"The Twelve Dancing Princesses" (also popularly known as "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes" or "The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces") is a German fairy tale originally published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 in Kinder- und Hausmärchen as tale number 133. The Brothers Grimm learned the tale from their friends the Haxthausens who had heard the tale in Münster. Other versions were known in Hesse and Paderborn.
In the traditional tale: the Twelve Dancing Princesses are sisters who share a single bedroom. Every night, their father, the king, securely locks their bedroom door, but in the morning, their dancing shoes are found to be worn through as if they had been dancing all night. The king, perplexed, asks his daughters to explain, but they refuse. The king then promises his kingdom and each daughter to any man who can discover the princesses' midnight secret within three days and three nights, but those who fail within the set time limit will be sentenced to death.
Several princes fail in the challenge, until an old soldier comes to the king's call. Whilst traveling through a wood the soldier had come upon an old woman, who gave him a enchanted cloak that he could use to observe the king's unaware daughters and tells him not to eat or drink anything given to him in the evening by any of the princesses and to pretend to be fast asleep until they leave.
The soldier is well received at the palace just as the others had been and indeed, in the evening, the eldest daughter comes to his chamber and offers him a cup of wine. The soldier, remembering the old woman's advice, secretly throws it away and begins to snore loudly as if asleep.
The twelve princesses, certain that the soldier is sleeping, dress themselves in fine dancing gowns and escape from their room by a trap door in the floor. The soldier, witnesses their ruse, quickly dons his magic cloak, and follows them. The trapdoor leads to a passageway which then leads them to three groves of trees; the first having leaves of silver, the second of gold, and the third of glittering diamonds. In close, invisible pursuit, the soldier breaks off a twig of each as evidence. They walk on until they come upon a great clear lake. Twelve boats, with twelve princes, appear where the twelve princesses are waiting. Each princess gets into one, and the soldier steps into the same boat with the twelfth and youngest princess. The youngest princess complains that the prince is not rowing fast enough, not knowing the soldier is in the boat. On the other side of the lake stands a castle, into which all the princesses go and dance the night away.
The twelve princesses happily dance all night until their shoes are worn through and they are obliged to leave. The strange adventure continues on the second and third nights, and everything happens just as before, except that on the third night the soldier carries away a golden cup as a token of where he has been. When it comes time for him to declare the princesses' secret, he goes before the king with the three branches and the golden cup, and tells the king about all he has seen. The princesses know that there is no use in denying the truth, and confess. The soldier chooses the first and eldest princess as his bride for he is not a very young man, and is made the King's heir.
Valley Academy of the Arts, under the artistic direction of Anne Marie Brunner-Abderholden will present an adaptation of the Twelve Dancing Princesses for ballet as part of their spring performance. The performance will be:
Friday, May 18, 2018
Jane Bergstrom Performing Arts Center
105 Zephyr Dr.
Neenah, WI 54956
Tickets are available at Valley Academy for the Arts during regular hours. Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $12.00 for students and seniors (60+)