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throwing shoes at tyrants


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I'm wondering if dance critics everywhere shouldn't weigh in on this topic --

Pundits are gassing about it as if there were really nothing to say, no precedent anywhere, when RIGHT NOW it's timely -- in every Nutcracker, Clara/Masha throws her shoe at the Mouse King and to splendid effect....

And in mr B's version, the princeling then cuts the crown off the other end of his body and puts it on our girl, whereupon even bigger magic kicks in.

Magic is always rooted in very familiar functions.

Any other instances of shoes used as weapons?

I can think of two: From Greek antiquity, Aphrodite fights off a satyr with her slipper. There are lots of statues showing htis, e.g.

http://www.museum-replicas.com/ms_ProductD...018&SCID=16

And when Nikita Kruschev took off his shoe and pounded on the table at the UN -- (Cuban missile crisis?) and thundered "We will bury you!"

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Same action, different traditions.

In the west, shoes would just be a convenient missile. Indeed "sabotage" is an old tradition in places where they wear wooden shoes - and they do smart some! I am not 100% sure on the tradition in place in Iraq, but it strikes me as remarkably similar to the tradition in Thailand, where the head, being closer to Heaven, is very nearly sacred, while the feet are unspeakably gross, almost obscene, because they are the farthest thing down. Worse than that are shoes, which go under the feet, and so are even filthier than the feet themselves. A good Thai obscene gesture is to show the soles of your shoes at someone. You can start a riot! Remember the crowds hammering on the fallen statue of Saddam with their shoes? Same idea.

A CNN reporter was asked about why the fellow threw shoes, and he dodged and weaved around the social implications, preferring to interpret it as "just because they were there", and the security frisk before was so intense. A banana cream pie with whipped cream would never have gotten in!

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More than the shoe itself, I'm always impressed that faced with a giant mouse king, Masha/Clara used her head and whatever weapon she had; as a girl, her options were limited. Much like Sylvia thinking her way out of the Orion's clutches.

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Thanks for the examples, Mel.

THe tradition in English has SOME inkling of foot-based humiliations. Here from Shakespeare: "I do affect the ground (which is base) where her shoe (which is baser) guided by her foot (which is basest) doth tread." (love's labours lost, Act I, scene 2).

In the South, where I grew up, I never heard of anyone throwing a shoe at smoeone else -- but it IS the sort of thing Tallulah Bankhead might have done.

More shoes?

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Although I oppose President Bush and most of his policies, and voted against him every chance I got, I think he handled this incident rather well. "Bush responded," says the reporter, "to the shoe-throwing by quipping that the shoes were "size 10" and joking to reporters: "I didn't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole." ' That's snappy and charming and handsome, and he doesn't get my vote but he DOES get some kudos for sheer good temper.

I think he knows it when he gets out-Bubba'ed, and this guy out-Bubba'ed him big-time.

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Although I oppose President Bush and most of his policies, and voted against him every chance I got, I think he handled this incident rather well. "Bush responded," says hte reporter, "to the shoe-throwing by quipping that the shoes were "size 10" and joking to reporters: "I didn't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole." ' That's snappy and charming and handsome, and he doesn't get my vote but he DOES get some kudos for sheer good temper.

I think he knows it when he gets out-Bubba'ed, and this guy out-Bubba'ed him big-time.

As Mr Zaidi threw the second shoe he apparently called out: "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq."

Let's hope that President Bush doesn't let his final response be a joke about shoe size. I hope he would respond to Zaidi in a dignified manner and appeal for clemency on behalf of the journalist as an acknowledgment of tragedy driving the man's outcry.

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Thanks for the examples, Mel.

THe tradition in English has SOME inkling of foot-based humiliations. Here from Shakespeare: "I do affect the ground (which is base) where her shoe (which is baser) guided by her foot (which is basest) doth tread." (love's labours lost, Act I, scene 2).

In the South, where I grew up, I never heard of anyone throwing a shoe at smoeone else -- but it IS the sort of thing Tallulah Bankhead might have done.

More shoes?

doesn't let his final response be a joke about shoe size?

Since shoe size has been brought up among other relevant minutiae (including lowness of shoes and feet), I thought I should, in descending perhaps still lower, mention that I had a hilarious friend I once worked with at one of the Valentino shows, and she once lamented her then-current infrequency of dating by saying 'I'm so desperate at this point, I'd take a shoe size', which may or may not be a well-worn phrase but if Tallulah wouldn't have said it--and she would--then Marlene Dietrich would have.

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Another Thai story: During the Vietnam War, Bob Hope actually got himself declared persona non grata and expelled from Thailand for recycling an old joke from his WWII island-hopping tours.

