Wonder Woman; Superheroes in Ballet

Here is what I think makes a fairy tale a fairy tale; how easy it is to define the good guys from bad guys.

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handsome boy on bridge= good! ugly troll underneath= bad!

handsome boy on bridge= good! ugly troll underneath= bad!

The good guys are handsome and beautiful, bad guys lock you in a tower, give you candy and try to eat you, or in general, try to curse/ kill you. And they are usually old and ugly. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were so easy to identify the good from the bad motives in real people? (Why oh why must some people do….what they do?)

A lot of the old ballets are like this too, the easily identified villans. The program spells it out; the evil Rat King, the jealous High Brahmin in La Bayadere...Actually, who IS the bad guy in Giselle? The meddlesome but well-intentioned Hilarion? Probably either the double-betrothed Albrecth or Queen of the Willies Mirtha.  I’m more likely to side with the vengeful alpha-female than a snivelling cheating wealthy brat…but that’s just me.

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beautiful Jamie, Stirling as Albrecht, and Kevin and I - BUtler, circa 2008

beautiful Jamie, Stirling as Albrecht, and Kevin and I – BUtler, circa 2008

One thing that I like about a lot of the classic ballet librettos is the prominence of strong female characters. I mean, have you ever thought about it? Giselle saves Albrecht in the end. Clara saves the Prince and is taken to a land where the ruler is a woman (Sugar Plum). It’s really the Lilac Fairy that saves Aurora- the Prince is just there as a kissing alarm clock. Wake up!

It’s funny that ballet is so often thought of a sissy activity because I can’t think of much that makes me feel more powerful than this lighter-than-air art form. It makes me think of how art is often thought of as ‘soft’ or ‘nice’ or ‘cute’ and the artists behind the creations thought of as wacko or dreamers or unpractical. Heroes come in all sexes, sizes, occupations, and variety of capes and tutus..I mean uniforms.

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If you could have a magical super power, what would it be? I have always wanted to be able to freeze time. If I was losing my balance, I would freeze time and unfreeze it once in a proper position. If I couldn’t think of a clever thing to say at a dinner party, I’d freeze time and wade through the swampland of bad jokes in my arsenal until I came to something wry and acceptable. I’d also reposition people in strange ways…like right in front of a banana peel or slippery floor. This is probably why I was never granted magical powers. Whoever hands those out must have known I’d use them for selfish and slap-stick purposes.I’m only human!

I can think of a few major players here in Missouri that I will nominate for the Missouri Arts Award. (Funny how EVERY SINGLE person quickly springing to my mind is a female) I have been fortunate with heroes in my life- from teachers to dancers to community leaders (and my Mom!)

"It's EXHAUSTING being this girl's idol!" my forever- favorite, the amazing Christy Corbitt Miller with Louisville Ballet Company

“It’s EXHAUSTING being this girl’s idol!” my forever- favorite, the amazing Christy Corbitt Miller with Louisville Ballet Company

Know an ARTS EDUCATOR, ARTS ORGANIZATION, CREATIVE COMMUNITy, ARTIST, LEADER, AND or PHILANTHROPIST that deserves recognition for their contributions? unmask them here! Don’t let the heroes be invisible.

It would probably be a lot easier if we just had a giant crown-wearing rat to battle. I think that artists mostly battle ignorance, stereotypes, being underappreciated. But great art innovators can also use their art to battle a great number of things, and more importantly, to fight for something.

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Keep up the good fight artists! xo- SortaSuper Jess

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