My trip did involve some fairy tale-related things-most exciting for me was being able to read the Villeneuve version of Beauty and the Beast, in French, at the Library of Congress! (And yes, I realize how nerdy I am for saying that! Not that that's any surprise to anyone reading this blog...) I had come across discrepancies in English translations that I've blogged about before and wanted to find out what Villeneuve really said. More on that later-I was actually surprised at what I found-but do any of you readers know French well enough to translate parts of it for me? Let me know in the comments if you're willing to help out! I know enough to find which part of the story I was in and scan certain pages, but going from here my current plan is to use an online translator which is obviously not the most reliable.
But I also got to see the Washington Ballet do Cinderella!
One thing that really surprised me in the ballet version is that they took out the stepmother and replaced her with a weak father character. I didn't like it-it really did nothing to improve gender stereotypes. The father is usually absent from the plot, implying he is weak or uncaring, in most versions of Cinderella, yet he is never given blame for allowing his second wife or stepdaughters to terrorize his own flesh and blood. Yet here you feel even less sympathy for either Cinderella or her father, because with two against two there's no reason they should allow themselves to be bullied around for so long.
After very briefly skimming through Surlalune's Cinderella Tales from Around the World (brief skimming is all I could do at the moment from a book that is almost 800 pages of text!) I did find that in some versions of the story, the father is present and more evil, but I believe it's very rare to have that particular cast of characters (no stepmother, weak but good father, stepsisters, and heroine) in any version but the ballet.
But other than that, I LOVED it. I love Prokofiev's music and classical ballet. The dancers who played the stepsisters (who are male) on the night I saw it were very funny-it would be a good ballet for someone who doesn't have much experience in classical dance, because it's light and humorous and the plot is pretty familiar, with the additions of some extra fairies to highlight more of the soloists.