Snow White in Early 21 st c. Dance Performances: Subverting Fairy-tale Female ModelsCharitini Tsıkoura
Fairy-tales are usually initiatory stories, serving as auxiliaries when crossing important stages in life or as foundation for moral reflection. Some convey images which are upsetting even disturbing for the modern era with regard to the status of women. This is even more evident today since that status has improved over time, evolving from a situation of dominance to a progressive conquest of women’s freedom and rights. In the light of this, fairy-tales can be a testimony of past times while their adaptations in the 21st century can be evidence of occurring changes. Writing in 1958, modern dance pioneer, and choreographer Doris Humphrey in The Art of Making Dances compares dance to Sleeping Beauty pointing out that, like Aurora, it needs to wake up, renounce the role of the delicate princess and present to the world its independent, passionate nature. Seemingly following her advice, contemporary choreographers stage fairy-tales subverting female roles that have become role models for generations of girls (and boys). Through four choreographic adaptations of brothers Grimm’s fairy-tale Snow White by Angelin Preljocaj, Laura Scozzi, Liv Lorent and hip-hop crew Addict Initiative, this article studies the modernisation of archetypical female figures in the tale under the prism of intersectional feminism and gender: princess, mother, villain and (as it happens) mirror. It aims at examining each choreographers’ approach; evaluating staging and narrative choices through a specific lens while avoiding reductionism; pinpointing the stereotypes and received ideas and denouncing how dance and/or the performing body serves as means or opportunity for a discourse on hegemonic conceptions of sexuality, femininity and gender.