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December 4th, 2008

Shoe Fairy Tales: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Deception is not invisible. It invariably leaves traces of evidence that will eventually be found out. On the other end of the spectrum, controlling situations can make treachery seem like the only path to freedom. Both of these morals can be gleaned from today’s Shoe Fairy Tale, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

“The Twelve Princesses” opens with a riddle: the kingdom’s twelve princesses are locked in their bedroom every night, yet morning’s light finds their shoes falling apart as if they were dancing them to pieces every night. (Not such a mystery for anyone who’s ever heeded the call of the open bedroom window.) The king offers his kingdom and a daughter to anyone who can solve this puzzle.

Apparently unaware of the anti-feminist implications of the king’s prize, or perhaps just foolish enough to think that ratting out the daughters will ever earn him their love, a soldier uses an invisibility cape to trace the daughters out a trap door, through groves of gold-, silver-, and diamond-laden trees, across a pond, and into a huge castle where they dance until their shoes are kaput. After three nights of trailing the princesses, the soldier reports to the king and chooses the eldest princess as his reward.

What shoes would today’s princesses choose for nocturnal dancing sprees? For ballroom dreams of tangos and cha-chas, the Always a Sight, shown at right, is a splendid shoe. With a sturdy,wide base, a tapered two-inch heel, and excellent arch support, these shoes will let you do the Hustle all night long. With that kind of stamina, you may just be able to dance into the arms of your own prince charming.

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