Posts Tagged ‘princess’


Although I’ve always been a fan of Dickens, his abjectly self-sacrificing women could get pretty cringe-worthy at times. Which is why I wondered how the character of Madeline would be handled in the Royal Shakespeare Company dramatization of Nicholas Nickleby back in 1980.

Madeline is at the altar with a miserable old codger she is about to marry to save her invalid father from penury when her father’s remorse causes a fatal heart attack. Saved by the bell.

But what would a 20th century audience make of Madeline?

Interestingly, the actor played Madeline as a mild but strong woman who was not being forced to a desperate act by anything but her love for her father and her sense of herself and her values. She immediately stepped away when the dreadful choice was no longer necessary.

Hmm. It’s hard to describe. But I was really impressed by the actor’s ability to convey a more modern woman without changing any of the words in the Victorian novel.

Meanwhile, at this year’s Women’s March, a group of 13-year-old girls transformed the typically self-abjugating Disney princesses into 21st century feminists. That caught the attention of BuzzFeed reporter Brianna Sacks and ultimately Teen Vogue.

De Elizabeth at Teen Vogue wrote, “Huge crowds gathered in cities all over the world [January 20] for the second annual Women’s March, and among the masses of people were plenty of colorful signs and creative outfit choices.

“One group of 13-year-old girls at the Los Angeles march took their posters and their wardrobe to the next level with a Disney princess theme.

“BuzzFeed News reporter Brianna Sacks shared photos of the Disney crew on Twitter, writing: ‘These 13-year-olds took “damsels in distress” and turned it around.’

“In the pictures, you can see the six girls dressed as various princesses — including Aurora and Belle — and carrying signs with powerful messages related to the classic fairy tales.

” ‘Bright young women, sick of swimmin’,’ one sign read, in an homage to The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel. ‘I will not let it go’ was the slogan of the girl dressed as Elsa from Frozen, while Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell carried a poster saying, ‘Pixie dust won’t fix this.’

“When Sacks asked the girls why they chose to dress as these iconic characters, [Ava/Sleeping Beauty] replied: ‘We’re sick of being seen as princesses, so we made our own take on it.’ ”

I am not surprised to see Teen Vogue pick this up: the magazine has become quite a cultural phenomenon in the last year, speaking truth to power. Check out its impressive array of topics, here.

PS. Kevin’s daughter is the lovely, new-world mermaid.

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Photo: Snowiology
Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, half-sister of Cambodia’s King, has worked hard to reenergize the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, seen here at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.

Cambodia went through dark years under Pol Pot, when like thousands of citizens, the arts were exterminated. Now a member of the royal family is putting her heart and soul into reviving the ballet. (“Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, i.e. the King reigns but does not rule,” Wikipedia explains.)

In the process, Princess Norodom Buppha Devi is reliving memories of her own time in the Royal Ballet.

For Post Magazine, Kate Whitehead interviewed both the princess and the dancer pictured above.

“Chap Chamroeuntola is alone on stage. Dressed in a long pleated skirt and tight-fitting tunic, the 29-year-old stands on her left leg, eyes downcast. Her right foot is flexed, the sole facing the ceiling, and her wrists and ankles are strung with gold bangles. Despite the challenging pose and a towering gilt headdress, she is completely still. As the music rises to a crescendo she remains motion­less. Then her eyes, heavily ringed in kohl, dart up and she looks directly at the 74-year-old woman wrapped in a pink shawl sitting in the third row.

“Princess Norodom Buppha Devi, half-sister of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, does not take her eyes off the dancer. No one in the packed Studio Theatre does. Slowly, Chap Chamroeuntola lowers her leg and turns, her arms held high, her fingers flexed against the joints. She moves as if in a trance and when six dancers join her on stage they, too, move as though under a spell. [Thus the] Royal Ballet of Cambodia made its Hong Kong debut. …

“Chap Chamroeuntola disliked the early years of her training and the hour each morning spent bending her fingers back into the hyperextended position that is typical of classical Cambodian ballet. …

“It takes nine years to learn the movements and the dances, she says. During that time she studied the history of classical ballet and fell in love with the art.

“ ‘The more I learned about the history, the more I got into it,’ she says. ‘I want to keep doing this to help my country, I will do everything I can to protect the classical dance.’

“If the dancers’ costumes and poses seem familiar to those who have not seen a performance by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, the stone carvings at Angkor Wat might be the reason why. Its bas-reliefs show apsaras – celestial dancers – in all their gilded finery, dancing for the gods. And it’s at the ancient temple complex that the Royal Ballet of Cambodia originated – dance, drama and music performed as ritual offerings for the gods. …

“This explains why Chap Chamroeuntola and the other dancers appear to move in a trance-like state; they are praying. …

“ ‘I started dancing when I was five,’ says the princess, speaking through an interpreter. ‘My grandmother, Queen Kossamak, trained me. She was a very good choreographer. When I was six I joined the ballet.’ …

” ‘Everything was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, it was the hardest time for us,’ says the princess, who serves as choreo­grapher, teacher and mentor for the dancers of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. …

“ ‘When there was peace, I went looking for the dancers,’ says the princess. ‘Many of them had gone [into exile] in Thailand and came back. I found some and we made a troupe and I set up a school.’ ” More at the Post Magazine, here.

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Our 5-year-old grandson’s friend had been planning to attend an American Repertory Theater musical with her grandmother today at 10 a.m. We decided to go, too.

The show was The Pirate Princess and was loosely (very loosely) based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It was a hoot for me, and the young man in the photo seemed riveted. But whether he could make head or tail of the  convoluted plot, I have my doubts. It will be interesting to see down the road what he remembers — and whether he wants to see more plays.

The plot involves a brother and sister who get separated in a shipwreck (in this case, it’s thanks to a monster called the Kraken) and have separate adventures with characters who later mistake the sister dressed as a boy for the boy and vice versa. (I kept whispering in my grandson’s ear, “The pirate thinks he’s the girl that he thinks is a boy”; “The Queen thinks he’s his sister but doesn’t know his sister is a girl.” My grandson didn’t respond.)

There were songs, musical instruments, fancy costumes, pirates storming up lighted platforms in the middle of the audience, sword fights, and imaginative special effects. I especially like the jellyfish created by glowing umbrellas with streamers, carried along the aisles in the dark. The Kraken with his many legs was pretty great, too.

After the show, we had hot chocolate and cookies at the Darwin on Mt. Auburn Street. I’m not sure what our grandson will be able to tell his parents about the madcap entertainment he witnessed, but bits and pieces will likely emerge over time. I myself saw Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland when I was four, but I didn’t become a theater nut until I was 10.


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