The next day when the festival began anew, after her family had gone again, Cinderella went to the hazel tree and said:</i>
Shake and quiver, dear little tree,
Throw green and gold down to me.
Then the birds threw down an even more magnificent dress than on the preceding day. It was vibrant as the green of spring, with beautiful leaves of silver and gold. When Cinderella appeared at the festival in this dress, everyone was astonished at her beauty.
When I went to design my version of Cinderella, I read the story over and over and contemplated how I wanted to retell it. For me, the issue of prejudice to skin color became a very real reason for the Stepmother's hate. I imagined Ella as the daughter of an Englishman and an woman he'd met in his travels- perhaps an Indian woman set during the time when Britain reigned over that land. When they returned to the West, she caught ill and passed. Her father remarried the Stepmother (with her blonde, English daughters), but was soon off on his travels again.
With the father gone, the stepmother and sisters would treat Cinderella as a servant, and tell the visitors she wasn't their sister- which no one would question due to the racial prejudices of the land.
To me, this helps make Grimm's wording of "silk slippers" and "foreign princess" even more purposeful to me.
I was worried when I presented my thesis that people would think I made Ella a woman of color just to garner views, or attention. I chose to portray her as such because it truly does fit with my version (and understanding) of the story- and because I feel that there need to be more stories about mixed children rising above being outsiders.
In the original tale, "the king proclaimed a festival that was to last three days", and Cinderella's mother (from beyond the grave, buried under the tree) gifted her three dresses, each more beautiful than the last.
This SECOND dress is suggestive of Spring. The tree on the grave is beginning to bud with leaves, and Cinderella's heart is beginning to open up to the idea of her dreams coming true. I picked Green because it reminds me of fresh starts and possibilities. She's starting to dance a little in this composition, and be proud about who she is and where she came from. She feels more comfortable with the audience- enough to show us her back.
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