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The Night Dances: Front Cover
About “The Night Dances”
The Night Dances is my second “pandemic book.” It is mostly fun — a tale of escape — though with a dark undercurrent. It owes it existence to the preceding book, “Eurydice,” which suggested the approach to this one —the use of mixed media collage.
The lasting appeal of this tale lies in its flirtation with the forbidden — the secret forays into the Underworld , which is a far more glamorous and festive place than the “real” world , where their father locks the princesses in their room each night, to keep them out of trouble and hires a spy to discover where it is they go to wear out their dancing shoes.
Of the twelve princesses in the original tale, only two of them come to the foreground —- the eldest, who leads the others on their nightly escapades— and the youngest, whose suspicions are aroused by the soldier who follows them. The other ten sisters have no identity at all. I chose to give each of them her own page, and to make tham all different, as though they might be half-sisters — which seemed entirely possible. My version is less a retelling of the original fairy tale than a riff –– a spirited reminiscence by the princesses about their long-ago adventure.
Although this is a story about repression and subversion, there is much in it to delight the imagination , including an opportunity to represent twelve individual young women in their finery. I decided to retell the story in the second person plural —the collective “we” of the princesses, and, surprising myself, to end it on an upbeat note.