In Dancing the Fairy Tale, Laura Katz Rizzo claims that The Sleeping Beauty is both a metaphor for ballet itself, and a powerful case study for examining ballet and its production and performance. Using Marius Petipa and Pyotr Tchaikovsky's classical dance--specifically as it was staged in Philadelphia over nearly 70 years--Katz Rizzo looks at the gendered nature of women staging, coaching, and reanimating this magnificent ballet, and well as the ongoing push-pull between tradition and innovation within the art form.
Using extensive archival research, dance analysis, and American feminist theory, Dancing the Fairy Tale places women at the center of a historical narrative to reveal how the production and performance of The Sleeping Beauty in the years between 1937 and 2002 made significant contributions to the development and establishment of an American classical ballet. Katz Rizzo highlights not only what women have done not only behind the scenes, as administrators, producers, or directors of ballet companies and schools, but also as active interpreters embodying the ballet's title role.
In the process, Katz Rizzo also emphasizes the importance of regional sites outside of locations traditionally understood as central to the development of ballet in the United States.
The dictionary. The ubiquitous high-gloss fashion ad. The fraught relationship between artist and critic. Sleeping Beauty ties these disparate strands of our everyday lives together only to strip away everything we thought we knew about each of them. A collaborative work by the artist John Sparagana and the critic Mieke Bal, this truly cutting-edge work takes the shape of a conversation between his creations—distressed, or “fatigued,” magazine pages—and her words, imagining anew the relationships of image to text and of art to those who write about it.
Bal contributes twenty-six essays, one for each letter of the alphabet, which borrow their organizing principle from the dictionary but reach far beyond the utilitarian purpose of a reference volume. Each one enters deeply into Sparagana’s work, illuminating concepts from Abstract to Zestful that inform, underlie, and lend meaning to the exquisitely ruined images he creates by crinkling glossy images from fashion magazines until their sheen disappears and they become soft and elastic. Unmooring the magazine page from its familiar context, these beautiful rags are rendered poetic by Sparagana’s unique art of subtraction, which physically rubs away not only ink and material, but also transience and commercial usefulness.
Just as Sparagana’s work intervenes in existing images, so, too, do Bal’s explorations qualify existing concepts. But together, in this inaugural volume in the new series Project Tango: Artists and Writers Together, they have given rise to something wholly new: a prophetic one-artist dictionary that simultaneously reenvisions the untapped interactions of images with words and the potential forms of the book itself.