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Ashley Bouder, member of the New York City Ballet, dances the role of Soarina from "The Kingdom of the Sun Sprites"

by Robert Abrams, Natalie Laruccia
October 21, 2003
Primus Photography Studio
64 Wooster Street #3E
New York, NY 10012
212-966-3803

Fashion - Ashley Bouder, member of the New York City Ballet, dances the role of Soarina from "The Kingdom of the Sun Sprites"

Photos by Natalie Laruccia
Text by Robert Abrams
Clothing modeled by Ashley Bouder, Member of the New York City Ballet
October 21, 2003

Not that long long ago, in a place not very far away, there was a land called the Kingdom of the Sun Sprites. This was a magical place where the sun shone brightly all day and the rain fell gently at night, but only when the crops needed the water or the people felt like dancing in the rain. Many different kinds of people and creatures lived in the Kingdom of the Sun Sprites. They got along with each other most of the time. They would help each other build their houses and bake their bread. Sometimes they would disagree with each other, just like people everywhere. When this happened, their wise old king would help them find a fair solution.

The king was getting old. He knew that he could not be king forever. He also knew that his subjects would be happiest if they could solve their problems on their own. Plus, he was a student of history, so he knew that while it is good to be king, it is better to be the King of England than the King of France, so to speak. So he taught his subjects everything they needed to know how to govern, such as how to use Robert's Rules of Order to make laws by proposing and seconding motions, dividing motions, and passing proposals by majority vote (so long as a proper quorum is present).

The king finished teaching his people, and appointed his daughter, Soarina, to be the Kingdom of the Sun Sprites' first constitutional monarch. Soarina promised her father that she would help her people make the transition to democracy. A short time later her father passed away.

Soarina was very sad. She had loved her father very much. Since her people could now take care of themselves, she decided to take a trip to visit her friend Dahlia, a flower fairy who lived in Denmark. Soarina had resisted visiting Denmark because all she knew of the place was what she had read in Hamlet, but finally Dahlia persuaded her that Denmark was a beautiful place to visit with many innovative young choreographers whose work she just had to see. Soarina packed her bags and her sorrows, said goodbye to her favorite bubbling spring, and boarded a boat for Denmark.

While Soarina was away, the people of the Kingdom of the Sun Sprites started to build a new house. They couldn't agree whether to have the kitchen's nook face the morning sun or the evening sun. They used what the old king had taught them, but they argued for three days and three nights and still they could not decide. So they held a referendum. They made a decision, but no one was happy about it. Things went from bad to worse until where once there had been sunshine and smiles, now there was a prickly thicket of snarls and regulations. As if to match the people's mood, a great cloud rolled in and refused to go away.

Do you know what a thicket of snarls covered by a dark, grey cloud looks like? In my mind's eye, it looks a little like the picture at left. When Soarina heard the news, she rushed home. She was very very sad at what she found there. She was very very sad because she had lost her father and her people had lost their happiness.

Soarina thought to herself, "What can I do to make my people happy again?" She always loved to dance. The people had always loved to see her dance. "I will dance for them, and that will make them happy," she thought. So she danced.

She was wearing a black Danskin tank leotard with double diamond back detail with shelf bra ($32.00, style 2433), and a pair of black Danskin women's nylon footed tights ($9.50, style 69). She likes these tights because they are run resistant, but especially because of their birdseye texture. Soarina liked to soar with the birds, and so she thought wearing the tights was poetic, even if no one ever quite got the joke. She also wore a Danskin women's wrap skirt in theatrical pink ($20.00, style 1886). Dahlia had taken Soarina to Danskin's Denmark outlet thinking that it might help Soarina forget her grief. It was therapeutic, somewhat. Soarina had always loved running her hand over her father's velvet royal cape and some of the Danskin fabric was also velvety, so she bought a big bag of clothing. But she was also a wise woman in the way that her father was wise, so she knew, even as she was shopping, that nothing would heal her heart like time.

She danced and she danced some more, but nothing helped. She kept running into brick walls. (Not literally, though. She had been training at the Royal Ballet Academy since the age of three.)

Her people were still sad. The dark grey cloud would just not go away.

She tried spinning. Spinning always made her people happy before. But this time it did not work. She spun faster and faster, but this just made her look like a blur. She thought, "I will spin so fast I will make the cloud blow away." But the cloud said to her, "You may be a beautiful ballerina, but I am a dark cloud. You will never be able to blow me away, no matter how fast you spin." (Soarina is a sprite, which is a kind of fairy, so she could hear clouds talk, even if you or I can't.)

Soarina knew she had to try a different approach.

Soarina went back to her favorite babbling spring to think. She noticed that each kind of people was sitting in a little group by themselves. In the past, people would have been sitting with people who were both similar and different from themselves. Now, however, the tree people were off standing in a corner. The flamingo people were clumped to one side with their backs turned away from everyone else. The frog people were squatting on lily pads on the other side pretending not to notice anyone at all, even other frogs.

Soarina talked to each group in turn. She found out that while the dispute had started over where to put the kitchen in the new house, things had deteriorated to the point where they had said many nasty things to each other. The flamingos had told the frogs that eating flies was disgusting. The frogs had told the trees that they were getting fat. The trees had told the flamingos that they just weren't graceful when they danced. On and on this went until everyone just stopped talking to each other.

Soarina decided she would try to show each group how she saw them.

She danced like the trees, reaching for the sky.

She danced like the flamingos, bending her head under her body the way that flamingos reach for their food in the water.

She danced like the frogs, using all four limbs to leap from one lily pad to another.

By this point, Soarina had changed into a black Danskin women's princess seamed camisole unitard, which is fit for a princess and features a pinch front and comfortable shelf bra ($46.00, style 7048).

When the trees and the flamingos and the frogs saw themselves and each other as Soarina, their beloved queen, saw them, they saw the truth. They felt rather bad about what they had said to each other. After a little coaxing from Soarina, they apologized to each other.

Everyone was so happy to be friends again. They started dancing together. Soarina looked up and realized that the dark cloud had drifted away. As he disappeared over the horizon, she thought she saw him wink at her.

Soarina was so happy that the sun was shining and her people were happy, that she joined the dance. She leaped in the air in joy.

It was only much later that she remembered a story her father had told her about her grandmother. You can see her in the picture behind Soarina. When her grandmother first arrived in the Kingdom of the Sun Sprites, the land was covered by a dark cloud then too. That dark cloud had arrived because of an argument over who baked the best pie. Her grandmother had found words to find the beauty within each pie, and everyone made up over a great feast.

Soarina remembered that her father had admired her grandmother (his mother) greatly and always strove to live by this example and teach that way of living to his daughter. Thinking on this, Soarina realized that what she had accomplished today would have made her father proud. She lay down to sleep, and for the first time in a long time, sweet dreams came easily.

Danskin clothing can be purchased at www.danskin.com, by calling 1-800-288-6749 or at one of their many stores. Click here and learn how to receive free shipping on your Danskin purchases!

"The Kingdom of the Sun Sprites" was photographed at Primus Studios, located at 64 Wooster Street #3E, New York, New York 10012. Call them at 212-966-3803 if you need an inspirational space to shoot. Special thanks to Gary Breckheimer of Primus for his assistance.

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