Dancing Queen

Dancing Queen

The Tall Tale

This is the story of the greatest Tayū who ever lived, putting on a second show in this secluded wing of the Alhambra. Her first was for the king and queen. Now she dances on the spot for a motley crew of gamblers — just like the ones in every palace on this tour — servants and black sheep who know about her double life. They'd all heard the tale of the Dancing Queen you couldn't knock down. And she let the legend run wild. Encouraging it through her own fleet of influencers. Fleecing one motley crew of well to doers after another with her fish fingered two-step. Knowing no matter what mayhem they throw her way, she'd grab it like every other plate, bowl and teapot she's caught in Kyoto. With aplomb, midair, a ring cycle on spin cycle, never stopping, not for anyone... and certainly not for this silly lot who thought they'd knock her off her spot. With what? A fish? Ridic. No wonder it's a bet she'd made so many times over. From Buenos Aires to Ceylon they'd tried to take her on, and why on Earth would she refuse? The Dancing Queen doesn't lose...


The Tayū (太夫) were the highest class of traditional courtesan in traditional Japan. Distinguished by their intensive training from a young age in numerous traditional artforms... and the fact they didn't engage in sex work. They were celebrities, then. Not courtesans. And I like to think in the not too distant past, people knew about far flung celebrities in the same way we do now — the Industrial world's version of Amitabh Bachchan or Fan Bing Bing. Except Tayū were something else entirely. An all-in-one entertainment machine. Like the one seen here with that doggone fish.

Sources Of Inspiration

Tayū and courtesan culture in traditional Japan • Andalucia — cradle of queens who fought in battle • The smoky, lurid excess of French salons • Running away with the circus

Details, Details

I edited a few men out of this piece and replaced them with women from all walks of life, because the source material was all hopped up on the male gaze... and there's no space in this daydream for that. 

100% digital paper cut-outs, spring flowers in bloom, a performance that will live in the mind forever and a day, in a setting fit for a queen • Art prints and greeting cards from 5x7" up to 24x32"


Try Another Diversion...