The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora : Evoking the colours, shapes and patterns of Africa in a reworking of Brothers Grimm

"... and everyone danced and danced all through the night."

Rachel Isadora began dancing at the age of six and went on to dance professionally in New York City.   Rachel also lived for ten years in Africa.   Both influences are clearly visible in the treatment she has given to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

The hot colours, the patterns in the fabrics and the landscape, the textures and the edgy shapes, all lend themselves so well to Isadora’s chosen medium of collage.   Collage is great – anyone can have a go and get instant and beautiful results.   What’s more, the materials for collage are all around us – finished-with newspapers, wallpaper samples, ends of wrapping paper rolls, sweet wrappers, bits of coloured or hand-made papers, coloured envelopes from junk mail, all ordinarily destined for the recycling bin.

"Soon the princesses reached a grove of trees with silver leaves. Then they came to one of gold leaves and one of diamond leaves. The soldier broke off a twig from each."

Every night the princesses go to sleep, locked away in their bedroom.  Every morning their shoes are completely worn through.  It’s as if they have been dancing all night long.  How can that be?   Their father, the King, offers the hand in marriage of one of the princesses to anyone who can solve this mystery.  Many try.  All fail.  Until, that is, a soldier, travelling on foot one day, meets an old woman who offers some very timely advice and the use of a magic cloak.  At last, the secret and a hidden-away, underground world is revealed.

We were enchanted by the idea of twelve princesses so we decided to make our own paper-chain of princesses and used the collage idea to give them clothing, hair accessories and shoes.   We taped two A4 pieces of plain paper together down their long sides and then folded them in a zig-zag fashion.  A simple princess outline was drawn, making sure that the arms reached to the edges of the paper.   The princesses were then cut out and decorated.


This entry was posted in Age 2-4, Age 4-6, Age 6-8, Age 8-10, Isadora, Rachel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora : Evoking the colours, shapes and patterns of Africa in a reworking of Brothers Grimm

  1. Zoe says:

    ahhh! Beautiful!

    The 12 dancing princesses is one of my favourite fairy stories (I have an edition illustrated by Kay Nielsen which I particularly treasure). This version looks gorgeous, and your princesses are a perfect match.

    And hooray! I’ve just checked – this version is in our library system :-)

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