Last night’s Alabama Dance Theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast at Troy University’s Davis Theater in Montgomery, Alabama helped me to realize why it is my favorite fairy tale. I relate to and value the numerous moral themes and life lessons to be gained from it.
As I highlighted this show in my last blog, great stories have existed for centuries around the world. Their venue or means of communicating them as well as the details can vary.
I’ve yet to ask Choreographer, Sara Sanford, which version she based her ballet on. I know it varies from Lang’s and Disney’s, but it highlights so many key lessons and takes such wonderful artist privilege to create a fantastic show!
In the first scene, Raul Peinado, the prince turned beast, portrays too well the selfish and indifference that some of privileged descent or in leadership position portray towards the sick, poor, and hurting in society. What makes the story a “fairy tale” is that the Enchantress gives him a rightful sentence to teach him to rule himself and his kingdom better. Too bad this doesn’t happen in real life, but that does not negate the importance of using this part of the story for instruction.
We parents and teachers ought to do better in identifying when our children act this way. It’s part of our base human nature to bully others who are less fortunate than ourselves especially because they may mirror a selfish indulgence that we do not want to admit. We push blame on the lowly as if they deserved their sad lot in life. Some might have made poor choices, but many have not. They were born into poverty and are struggling with no hope to get out of it.
The prince must face the ugliness of his heart and face daily in the mirror what he is like. He is a beast. He acts out in anger, but slowly accepts his due and learns to love through his relationship with Beauty.
The four flirts of The Huntsman, commonly known as Gaston, care only for the skin deep appearance. Even after being dropped by “Gaston”, one still chases after him. What foolish behavior! Yet so many take back “their man” or “their woman” or “their friend” time and time again after being treated poorly by them. This scene is great fodder to discuss with tweens and teens what is good and bad in any personal relationship.
What I love is that Beauty sets firm limits with the Beast. She does not tolerate his angry antics. It is only when he treats her with compassion, care, and concern that her heart is converted to trust him. More would do well if they followed this course. But too many follow the foolish direction of the flirts.
Beauty even sets limits with her father and insists on going back to the Beast. Emotional limit setting is something too few are taught. In Proverbs 4:23 the pinnacle of wise advise is to guard one’s heart.
A sick elderly parent certainly pulls on one’s heart strings. Beauty is forced to make a choice. It’s not a simple decision. Life rarely offers those. It’s a challenging balancing act. It’s not that she’s indifferent to her father, but she must be true to a higher calling, the truth of her word and acting on behalf of a friend’s life who is at risk.
Gaston further incites terrible misunderstanding of who the Beast is through fear in the townspeople. He seizes the opportunity to make himself look better by taking matters into his own hands. Too often this is what individuals do. They use ignorance and fear to manipulate others in order to boost a self-serving agenda.
Back to the Beast. He demonstrated trust that Beauty would return. He had finally learned to love.
So in closing, let us consider what lessons we will head. And thanks Ms. Kitty, the Alabama Dance Theater, all the dancers, parents, and supporters for a wonderful performance. Two more will occur today and tomorrow at 2:30 PM. Click Alabama Dance Theatre for tickets and enjoy the show!
March 2, 2019 by Hope Mucklow, Blogger and Author of
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