Aleksandar Antonijevic of the National Ballet of Canada
The National Ballet of Canada is on the move and they are taking Alice with them. Last weekend the company appeared at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles to perform Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and scored by Joby Talbot. Ecstatic reviews suggest that the production was every bit as successful as the much-lauded North American premiere in Toronto in 2011 and it’s world premier in London earlier in the same year. North Americans will have another chance to see the ballet when it moves to the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. for performances from January 18 – 27, 2013.
Three thousand miles to the north west, the Connecticut Ballet recently performed an Alice in Wonderland aimed more squarely at children. The show, which included spoken narration by artistic director Brett Raphael, was performed once in Stamford and once in Harvard. The Harvard production, held at the Aetna Theater, part of the Wadsworth Atheneum, was just one in a series of ballets for families; Barbar the Elephant & Jungle Tales and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will follow early next year.
The Cincinnati Ballet present Septime Webre’s ALICE
Meanwhile the Cincinnati Ballet has had the great good fortune to present the regional premiere of Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland) from October 26 to 28. Matthew Pierce’s score was performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After a quick trip to the dry-cleaners, Liz Vandal’s outrageous costumes should now be on a plane heading south as Webre’s creation will next be performed by Ballet Hawaii in August 2013.
If you feel your day would benefit from a touch of ballet this very minute, check out the video below – it is an excerpt from the London premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed at Covent Garden. You know you are in Wonderland when a ballerina gets to eat jam tarts on stage.
The world premiere of Septime Webre’s ballet Alice (in Wonderland) in Washington, D.C., is less than a month away and Washington Life magazine is readying the town with a front cover photoshoot for their March edition. Sneak peak pictures are below and more can been seen online at Washington Life.
Also on the website is a behind-the-scenes account of the photoshoot, which involved trampolines, live white rabbits, and photographer Dean Alexander snapping the camera at just the right moment.
Opening night for the Washington Ballet’s ALICE (in wonderland) is just around the corner and tickets are selling quickly. The world premiere production is the work of Washington Ballet choreographer Septime Webre, designer Liz Vandal, and composer Matthew Pierce. It is being heralded as a fantastical take on an already pretty fantastical story and the contribution of Liz Vandal, whose creations you may have seen at the Cirque du Soliel’s OVOshow (the one with the insects), certainly suggests that this ballet is going to be a splendid spectacle.
Vandal’s costume sketches for the production were unveiled in January and were featured on the Huffington Post. They seem to promise a little bit of the familiar and a lot of the very strange indeed. Many more character sketches can been seen in a slideshow that accompanied the Huff Post’s article.
ALICE (in wonderland) will run from from April 11-15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater, with only seven performances in all. Tickets are priced from $55 to $155.
Alice is all the rage these days; just last month, both the Royal Ballet in London and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet put on major new productions. New York Theatre Ballet’s staging may not be the most lavish or the most recent (it was created in 2001), but it is not without its charms. Conceived as a ballet for children, it tells the story in a vaudeville style, with a touch of soft-shoe, a soupçon of burlesque, and a just smattering of dancing on pointe—by Alice, of course. The production is witty, clever, and blessedly brief. Gillian Bradshaw-Smith’s set designs were inspired by New York’s Palace Theatre, circa 1913, and the costumes, by Sylvia Nolan (Metropolitan Opera), are imaginative and lovely.
What New Yorker Magazine would be complete without the word ‘soupçon?’ Their blog Photo Booth includes four more of Cervantes’ lovely photos from the Follies, including these two:
New York Theatre Ballet's Alice-in-Wonderland Follies, photographed by the New Yorker's Julieta Cervantes
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet has just finished their premiere run of a new “Wonderland” choreographed by Shawn Hounsell at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall. It was there till March 13th, but it will now begin a worldwide tour of Canada, ending at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, April 28th to 30th. Paula Citron’s dance review in The Globe and Mail has a nice headline: The story wanders, but ‘Wonderland’ looks wonderful. Was she expecting a linear plot in a ballet adaption of Lewis Carroll? Here’s Citron’s critique:
…The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s new production of Wonderland, however, is both ambitious and flawed – the work is a technical triumph, but it falters in content. Montreal-based choreographer Shawn Hounsell has approached Alice from two sides. On one, the book’s favourite characters are given their rightful place on the stage, which provides both whimsy and humour. (There are also a couple of surprise cameo appearances.)
On the darker side, Hounsell has made Alice (Jacelyn Lobay) an older woman who is looking back through the rabbit hole at her dreamlike journey. That fantasy allows her to escape the mundane, but at the end of a second visit comes the reality check: Alice, and humankind in general, cannot escape into fantasy forever.
Hounsell’s problem is that, while he has fashioned Carroll’s famous characters with some skill, he has not really been able to portray the more serious parts of his vision. There is rather a disjointed quality to the choreography, and the voiceover text, while helpful, does not completely fill in the gaps. [Continue reading here.]
I wonder if adapters will ever tire of the older-Alices-returning motif, or if it’s chronically perennial? Here’s a little more of her review:
Beloved ballerina Tara Birtwhistle, looking like a 1980s Lady Gaga [What? -Ed.] with platinum hair, bright red bell bottoms and an Elizabethan collar, is a harridan of a Queen of Hearts. Using her megaphone, she shouts a stream of insults and orders, and of course her trademark “Off with their heads!” In my favourite line, she chastises the orchestra for playing too many notes.
There’s some more glowing review quotes from the RWB’s blog here.
All week long, the Promenade at the Dorchester (in London’s Mayfair on Park Lane) has been transformed into the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, with help from the English National Ballet‘s young dancers. If you’re in old Lud’s town, there’s still time to catch it this weekend. Author Jenny Woolf says she “thinks the costumes probably come from the Frederick Ashton version of Alice in Wonderland.” It’s apparently an annual event. From the press release:
The Dorchester’s award-winning afternoon tea will be served with pirouettes, pliés and petit sautés as dancers from English National Ballet dressed as some of the favourite characters from Alice in Wonderland will be found among the specially created decorations and flower displays. Children can look out for favourite characters including the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse and Alice herself.
Accompanying adults will be able to sink back and enjoy the entertainment with a glass of champagne, delicious savoury finger sandwiches, homemade scones and a selection of indulgent cakes and pastries.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party will be served on The Promenade at The Dorchester from 26 October to 1 November 2009 at two sittings, 2.15pm and 4.45pm, and is priced at £47.50 per adult including a glass of Champagne and £30.00 per child. (Prices are inclusive of VAT and exclusive of service charge at 12.5%) For every Mad Hatter’s Tea that is ordered £1 will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
On March 31, NCM Fathom and MarQe Entertainment Inc. announced a series of New York Theatre Ballet performances to be shown exclusively in select movie theaters nationwide beginning this August. Six performances of dynamic chamber ballet classics will be presented including The Alice in Wonderland Follies. Tickets will be available beginning Friday, July 10, at www.FathomEvents.com.
“Imagine Alice, 7 years old, born and raised in today’s Greenwich Village, New York City. From the moment she wakes up until she rests her weary head, her parents over schedule and manage her day. With Architecture, Piano, Book Club, French and Ballet classes overwhelming her, Alice has forgotten what it is like to be a child and simply play. Will her journey through Wonderland help her reclaim her childhood or is Alice destined to become an adult way before her time?” The New Acting Company presents Alice in Wonderland from April 25 to May 25: www.childrensaidsociety.org/pcc/nac/productions/aliceinwonderland