Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dancing Ghosts and Haunted Shoes in Fairy Tales (+ The Most Adorable Little Short!)

A little ghost Singin' in the Rain (fan art) by Cellsai
Are there ghosts in fairy tales?

The answer isn't as straightforward as you might think. The dead - and symbols of someone dead (especially beloved dead) are fairly common in fairy tales (eg the help Cinderella receives from birds in the Grimm version are symbolic of her mother watching over her) but actual ghosts, not so much. Unless you're talking Irish fairy tales. Or Japanese. But then these are more often "spirits" than the ghost of someone people/the characters knew passed on.

There is a whole category of folktale categorized as The Grateful Dead (and Heidi of SurLaLune is busy working on a collection of these! I can't wait!) but usually these aren't classic ghost stories in the usual sense either.
Enchanted - or haunted - objects appear every so often as well but not usually in the modern sense of the word haunted. I often wonder, though, what on earth happened to those red shoes, once they were cut off Karen's feet? Did they continue dancing through the ages? Did they change form and haunt other people who had to dance or they felt they would die?

OK, I admit it. I don't have a well researched and deep article on this topic for you. It's really an excuse to bring you this completely delightful little animation I saw for the first time today. It will at first puzzle you, then make you smile wider and wider the longer you watch. Full disclosure: I had to watch it over again immediately when I first saw it, so consider yourself warned. ;)

Lovers of musicals, prepare to fall in love again:
Seeing a short like the one above makes me wonder: what if one of the Twelve Dancing Princesses was caught in that limbo or underworld land because she loved dancing so much and was doomed to wander and dance alone for the rest of her days? What if that princess found her way to the abandoned stage of a musical?

Or, what if the spirit of Karen (the girl from The Red Shoes by HCA) was forced to walk, er float, upon the earth (considering her feet were cut off). I would think that perhaps the saddest thing for her would be not necessarily that she was dead, but that she couldn't dance. And what if she found some shoes that continued to dance by themselves, long after their owners stopped? What would her response be?
I should go look up that Ferragamo exhibit o shoes again (The Amazing Shoemaker - Fairy Tales and Legends About Shoes and Shoemakers), which JUST GOT EXTENDED THROUGH TO MAY 18, 2014! No doubt the topic of ghosts or shoe haunting will be addressed there in some form...

{Aaaand this is how my hooked-on-fairy-tales brain works, much of the day... be glad you don't live inside my head. }

As always, feel free to add your own crazy thoughts and/or studied insights in the comments below. The whole topic is pretty fascinating and I'm sort of surprised there isn't more literature available on it regarding fairy tales in particular. Folktales however, I'll bet some of you have entire shelves just devoted to those, and we'd love to hear about it.

Now, I'm going to go watch the short again...

Note: I'm sorry I don't have much information on the animator. All I know is that they're Japanese and I can't access the websites they appear on without an account. Your best shot is to go to the Vimeo address and leave a message, or follow up via that way. Good luck!

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