Mirror mirror on the Gram: Snow White in 2016


Preljocaj’s retelling of Snow White has earned critical acclaim for its choreography and visual aesthetic. Photo: Liz Calligeros

The most recent adaption of the timeless Snow White opens in Brisbane today, but forget the white skinned princess with her seven dwarfs and prepare for a unique twist.

The Ballet Preljocaj’s adaption explores the ideas of vanity and narcissism in the fairy tale which – despite being over 200 years old – can relate to society in a contemporary setting.

Snow White’s Evil Queen has suffered a few centuries of bad press, all rooted in her desire to be the fairest of them all.

While it was once not uncommon for those charmed by their own looks to be punished, we now relate this fascination to self-acceptance and “positive body-image”.

For the crime of vanity, the Evil Queen is put to death in a pair of burning shoes. For perspective, Kim Kardashian published her book Selfish in 2015, which consists of a collection of self-portraits that is in its fifth round of printing and is celebrated worldwide.

We seem to either punish or reward those who deem obsessed with their own image.

QPAC Tunnel: A contemporary reflection of the fascination with vanity from a tale which is more than 200 years old. Photo: Liz Calligeros

Commentator Helen Razer links the fairy tale to contemporary society, claiming there is little difference in our perceptions of self.

“Like most people with a smartphone, I have taken and published selfies,” she said.

“I didn’t do it ‘just for me’. I didn’t do it to ’empower’ myself beyond a state of amour-propre. I did it, as everyone does, for attention and to see myself as others do.”

The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) Tunnel has been transformed for the month of August in the attempt to explore the changing ideas and representations of beauty with quotes from Audrey Hepburn to Socrates.

QPAC Tunnel: A contemporary reflection of the fascination with vanity from a tale which is more than 200 years old. Photo: Liz Calligeros

With a moment of reflection, you may realise that we are not all so different from the Evil Queen herself. Most of us will not dispute the idea that we have – at some point – had a desire to look a certain way; this lust has existed for centuries.

“Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford” – Cindy Crawford (a feature in the tunnel)

Ideas of good and evil, charming princes and passive princesses, darkness, magic and betrayal have always been demonstrated in fairy tales. These tales, including Snow White, have been read and reinterpreted for centuries.

Angelin Preljocaj is an award winning French choreographer and the founder of Ballet Preljocaj and is very passionate about the timing for this performance.

“I chose this fairy tale because I was thinking that Snow White is very modern, very actual. I think this is the moment of Snow White,” he told QPAC.

“Because [of] the progress of science, of medicine, of a lot of diets, the food. We become older but with better health.”

It is set to be a spectacular show with international and local performers and captivating costumes by the highly acclaimed designer, Jean Paul Gaultier.

Snow White will run from September 2 to September 11 at the Lyric Theatre at QPAC.

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