmosphère feutrée rappelant celle d’un salon d’autrefois pendant l’hiver, venez vous émerveiller de la beauté d’un art traditionnel, qui vous fera oublier la technologie moderne. Tout comme son beau-père Louis Léger qui l’accompagnera, Dejah joue de plusieurs instruments. Louis vient du Nouveau-Brunswick et a été musicien toute sa vie. 

I hope you enjoy peeking through some videos and if you have any questions or booking inquiries, please don't hesitate to drop me a line!