Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: Dancing, Fantasy, and Visual Art

This week, we're celebrating the upcoming premiere of Kat Howard, and Megan and Shannon Kurashige's dance A Thousand Natural Shocks, and to help us, this week's fine arts feature focuses on visual representations of dancing in fantasy stories or fairy tales.  We'll start off with William Blake's "Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing"--a piece that's especially appropriate, given that this piece shares a connection with Sharp and Fine's dance through Shakespeare. (Let us know in the comments if you know what it is without the help of Google!)

William Blake, "Oberon, Titania and Puck with Fairies Dancing," ca. 1785
What I think I like most about this painting is how the dancing fairies appear to be weightless.  And Puck, as is perhaps appropriate, seems to be dancing to the beat of his own drummer.

Of course, there are many other versions of fairy dances, perhaps the most famous of which is "The Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet.  Here it is, performed by Nina Kaptsova of the Bolshoi Ballet...

...and here is the animated version from Disney's Fantasia.
Of course, fairies are not the only fantastic creatures who dance.  Princesses dance, too, it would seem.  The story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, who wear out their shoes dancing each night in a magical wonderland, has always been one of my favorites.  Su Blackwell has a book sculpture of the story that is just wonderful.  Here is an illustration of the story from Louey Chisholm's The Enchanted Land: Tales Told Again:
Katherine Cameron, "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," 1909
I really like the almost furtive glance of the princess in the foreground, a glance that sees the viewer and asks her to please keep quiet so their fun won't be ruined.  If I can't go with the princesses to their magical dance, it's almost just as exciting to be their secret-keeper.

These illustrations of the story, done by Errol Le Cain, are also amazing.  This edition of the book unfortunately appears to be out of print, although Amazon does have a few used copies available.

What are your favorite fantastic dancers?  Let us know in the comments!