21 May 2008

"Tiny Dancer"

Italian artisans make fantastic, elegantly dressed and bejeweled marionettes, and Venetian shops sell the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. They fascinate me. If I believed for even half a minute that I could actually learn to operate one of these little pretend beings, I would run straight out and buy one.

Their faces are so expressive and cunning. Their eyes glitter, their hairstyles gleam. Their intricate little costumes (complete with hats, boots or slippers, jewelry, furs, swords, masks, and props!) rival the most glamorous, costly ones offered for any full-size Carnevale reveler. The word for them is “delightful.”

Still, the one I like best is this dapper fellow, a wee, grinning skeleton in saddle oxfords and a blue fur top hat who dances like nobody’s business. He lives in a tiny lime green coffin when he’s not hoofing it for his young zinzaro (gypsy) master in knee pants. He’s got more personality and far more dazzling moves on the dance floor than most humans I know. He does it all: rock, pop, disco, salsa, hip-hop, or house. You can imagine his “Thriller” opening bit. (Moonwalk? Michael Jackson, step aside!) And he really works the crowd. Sometimes he’s quite bold. He picks out a female bystander and flirts shamelessly with her, never once missing a beat of his routine. It’s very funny to watch the way a few scraps of wood and papier m√Ęche on strings can make a grown woman blush!