Image for Once Upon a TimeNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 45 minutes

Six classic fairytales are re-imagined and re-told through dance, movement and animation, without dialogue and with specially composed music.

Little Red Riding Hood - When Red Riding Hood meets a wolf in the forest they have a friendly little dance. She points to where she is going and it gives the wolf an idea. He races off to get there first. When she arrives at her grandma's house, Red Riding Hood soon realises something isn't right about her grandmother.

The Enormous Pumpkin - Classic tale told using synchronised movement and a real enormous pumpkin. A farmer plants seeds in a field. While waiting to see what will grow she falls asleep and wakes to find an enormous pumpkin. She calls her husband and they try to move it together. They call for more and more help - even calling the farm dog and then a tiny mouse. Finally they haul the pumpkin out of the field and everyone can share in the feast.

The Princess and the Pea - Fairytale told using interpretive dance. Five princesses are queuing up to audition to be the prince's new wife. In this modern slant on a classic tale, the princesses try all sorts to impress the prince, but he finds all of them a bit of a bore. When the last one comes on and sings him the sweetest song, it is love at first sight. But the queen isn't convinced she is a real princess and sends her to sleep on a tower of mattresses to see if she feels the pea that has been placed at the bottom of the pile.

Icarus - Watch the story of Icarus told using interpretive dance. A father and son are in prison in a tower. A feather falls through the window and gives the father an idea. He looks at the feather and at his son, and hatches a plan for escape. They empty their pillows of feathers, and using candle wax they make beautiful wings. They run through the castle and find a way out, and then it is the moment of truth - the father launches his son into the sky and watches him fly over the castle and away. But he flies towards the sun, the candle wax melts and the feathers and the boy fall back to earth.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf - Told using interpretive dance. A shepherd is watching his sheep. He tries to count them, but they won't stand still and he starts to get very bored. He comes up with a game to attract the villagers' attention. He shouts 'wolf' and when they hear his cry they drop everything and come running. When they get to the field they soon realise there is no wolf. They go back to the village. The boy shouts again. This time the villagers come over a little slower, and are annoyed again to find there is no wolf. When a real wolf appears and chases the boy he cries out, but the villagers think it is just a game and do not come to his rescue.

Twelve Dancing Princesses - Fairytale told using interpretive dance. Twelve princesses line up in their dormitory to be inspected by their father at bedtime. He conducts them into their beds and says goodnight. As soon as he has left the room the princesses' silver slippers start to twitch. The princesses get up and put them on and leave through a magic wardrobe only to return just before dawn, their shoes scuffed and soiled. When the king comes to wake them he is bemused by their ruined shoes and sets a prince the task of watching them. The princesses are clever and trick the prince into drinking sleeping powder in a glass of milk, so they slip out in the night again. The next night the king leaves a soldier to watch over them - he only pretends to drink the milk and follows them out through the wardrobe. He sees that they go to a magic grotto to dance all through the night. When he tells the king what he has seen the princesses think their dancing days are numbered, but the king returns in dancing shoes and asks to go with them!

Last on

Fri 21 Mar 2014 05:00 BBC Two

  • Photo: Little Red Riding Hood

    Photo: Little Red Riding Hood

    When Red Riding Hood meets a wolf in the forest first they have a friendly little dance. She points to where she’s going and it gives the wolf an idea, and he races off to get there first. When she arrives at her grandma’s house she soon realises something isn’t right about her grandmother...

    Watch Little Red Riding Hood on Class Clips
  • Photo: The Enormous Pumpkin

    Photo: The Enormous Pumpkin

    Watch this classic tale told using synchronised movement, and a real enormous pumpkin! A farmer plants seeds in a field. She waits and watches to see what will grow. She falls asleep and when she wakes she finds that what has grown is the most enormous pumpkin! She calls her husband and together they try to shift it. They call more and more help. Finally they call the farm dog, and then a tiny mouse, and finally they haul the pumpkin out of the field and everyone can share in the feast!

    Watch The Enormous Pumpkin on Class Clips
  • Photo: The Princess and The Pea

    Photo: The Princess and The Pea

    Watch The Princess and The Pea told using interpretive dance. Five Princesses are queuing up to audition to be the Prince’s new wife. In this modern slant on a classic tale the Princesses try all sorts to impress the Prince, but he finds all of them a bit of a bore. When the last one comes on and sings him the sweetest song, it’s love at first sight, only the Queen isn’t convinced she’s a real Princess and sends her to sleep on a tower of mattresses to see if she feels the pea she’s placed at the bottom of the pile. She has a restless night so they know she’s the real deal and everyone is happy.

    Watch The Princess and The Pea on Class Clips
  • Photo: The Princess and The Pea

    Photo: The Princess and The Pea

  • Photo: Icarus

    Photo: Icarus

    Watch the story of Icarus told using interpretive dance. A father and son are in prison in a tower. A feather falls through the window, and gives the father an idea. He looks at the feather and at his son, and hatches a plan for escape. They empty their pillows of feathers, and using candle wax they make beautiful wings. They run through the castle and find a way out, and then it’s the moment of truth – the father launches his son into the sky and watches him fly over the castle and away. But he flies towards the sun, the candle wax melts and the feathers and the boy fall back to earth.

    Watch Icarus on Class Clips
  • Photo: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

    Photo: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

    Watch the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf told using interpretive dance. A shepherd is watching his sheep. He tries to count them. But they won’t stand still and he’s getting very bored. He comes up with a game to attract the villager’s attention. He shouts ‘wolf!!” and when they hear his cry they drop everything and come running. When they get to the field they soon realise there is no wolf. They go back to the village. The boy does the same again and shouts ‘wolf!!”. This time the villagers come a little slower, and are annoyed again to find there is no wolf. When a real wolf appears and chases the boy he cries out, but the villagers think it’s just a game and do not come to his rescue, so the wolf gets a decent meal!

    Watch The Boy Who Cried Wolf on Class Clips
  • Photo: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

    Photo: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

  • Photo: Twelve Dancing Princesses

    Photo: Twelve Dancing Princesses

    Watch the classic fairytale of Twelve Dancing Princesses told using interpretive dance. Twelve Princesses line up in their dormitory to be inspected by their father at bedtime. He conducts them into their beds and says goodnight. As soon as he’s left the room the Princesses silver slippers start to twitch. The Princesses get up and put them on and leave through a magic wardrobe only to return just before dawn their shoes scuffed and soiled. When the King comes to wake them he’s bemused by their ruined shoes and sets a Prince the task of watching them. The Princesses are clever and trick the Prince into drinking sleeping powder in a glass of milk, so they slip out in the night again. The next night the King leaves a soldier to watch over them – he only pretends to drink the milk and follows them out through the wardrobe. He sees that they go to a magic grotto to dance all through the night. When he tells the King what he’s seen the Princesses think their dancing days are numbered, but then the King returns in dancing shoes and wants to go with them!

    Watch Twelve Dancing Princesses on Class Clips

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