The late Princess Diana will soon be dancing in a Russian ballet. What a headline! And like most strange stories about Princess Diana, there is a grain of truth amid the mystery.
In this case, a Russian theater company is preparing to perform a new British ballet on the life and death of Diana, princess of Wales, titled "A Princess of Modernity."
The ballet was written by British psychologist and composer Keith Hearne, who told ABC News, "The ballet depicts the story of a girl who marries a 'prince of tradition.' She becomes the 'princess of modernity.'
"However, her modern attitudes clash with those of the prince. The girl will not conform to the expected role, the prince does not change, and so the inevitable breakup is enacted -- followed by unexpected tragedy."
Hearne also told ABC News about his reaction to Diana's death, "She was a young person, a remarkable woman, her humanity influenced the whole world."
He added, "When she died, it was a shock to me, it was a shock to many people, many hundreds of millions all over the world. And it touched on something that was spiritual in us all. So that was the spark for the ballet within me. I knew I had to write something about this. It has taken me many years, but it's now ready and available."
The Diana ballet will be performed initially by the Premiera company in Moscow, and is expected to open at the Stanislavsky Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in the fall.
Ilse Liepa, a principal ballerina for the Bolshoi ballet, will reportedly take the lead in the production. Organizers have not decided who will play the prince of tradition (undoubtedly meant to be Prince Charles).
Olga Lyakina, the general director of Premiera, told ABC News that Liepa was chosen for the main role "because she will be able to reflect Diana's beauty, her personality and all her subtleties through her movement and dancing."
Some of the 32 pieces, according to the ballet Web site, include "Dance of the young Princess-to-be," in which a young dancer portrays the princess in her childhood taking a ballet lesson. There are bursts of her individuality.
"Dance of the Prince of Tradition," reveals the prince's introspective nature. "The Children's Princess" shows the princess playing with children and remembering her own initial happiness with the prince. In "Love and Sadness," the royal relationship is shown collapsing, causing causing the princess much emotional hurt. A mandolin is used to express the princess's emotions in this piece.
That's quite a posthumous promotion. Diana may have been dubbed "the people's princess," but she was not a queen.
If all this sounds almost as if Diana has come back to life, in a way she has -- at least in the media.
Even in death, she still sells all kinds of publications. The British tabloid media is slowly working itself into a frenzy as it prepares for August 31, 2007, the 10th anniversary of Diana's death in a car crash in Paris.
In Russia, Olga Lyakina told ABC News that "Diana has many fans. Russian visitors to London often buy souvenirs of the princess when they are there."
"In fact," Lyakina added, "I personally know people who keep photographs of Diana in their homes. They appreciate her beauty, the difficulties she faced, and all that she did for society."
The reasons for the continued high interest are at least twofold.
First, some consider her the JFK of her generation -- in that she was taken from her public suddenly, violently and while still young. Second, like JFK, there are doubts and conspiracy theories surrounding her death that continue to persist despite the official verdict that her death was accidental.
Both French and British authorities came to the same conclusion, that it was a tragic accident caused by her drunk driver, Henri Paul.
But Mohammed Al Fayed, father of Diana's boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed, who also died in the crash, insists that Diana was murdered by British intelligence because she was going to marry Dodi, a Muslim. Mohammed Al Fayed has been granted permission to present his case to a new judicial inquiry later this year.
And in an opinion poll carried out on behalf of the BBC last December, there is strong public support for the unproven idea that it was murder. Forty-three percent of people agreed it was an accident when asked in a poll for a BBC TV series, "The Conspiracy Files." But 31 percent believed it was not an accident, with the remainder unsure.
Against this continuing backdrop of conspiracy accusations, and an endless public fascination with Diana, Keith Hearne has come up with his unusual ballet tribute to her.
He told ABC News: "The underlying subject is that of incompatibility, like that of Diana and Charles, [which] is a common human condition, at many levels, and can often lead to serious consequences."
The ballet, he said, covers a topic that has universal relevance.
So how does the composer think Prince Charles would react if he were to see the ballet?
Hearne said, "Charles would be, I think, actually quite pleased because one of the best tunes in the ballet is that of the Prince of Tradition!"
That said, "There is a great positivity about the princess and a negativity about the prince."
And how does he think young Princes William and Harry would feel about a ballet about the tragic incompatibility of their parents?
"I think they would be delighted," he said. "There are pieces that represent the children of the princess of modernity, and I did get a letter from Clarence House [the official residence of the princes] saying that they sent their best wishes, so I see that as a green light basically."
Maybe the light is green, maybe now. We do not know what the real feelings are inside Clarence House.
The apparent fact that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were incompatible is unlikely to comfort Diana's two sons, who have had to endure many media reminders of that as they have grown up. And now, Prince William is facing questions about his own romantic incompatibility, as the tabloids take up his recent breakup with long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton.
How would the ballet go down in Britain? Hearne thinks there would be a mixed reception, if it ever comes to London.
"In this country," he said, "there is still the influence of, shall we say, the old guard who would be, I suppose, be protective of the prince."
But Hearne is eager to take his Diana ballet to the United States. He told ABC News, "I've heard that she was much appreciated there. And I think there is a sort of American psyche, we've seen that in the aftermath of 9/11. I think that country has a feeling, and a group mind almost, and I think that was operating over Diana's death."
Furthermore, he said, "I think there is still a lot of unresolved grief about the woman, and I think it [the ballet] would be helpful, almost therapeutic."