WORLD PREMIERE OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND – THE BALLET
by C.M. Rubin
“What is the use of a ballet,” thought Alice, “without a proper story and specially written score?”
Critics are calling the new full length classical ballet, with a unique story and specially written score, the biggest artistic and financial risk any ballet company can take, and oh my ears and whiskers, the dance world wonders about the outcome of the Royal Ballet’s World Premiere of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in London on February 28th.
Christopher Wheeldon, one of the world’s foremost choreographers, has choreographed this ballet. Wheeldon trained at the Royal Ballet School and danced with both the Royal and City Ballets. He was the New York City Ballet’s resident choreographer for seven years beginning in 2001. He has been regarded by many as a worthy successor to George Balanchine. Some of his best known works to date are “Polyphonia” (2001) and “After the Rain” (2005).
Joby Talbot, who last worked with the Royal Ballet on Wayne McGregor’s award winning production of Chroma, has composed the original score, which will be played by the orchestra of the Royal Opera House. As all ballet lovers know, a ballet can hit or miss based on its score. Talbot has a diverse range of compositions in his portfolio, from film and TV scores (The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse) to classical and pop music with Sir Paul McCartney and Charlotte Church.
Will Alice be changed in the night? Will she get up in the morning and wonder who in the world she is? There have been numerous interpretations of Alice in Wonderland – none of which I have personally loved. However, Wheeldon has a reputation for choreography that pushes dancers to their limits and leaves an audience breathless. The British stars, Lauren Cuthbertson and Edward Watson, will lead the opening night cast as Alice and the White Rabbit. Sergei Polunin dances the Knave of Hearts. Zenaida Yanowsky is the Queen of Hearts. We are told to expect a world in which nothing is quite as it seems, and where nothing can be taken for granted. Tap dancing tea parties, a Shakespearean actor, and a psychedelic caterpillar are just some of the real or imagined happenings in the new ballet. The Alice In Wonderland score is described as mysterious and magical, with strong melodies and toe tapping tunes that will appeal to all ages. The darkly gothic designs by five time Tony award winner Bob Crowley have been influenced by photographs taken by Lewis Carroll himself, with a 21st century twist on classic Victoriana. Naturally, this all makes me curiouser and curiouser, and since there are no immediate plans to open the ballet in New York City, all I can do is hop across the rabbit pond and take a look for myself. Will get back to you with my thoughts then…..