Last night I went to the theatre to see a ballet, which I have to say made me feel very sophisticated! It was a gorgeously dark and pretty performance of Rapunzel by BalletLORENT, which is one of the best retellings I have come across.
When I saw that a production of ‘Rapunzel’ (only my favourite fairy tale EVER!) was coming to my local theatre, there was no way I was going to miss it. Added in the fact that it was a ballet and the scenario was written by Carol Ann Duffy made me even more intrigued, and it did not disappoint.
The image of the lonely girl in the tower has something poignant about it, which I think everyone can relate to on some level. Haven’t we all looked out of a window at some point, just thinking, daydreaming, making silent wishes? Seeing this in dance form took away none of that feeling. Rapunzel’s frustration at being trapped in the tower and her desire for freedom were tangible, and the witch’s want of a child was evident from her edgy, anxious movements. The dramatic, full skirted dresses and delicate black-and-gold stage set perfectly enhanced the magic of the story.
As for the writing, of course Carol Ann Duffy did the story justice. The program came with a little booklet containing the retelling she wrote for BalletLORENT. Her prose is brisk yet charming, and provides a good backdrop for the dancing. In all the versions I have read, little (if any) attention is paid to Rapunzel’s parents after their daughter is taken by the witch. But Duffy’s version allows them to convey their suffering in a unique way: by having them write stories about their lost child. So, did Rapunzel really end up being rescued by a prince and living happily ever after? Or is that just what her grieving parents imagined happening to help them cope with their misery?
Either way you decide, BalletLORENT and Carol Ann Duffy have created a beautiful performance which brings this classic fairy tale to life like never before. It reminded me that there are other ways to enjoy fairy tales than just reading them, and seeing Rapunzel on the stage was escapism of the purest kind.
For a little taster, here’s the promotional video for the show:
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Amelia Starling is a writer and folklorist. She graduated from the University of Winchester with a degree in Creative Writing, and is a content editor for Folklore Thursday
. She loves travelling and collecting stories, and spent 15 months living in Japan doing this alongside teaching English. Amelia blogs about folklore and fairy tales at The Willow Web
. You can follow her on Twitter @amyelize