Don't make my little girl a princess: Choreographer uses Chilean poem for new Big Muddy performance | St. Louis Public Radio

Don't make my little girl a princess: Choreographer uses Chilean poem for new Big Muddy performance

Mar 1, 2017

A 20th century Chilean poet who wanted her daughter to be more than just a princess is the inspiration for a dance performance on stage in St. Louis this weekend at the Touhill.

The dance that is rooted in the poem is called “Destino, Roto.” It’s one of three pieces in Dance St. Louis’ “Women Who Inspire,”  the name of the organization’s fifth annual New Dance Horizons presentation.

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez of Chicago worked with local Big Muddy Dance Company to create “Destino, Roto,” which translates to “Broken Destiny.” But it’s women’s strength, not brokenness, that Martinez focuses on as she draws from her Mexican and Spanish heritage.

St. Louis Ballet and Madco Dance Company also are part of the “Women Who Inspire” performance.

We spoke with Martinez about her experience creating “Destino, Roto” with Big Muddy.

On why this poem inspired her:

Choreographer Stephanie Martinez, 49, enlisted her 24-year-old sister to compose the music for Destino, Roto, which became a bonding experience.
Credit Provided | Dance St. Louis

I was read this poem when I was a child, by my grandmother. And for me, this work is based on the many people who have actually influenced and inspired throughout my life. It includes but is not limited to the women in my Latino culture, the women that raised me.

The name of the poem is “Miedo” and the translation is “Fear” and it’s by the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral.

I don't want them to turn my little girl into a swallow. She would fly far away into the sky and never fly again to my straw bed, or she would nest in the eaves where i could not comb her hair. I don't want them o turn my little girl into a swallow.

I don’t want them to make my little girl a princess. In tiny golden slippers how could she play on the meadow? And when night came, no longer would she sleep at my side. I don’t want them to make my little girl a princess.  

And even less do I want them one day to make her queen. They would put her on a throne where iI could not go to see her. And when nighttime came I could never rock her.  I don’t want them to make my little girl a queen.

This woman, Gabriela, is talking about … she’s a mother, and not wanting her daughter to become a princess or a queen, and not growing up to be looked at, as such. But she wanted her to be looked at as a strong, independent woman, and she really hoped that for her destiny.

On working with Big Muddy Dance Company:

Members of Big Muddy Dance Company rehearse for this weekend's performances in connection with Dance St. Louis' Women Who Inspire.
Credit Ania L. Colvin, Big Muddy Dance Company

The women will be live-drumming onstage … the dancers, the women from the Big Muddy. That is something usually the men do, and so I wanted the women to have some fun. 

So there were a lot of components involved with making this work, and I did a lot of it in the studio. And  took that to the Big Muddy and basically gave them a lot of material. But I really created it specifically on them, for them. Because I thought they were the company that  had the “chops,” and that could handle it.

If you go:

Dance St. Louis’ New Dance Horizons IV: “Women Who Inspire”

Blance M. Touhill Performing Arts Center, 1 University Blvd.

Friday-Saturday, March 3-4

Tickets are $20 each, available on The Touhill website

Follow Nancy on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL