One of my favorite parts of Disney’s classic animated film Fantasia is set to a musical piece known as Dance of the Hours, the ballet section from Ponchielli’s opera La Gioconda. Disney’s inventive animated interpretations made classical music accessible to everyone. In this scene of the film, an assortment of ballet-dancing critters – hippos, ostriches, elephants and crocodiles – were used to portray the music’s charm and humor.
At the 2009 International Flower and Garden Festival in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park, these characters from the ballet sequence in Fantasia were represented in topiary around the Innoventions section of FutureWorld.
At the Flower and Garden Festival in EPCOT this year, there was a whole section at the front of the park devoted to Disney’s 1941 animated classic Fantasia, which made my heart glad. Disney does not put the old classics on the shelf, but finds ways to introduce them to subsequent generations of Disney fans.
Here’s one of the dancing mushrooms from Fantasia, rendered in topiary. Note the red hat! The sequence with the mushrooms is set to a section of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite ballet. While googling around for tidbits about the dancing mushrooms, I came across some conversations that debated whether or not the sequence is racist. I’m not sure where people are getting “racist” out of this sequence. The piece of music is called the Chinese Dance, which is probably why the Disney artists chose to go with Chinese dancing mushrooms.
Here, have a look – it’s one minute, seven seconds long – and then tell me what your thoughts are:
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