For years I have been a subscriber to The Australian Ballet Company’s annual series of ballets. My favourites are what are now called ‘the story ballets’ – Nutcracker, Coppelia, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty, amongst others. In the past I have adored this romantic tale of the prince waking his sleeping princess with a kiss.
I knew the old tale actually involved him getting her pregnant and her waking at the birth of her twins, but the ballet was so deeply inculcated into my psyche that the implications concerning consent never actually registered till I read Jim C Hines’ Stepsister series. The reality of so many of the favourite fairy stories were so different when seen from the victim’s (i.e. princess’s) view point.
To be fair, the liner notes in the program do point out that the original tale dealt with rape and cannibalism and infidelity (the Prince is already married), but the Australian Ballet’s version is an even cleaner version of the cleaned up version which the Grimm Brothers published. (And who reads liner notes anyway?) This version was a celebration of all things Royal designed as a gift to the then Tsar. The familiar Disney version has sprung from this version.
Brilliantly danced, beautifully choreographed, and splendidly costumed and staged, along with Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score, this is a real treat. The Australian Ballet Company never fails to delight.
But why, oh why, couldn’t I get Jim C Hines’ cry of ‘rape’ out of my head!