RED SHOES came to birth one January night. I was dreaming before
the fire. In the midst of the flame, an old scene arose. A small
girl with a terrible sore throat lying in bed, unable to sleep.
A beloved older sister sitting beside her. In her hand, a book.
The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. The sister asked if
the sick girl wanted to hear a story. She shook her weary head.
The older sister read some titles. At The Red Shoes, the little
girl clapped since she couldn’t speak. She had no idea what
the story was about, but she was captivated by the image of the
red shoes, the crimson shoes, the vermilion shoes, the scarlet shoes.
Her sister sat on the edge of the little girl’s bed, a small
overhead lamp beaming onto the smooth white pages.
your eyes,” she said. “And if you want anything, just
knock gently on the wall with this hand mirror,” and she handed
her a beautiful silver embossed hand mirror with a long curved handle.
You can do it any time in the night as well, and I will come.”
The little girl smiled as best she could. “Now, go ahead.
Close your eyes.”
The little girl leaned back and her sister, in the sweetest, kindest
upon a time, there was a little girl who longed for the most beautiful
pair of bright red shoes…”
The Red Shoes is the story of a little girl who wants a pair of beautiful
red shoes. To her, they are magical, and give flight to all her desires.
She buys them and attends a dance wearing them. Deliriously happy,
she dances in them throughout the evening. At last, she becomes tired
and wants to go home and take them off. The shoes, however, do not
become tired. They want to keep dancing and they do, dancing the girl
into the forest, across mountains, along rivers, through towns, near
and far. Nothing stops the shoes. The girl becomes exhausted. She
falls down and begs her friends to remove the shoes in whatever way
they can. In some versions, they cut them off, and cut off her feet
as well; in others, they cut off her hands too, for having desired
them; in yet others, she simply dies and the shoes fall off. Each
version offers the moral that the shoes, while beautiful, cannot be
acquired without cost, and that even a preference for art and a taste
for beauty cannot eliminate that.
Some Notable Versions of the Tale:
Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales (1854)
RED SHOES (1948) - Film (Archer Productions)
Pinkola Estes, WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES
and, of course, in THE
WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy goes back home by clicking her ruby slippers.
Clearly, the image of the little girl being read the story, and the
bright, magical image of
the shoes themselves, in the firelight, appeared healing to me, and
not tragic. I saw in them all the beauty of art and the imagination.
I wanted to hang that image in my studio. I wanted to offer that image
to others who wanted to develop their own imaginations, particularly
through writing, theater, dance, paint. I thought of offering classes
and workshops in creativity exploration. I thought up ways to invite
people into their own colorful inner landscapes in groups and one-to-one.
I also decided to publish a book under the aegis of the image: Red
perils of the image, of course, haunted me. How could I take away
the negativity surrounding their fate on the feet of the little
girl? How could I reduce the demonic quality in them and in the
creative process itself? It was replete with challenges I recognized
– constant effort and tireless trials, the acts of creation
demanding so much. Still, it was essential to find ways to balance
life and art, if life was going to be lived.
My Mission then became:
Strengthening balance between imagination and worldly concerns;
growth and self-expression over punishment for wanting art; Developing
art and spirit through the creative process.
In other words, to put on and take off the red shoes at the appropriate
time. While, the Red Shoes might embody a quest for oneness, the
course does not lack obstacles. Each of us has our dream and we
must find ways to make it real.
|Red Shoes Press. My First Venture. Publishing
books of personal Transformation.
|Red Shoes Theaterworks.Writing, Performing
Red Shoes Center for Creativity.
Writing and Creativity Development Work