Cacti on the mind (and in the stores)

Cacti are in this season, and I’d like to think Alexander Ekman has something to do with it.

An ad popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day, singing praises for the symbol of individuality expressed in Kate Spade’s south of the border summer line featuring cacti—purses in the shape of cacti, shirts with cacti, cacti charms... “a lesson in cacti,” the ad read, “be sharp, not prickly. embrace uniqueness. surprise people with joy when they least expect it. and lastly, flourish (and encourage) others to do the same!”

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman's Cacti; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet in Alexander Ekman's Cacti; photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy Boston Ballet

The gospel of cacti is cute, trendy and, admittedly, pretty good advice. Kate Spade is one of many distributors like Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Target, Etsy and Pier 1 Imports selling cactus gear this season (we’re talking hats, blouses, swimsuits, jewelry, phone cases, lamps, candles, mugs, bedsheets, fake cacti, real cacti, even cacti-shaped ice trays), but this one particularly caught my eye due to its amusing effort to assign deep meaning to a cactus.

This amusement comes with Alexander Ekman’s popular and widely-performed Cacti on the mind. The satirical ballet pokes fun at the pretentiousness of putting stock put in “profound” artistic symbols. The Swedish choreographer uses cacti as props, obscure objects which would be ridiculous symbols for meaning.

When companies perform this ballet, their gift shops sell little cacti trinkets, like charms and pins. Sometimes they’ll feature their dancers sporting the look, for all their followers to see. Many take fashion cues from ballet dancers, so it’s not a bad strategy!

But did Alexander Ekman inspire the cactus trend this season? Maybe. Maybe not. My balletic bias compels me to give him credit, but despite my appreciation for Ekman’s ballet and my Pacifica cactus water makeup removing wipes (which I highly recommend, by the way), you won’t find me boasting any cacti gear this summer. Sorry, Kate!