Find Me in Paris Is the Ultimate Ballerina Princess Escapist Fantasy!

In 2002, the anime series Princess Tutu combined fairy tales and ballet by introducing a magical girl who was a ballerina princess. In actuality, the main character was neither a ballerina nor a princess but is, in fact, a duck who transforms into one. For some of us, this concept was a bit too out there to wrap our heads around, so I'm grateful that in 2018, the French/German production studio, Cottonwood Media, created a series about an actual ballerina princess called Find Me in Paris. This live-action fantasy drama was recommended by one of my readers and currently has two seasons out on Hulu with a third one on the way. I perused all 52 episodes in three days and am now fully prepared to explain why it is the perfect princess series to binge in your tower.


Find Me in Paris begins with a subtle throwback to Anastasia in which a Russian Princess from the year 1905 named Lena Grisky mysteriously disappears after her boyfriend gives her a magical piece of jewelry. She wakes up in the year 2018 at the dance academy she attended in Paris in her own time. At first, her too-good-to-be-true roommate, Ines, assumes she is Amish due to her lack of familiarity with technology, but she quickly picks up modern customs and dialects. Lena gives off major Disney Princess vibes with her happy-go-lucky attitude, flawless grace on the dance floor, and ability to brighten the lives of everyone she interacts with. Think of it as a mashup of Disney's Enchanted and the Spanish time travel Netflix series Always a Witch. Lena tries to make her way in the modern world while being enthralled by every new thing she sees. The show's half-hour light drama format is reminiscent of Jonathan Shiff's Australian female-driven series like The Elephant Princess and H2O: Just Add Water.


Like most time travel romance stories, Lena finds herself in love with people from two different time periods. However, the love triangle was not as satisfying as I would have liked due to the fact that she never chooses between the two and is perfectly content to romance both. Henri, her boyfriend from 1905, (Is the term "boyfriend" even historically accurate for 1905?) spends most of the series desperately trying to cheat the rules of time travel and get back to Lena. While they are separated, they are able to communicate through a magic brick on the roof of the dance academy that somehow sends letters back and forth between the two time periods. Henri is a simple man whose entire world revolves around Lena. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him when Lena developed feelings for her dance partner, Max, who is a more interesting character due to his secretive past and disability arc in the second season. Lena's feelings for both men are understandable, but it is frustrating to see her so complacent about leading them both on.

What makes this show \stand out from other time travel or princess stories is the overarching theme of dance. Find Me in Paris is a celebration of all different styles of dance, though the main focus is on ballet. It is a pleasure to watch these graceful performers practice their craft, especially since so many fairy tales have inspired ballets. When Lena arrives at the school, Ines introduces her to an underground hip hop dance group, and Lena learns to combine modern dance with classical dance for some stunning stylistic mashups. All of the most dramatic moments in the show take place in the middle of dance recitals, which creates beautiful eye candy that combines fancy costumes with sci-fi CGI effects. I found it odd that the students at Lena's dance school were forbidden from studying any other type of dance besides ballet, but the constant looming threat of expulsion added plenty of additional drama to Lena's extraordinary life.

I strongly recommend Find Me in Paris to fans of live-action princess shows and anyone who enjoys watching ballet. The looming threat of being permanently stuck between in different time periods makes it hard to stop watching, and the colorful cast of interesting characters keeps every moment interesting. Lena's diverse classmates each have their own story to tell. I loved the friendship between Lena and Ines, the rivalry with the mean ballerina Thea, and the budding romances between the protagonists and the dangerous Time Collectors. The only thing that I felt the show was missing was a rivalry between Henri and Max for Lena's affections. They each seemed content to let her be with the other, which made Lena's inability to choose even more frustrating. You can watch the first two seasons of Find Me in Paris on Hulu with the third season supposedly coming out later this year.

Comments

Ivy Grace said…
I think the students in Center Stage also weren't allowed to take classes outside their academy - either it's a very convenient plot device or maybe it is true? Thanks for spotlighting this series... Hope it comes to an Aussie streaming service too!
Lisa Dawn said…
That would make a little more sense. In this show, they were in a rebel dancing group where they wore masks and performed for pedestrians on the streets for YouTube fame and were not taking additional classes. Either way, I hope you are able to see it! Take care!
PrincessContent said…
I’ve only seen the first episode of this show. In Sweden where I live the show is on nickelodeon and the first episode can be watched for free on their website. One bad thing is that it’s been dubbed which is a bit annoying to me.
Luckily this show will soon premiere on a different Swedish streaming platform and I hope it will be in its original language.
One point I can give to the Swedish dub though, is that Lena does not call Henri her boyfriend. She calls him ‘min √§lskade’ which can be translated to ‘my dearest’, ‘my loved one’ or ‘my love’.
Lisa Dawn said…
Interesting that it would be more historically accurate in the dub than in the original language!

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