“It’s like a little riddle,” Septime Webre chimes as the Washington Ballet’s company dancers flurry about the studio, preparing themselves for the hours of rehearsal ahead. Artistic director of The Washington Ballet and highly sought-after choreographer, Webre invited us to spend the afternoon with the company and (if it can get any more exciting!) preview the WORLD PREMIERE BALLET – ALICE (in Wonderland!). It was like entering into a Wonderland! Webre as the King, clad in all black, and his troupe of beguiling dancers, wearing a mix of Spring colors, nylon, and chiffon. Scroll down for more beautiful photos + STYLE FILES: THE WASHINGTON BALLET’S ALICE (IN WONDERLAND!) @ THE KENNEDY CENTER, EISENHOWER THEATER, APRIL 11-15, 2012. GET TICKETS HERE NOW!!!
all photos: Jeff Martin
A quick scan of the room takes you deeper into Webre’s wonderland, with dancers mingling amid their characters (Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Red Queen playfully rehearse their just choreographed movements) and the scattered “tea party” giggling at their reflections from the studio’s floor to ceiling looking-glass mirrors. It’s hard not to notice the unique uniforms fashioned by each individual in the room, layering being a key component to attaining what appears to be a highly comfortable and highly chic look.
A deep navy flamenco (ohh heyyy flamenco skirt! I like your moves!) skirt draped over a pair of black leggings moves through the room with a subtle but demanding elegance. High collars, backless leotards, and long sleeves are noted favorites among the coryphée. We are about to watch The Prologue- a preview to Alice’s wonderland- as the characters (and dancers) we meet will soon be mimicking Alice’s world. Septime explains this with a hurried excitement (as the dancers and commotion continue to blurrrrr); he compares two animated young dancers “the twins” to their soon to be counterparts Twiddledee and Twiddledum. The girls are playfully pairing black tights, over leggings, short skirts, and jumpers. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. And, I catch myself falling down the rabbit hole! As I dream-fully imagine my favorite black dress, sequined with a belt, with a pair of leggings underneath for a bit of ballerina edge.
I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle! – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
The rehearsal begins with the “Queens Implosion Tableau” where the soon-to-be Red Queen and the White Rabbit feud and Lewis Carrell himself makes an appearance at Alice’s tea party. A series of montages and dancers’ vignettes to place you and the audience into Alice’s fantastical world. It’s all part of the Prologue and Webre’s masterful plan to create a ballet that is beautiful, dramatic, and highly imaginative. Similar to the style and personalities that match the ballet! I note a few of the dancer’s more sporty attire: A neon leotard under a pair of worn track pants, with the side stripe running up the side. Fitted vintage tees and flats, reminiscent of last year’s popular menswear-inspired runway looks.
Beyond the rehearsal- and the Washington Ballet dancers’ covetable-cool style- there lies another piece to the Alice puzzle. The HIGH FASHION COSTUMES that transform the dancers (and may just provide the answer to Alice’s question!) from the studio to the stage. The season’s grandest production yet, the Washington Ballet’s Alice brings together the extraordinary talents of designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soleil’s OVO), see her fantastical illustrations and costume sketches HERE, and New York composer Matthew Pierce, who makes direct calls to the WB offices to speak with Webre directly about the latest compositions, count, and scene. A back and forth that is incredible to imagine, Pierce’s strong relationship with the Company enables him to infuse his music with notes and sounds that speak specifically to certain characters in the ballet. A classically-based ballet, with hints of blues and strings to give it that contemporary edge.
“Even after working with Liz on numerous projects, I am continuously amazed by her imagination, wit and the jaw-dropping beauty of her costumes,” artistic director Septime Webre stated in a recent release. “Her aesthetic combined with the most forward use of fabric technologies produces costumes that pack a wallop. It is Liz’s inventive one-two punch (wit and fashion aesthetic) that allows our combined creativity to nourish and inspire each other.” (via)
Get lost in Alice’s Wonderland with a troupe of flamingos, Cheshire cats, and the Mad Hatter. Make sure to get your fill of all things Alice (in Wonderland!). TICKETS AVAILABLE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. ++PAINT THE TOWN RED AT THE WASHINGTON BALLET’S ALICE IN WONDERLAND BALL, THURSDAY APRIL 26, 2012. “Alice” runs April 11 through 15 at the Kennedy Center‘s Eisenhower Theater. Tickets go for $20 to $120.