All in the golden afternoon full leisurely we glide; for both our oars, with little skill, by little arms are plied, while little hands make vain pretense our wanderings to guide.
Full leisurely we glide! Septime Webre brings us deeper and deeper into The Washington Ballet’s WORLD PREMIERE BALLET ALICE (in Wonderland)! An adventure beyond the average adaptation or story ballet, there was something special happening at the Kennedy Center last Friday night. Maybe it was the fact that I was running late (!) and felt fittingly like I was already slipping deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole…into Wonderland and, even further, into an artistic milieu of creative expertise (to include a Corps de Flamingos, Advice from a Caterpillar, and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party).
The Washington Ballet filled the Kennedy Center’s with a raucous buzz ALL last week as children, dancers, and adults-alike (yes, DC gents, it IS wayyy cool to take your ladies to the Kennedy Center on a Friday night!) ventured out to see this highly anticipated premiere. To add to the commotion, ALICE already received accolades for its WONDROUS collaboration with designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soliel’s OVO), with articles previously released featuring the awe-inspiring illustrations of Vandal’s ALICE costumes (prior to their taking life on the stage). New York composer Matthew Pierce takes the classically-based ballet to a new levels with his blues-inspired strings and character-specific melodies, which bring a familiarity and depth to the performance as well as a contemporary edge to the score.
Maybe its the curious creatures that Carroll conjures up or vivid absurdities that make Wonderland wonderland? All the subtle parallels that bring Alice to life are present in Webre’s production, a visually stunning and highly re-imagined tale of Alice’s adventures with a twist of classical ballet to keep you on your toes (pun intended). There is something about Lewis Carroll and Alice that invites excitement and intrigue AND Webre capitalizes on this energy; he conjures a creativity and excitement throughout the ballet, with astonishing performances that draw attention to the innovative relationship shared between Webre, Vandal and Pierce. “It is Liz’s inventive one-two punch (wit and fashion aesthetic) that allows our combined creativity to nourish and inspire each other,” Webre says of the fantastically creative Vandal. At one point, for example, Alice towers above the audience having grown very very tall, hanging by wires as high as 30 feet above the stage.
Precocious Alice was danced by an equally precocious Maki Onuki, of Yokohama, Japan. In her eighth season with The Washington Ballet, Maki dawned a blonde bob (note: the blunt bang popularized across the catwalk last winter) for her role as Webre’s Alice. With outstanding performances from a notably male-dominant cast: the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter, just to name a few…Maki sets herself apart from her male counterparts with charming wit and quiet strength, delivering a more intimate portrayal of ALICE (with nuanced movements that underscore a likely classical foundation) and imbue her and her character with an indelible charm. Principle dancers and leading male characters, Jared Nelson as the Mad Hatter and Brooklyn Mack as the Dodo Bird (featured in Dance Magazine’s “2012: 25 to Watch”) highlight Webre’s troupe of athletic male dancers with their strong performances throughout, partnering with Maki or performing tour de force individually.
The Washington Ballet’s ALICE (in Wonderland)! was truly remarkable. It’s hard not to love anything Alice! But Webre’s “revolutionary vision” WAS particularly remarkable for bringing together so much innovation, creativity, and passionate people. ALICE reinforces The Washington Ballet as one of the nation’s top professional ballet companies, leading the District and the country in innovation and the arts.
MORE BEHIND-THE-SCENES FOOTAGE RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW WITH BYT + TWB. PLUSSS, GET SEDUCED BY TWB NEXT SEASON!!! WITH SEDUCTION, 2012.2013. To include a world premiere ballet”Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises” runs May 9 -13, 2012 at the Kennedy Center‘s Eisenhower Theater. Plenty of time to catch up on your American lit! Til then, thankssss and enjoy the ballet!!!