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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Ballerina and the Steadfast Tin Soldier 堅定の錫兵

Updated: Jan 14

"The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (Danish: Den standhaftige tinsoldat) is literary a bittersweet fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a tin soldier's love against all odds for a paper ballerina. The tale was first published in Copenhagen by C.A. Reitzel on 2 October 1838 in the first booklet of Fairy Tales Told for Children. New Collection. The booklet consists of Andersen's "The Daisy" and "The Wild Swans". A romantic tale that’s both tragic and beautiful in its simplicity, the tale was Andersen's first not based upon a folk tale or a literary model. "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" has been adapted to various media including ballet and animated film.

On his birthday, a boy receives a set of 25 toy soldiers all cast from one old tin spoon and arrays them on a table top. One soldier stands on a single leg, as having been the last one cast there was not enough metal to make him whole. Nearby, the soldier spies a pretty paper ballerina with a spangle on her sash. She, too, is standing on one leg, and the soldier falls in love. That night, a goblin among the toys in the form of a jack-in-the-box, who also loves the ballerina, angrily warns the soldier to take his eyes off her, but the soldier ignores him.

The next day, the soldier falls from a windowsill (presumably the work of the goblin) and lands in the street. Two boys find the soldier, place him in a paper boat, and set him sailing in the gutter. The boat and its passenger wash into a storm drain, where a rat demands the soldier pay a toll.

Sailing on, the boat is washed into a canal, where the tin soldier is swallowed by a fish. When this fish is caught and cut open, the tin soldier finds himself once again on the table top before the ballerina. Inexplicably, the boy throws the tin soldier into the fire, which is most likely the work of the jack-in-the-box goblin. A wind blows the ballerina into the fire with him; she is consumed by it. The maid cleans the fireplace in the morning and finds that the soldier has melted into a little tin heart, along with the ballerina's spangle, which is now burned black as coal.

The photo is just a scene off the streets of Venice, with the French models Antonio Arsenale in their fairy tale ensemble. We have something in common that we all love fairy tales and Venetian Culture. Because classic fairy tales are so well-loved, one would think them easy to remake. But, on the contrary, that is the reason that makes them hard to retell. This photo is our Venetian illustration of the fairy tale. Antonio Arsenale's costumes are truly unique and just as real Tin Soldiers have made many children happy as they are passed through their little hands, Ballerina and the Steadfast Tin Soldier have brought much joy to the people in Venice during Carnevale. Thank you once again for the timeless memory and for being part of my Fairy Tale travels. I look forward to meeting everyone again at the Venice Carnevale in 2023...

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