Boy, these Thais are really tiny people. I put my shoes out in the hall last night, and this morning, I found a family of Thais living in one.

The Thai government immediately reacted with charges of disrespect to the people and to religion (each good for about five years in prison). Hope tried to apologize and explain why he told the joke, and only made things worse.

I only meant that I have such big feet....

He and his company were outta there within the hour on a special flight brought in to avoid further diplomatic embarrassment. The joke would have been fairly harmless in Vietnam, which has different traditions.

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I've always thought of Clara's shoe as the spur-of-the-moment weapon of the weak and relatively defenseless. Besides, in the most popular versions her in North America, at least, she won't bee needing a point shoe any more.

:wallbash:

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I think that you're right, there, bart. It was once noted by a mom watching the NYCB production that in Act II, she still was wearing only one shoe. "Of course," said the offspring, "She threw the other one at the Mouse King!" Kids pick up on these sorts of details! (If I recall correctly, now she does recover her other shoe somewhere along the line.)

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I think that you're right, there, bart. It was once noted by a mom watching the NYCB production that in Act II, she still was wearing only one shoe. "Of course," said the offspring, "She threw the other one at the Mouse King!" Kids pick up on these sorts of details! (If I recall correctly, now she does recover her other shoe somewhere along the line.)

Edwin Denby told the story of the mother and daughter in his review of "The Nutcracker". I don't have the book with me, so this isn't an exact quote, but Denby noted that the girl watched and understood.

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(If I recall correctly, now she does recover her other shoe somewhere along the line.)
In the Balanchine version, yes. But in many of the other "after Petipa" versions around North America, Clara retitres from pointe work as soon as she flies or glides away on here journey to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy (or some variant of that name).

One of the stories about the Bush incident mentioned that the perpetrator, as he was being hauled away, kept shouting at Bush: "Dog! Dog!" I have heard that dogs have very low status in many parts of the Islamic world. In the West, on the other hand, to call someone a "Dog" no longer has the negative power it once has. We love (or claim to love) dogs too much nowadays, I suppose.

This got me curious: I know that cats have figured in ballets, but ... have there been any ballets in which dogs play a role, either as supernumararies, as characaters, or as symbols?

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(If I recall correctly, now she does recover her other shoe somewhere along the line.)
In the Balanchine version, yes. But in many of the other "after Petipa" versions around North America, Clara retitres from pointe work as soon as she flies or glides away on here journey to the Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy (or some variant of that name).

One of the stories about the Bush incident mentioned that the perpetrator, as he was being hauled away, kept shouting at Bush: "Dog! Dog!" I have heard that dogs have very low status in many parts of the Islamic world. In the West, on the other hand, to call someone a "Dog" no longer has the negative power it once has. We love (or claim to love) dogs too much nowadays, I suppose.

This got me curious: I know that cats have figured in ballets, but ... have there been any ballets in which dogs play a role, either as supernumararies, as characaters, or as symbols?

When Peter Wright staged Giselle in the 60's for the Royal Ballet Touring Company, he used Wolfhounds to dress the hunting scene for the entrance of the Prince of Courland and what a splendid sight these huge dogs made. David Bintley used Lurchers in his King Arthur ballet.

ADDED I think David Blair's production of "Giselle" had a dog(s) in it.

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In the West, on the other hand, to call someone a "Dog" no longer has the negative power it once has. We love (or claim to love) dogs too much nowadays, I suppose.

That's not really my experience, though. It can refer in a mean way to someone's looks still (fashionistas talking about women most often, I guess), although I agree there's 'sly dog' and related terms. Then there's the pseudo-cool 'he ain't nuthin' but a hound dog' as used, for example, by Maureen Dowd for Giuliani and/or Clinton (Bill, of course), which is somewhat neutral, in that the recipient things he's wonderful to be the hound dog, although he may be making a fool of himself in the eyes of others. 'Cool cat' still has more status, though, as with Obama.

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One of the stories about the Bush incident mentioned that the perpetrator, as he was being hauled away, kept shouting at Bush: "Dog! Dog!" I have heard that dogs have very low status in many parts of the Islamic world. In the West, on the other hand, to call someone a "Dog" no longer has the negative power it once has. We love (or claim to love) dogs too much nowadays, I suppose.

To call a woman a ‘dog’ in reference to her looks is as offensive as it ever was, and the expression is still distressingly common.

President Clinton is often referred to as the Big Dog, as a compliment or jovial nickname.

It was once noted by a mom watching the NYCB production that in Act II, she still was wearing only one shoe. "Of course," said the offspring, "She threw the other one at the Mouse King!" Kids pick up on these sorts of details!

Yes, I think Edwin Denby tells that story.

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