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Review: Fierce Fairytales puts a colourful twist on some favourite stories

There is a reason fairytales have proved to be popular and enduring. At the heart of them are fundamental truths about the human condition. The characters and stories are morality tales dealing with love, heartache, treachery, bravery, and redemption. Many of the tales we connect to have root stories that go back hundreds if not thousands of years to the very first human societies.

In Fierce Fairytales, New Zealand-based dance school and troupe Aaja Nachle takes three well-known ‘European’ stories and turns them into powerful dance pieces aimed at empowering young women. The three stories are Two Misunderstood Step-Sisters (based on Cinderella), An Older Wiser Little Mermaid Speaks (The Little Mermaid), and Of Kings and Queens (Snow White).

The production is online due to covid restrictions, and while I would have loved to have seen it in a theatre, this colourful and clever production is definitely worth watching.

A narrator states very clearly from the beginning, that the fairytales told to ‘our daughters’ should be about strong women with real flaws and incredible qualities.

Filmed in a studio with subdued lighting, lively music, gorgeous costumes, and a cast of nimble and charming dancers, this production is beautiful.

The dance style is called Bharatanatyam and is traditional to southern India, and has a history that goes back a very long time. What I liked about the choreography is that the troupe seemed to be having fun with it, and perhaps playing and experimenting so it felt very ‘now,’ without being disrespectful to tradition.

All three pieces were very good, but ‘Little Mermaid’ moved me the most. The opening voice-over said of girls and women “we are taught not to speak, and if we do, be kind, soft, passive, sorry…” As this piece progressed, the dancing and music became more exuberant, the dancer’s expressions more intense and, perhaps, flirtatious. The entire piece grew in power and emotion and left me with goosebumps. It superbly evoked a sense of joy that comes with emancipation and confidence.

What a great message to send out to the world.

FIERCE FAIRYTALES is available to watch online in New Zealand and Australia until the 27th March 2022. Click here for more information and access.


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