It never hit me till I saw them back to back–The Wizard of Oz and The Nutcraker–that both of these pillars of the American holiday tradition have much to teach us about the power of little girls’ dreams.
Consider both performances: both center around the story of a mighty, courageous and beloved little girl whose imaginings into far-flung, fantasy destinations result in the most iconic, archetypal scenes that our collective culture has to offer.
To get into the holiday spirit, a group of friends and I decided to see the San Francisco Symphony play live to a tremendous screen showing The Wizard of Oz. How they were able to take out the music sounds but leave the sounds of characters speaking involves technologies way beyond my understanding.
And tonight, The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Ballet. Both audiences filled to the herringbone coutils with little girls in their most partiest, frilliest, flouncy dresses.
And what were we all celebrating, these mesmerized little girls and I? It turns out that we were paying homage to ourselves. Too often do we get bombarded with artistic performances stuck on the male journey, the yang quest. So many movies all about the guys, with women’s roles totally supporting the whims of their central cast husbands/brothers/fathers.
Not so, these timeless classics of which we speak. Not so at all. Within the powerful dreamscapes of our heroines, princes need help in battles, powerful wizards are unmasked, and every supporting male figure in their lives falls hopelessly in love with them under their momentous powers: Scarecrow, Tinman, Lion, Nutcracker, and Count Drosselmeyer.
And not because of their sex appeal! Not because of womenly wiles nor micro-mini and augmented bra size. These young girls are alluring only due to their steadfast hearts, courageous demeanors and adventurous souls.
I have always loved both stories so much, and now I understand why a bit better–Oz and Nutcracker are all about Divadom in its purest form. Both young women, Dorothy and Clara, are strong, lovely, and loving women whose extreme courage wins them loyal friends. Dorothy stands up to the wizard and the witch in order to win her freedom; Clara saves her Nutcracker prince from the Rat King wtih the fling of her shoe.
(We will explore the women and shoes archetype later–Cinderella and Clara center on these.)
Both of these little girls not only win hearts but vastly, significantly, epically change the histories of their imaginary (?) countries forever, immediately bequeathed all the largest, most titular roles these lands have to offer. They are LEADERS. They change the thrust of time and forever make their mark on the faraway, never-never lands that they dream up and visit.
But are these places mere fantasy? Or, as famed Czech philosopher Zizek might ask, is the sweet little girl in Kansas/the living room the dream of the all-powerful child rulers of Oz and the land of the Sugarplum Fairy?
These are all powerful thoughts that we women should dream about tonight. Just to see what happens and where they take us.
Let’s plan our own dreamscapes for ’08!
(And thank you Zarah, Bharat, Jason, Anna, Amy and friends for both planning and joining me on this epic journey!)