Alice's Adventures In Wonderland

Rebecca Varidel
5th Feb 2017

2017 is set to be a wonderful year for the dance. Across both contemporary and classical many new works will be performed in Sydney. Not least of these we are excited to say is the first Australian performances of ballet blockbuster Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland©.

Created by one of the world’s greatest living choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, this spectacular ballet translates the wit and charm of the original tale by Lewis Carroll into a world of colour, fun and fantasy. Extraordinary choreography, a wildly imaginative set and inventive costumes will transport audiences into a world of absurdity and pure wonder. The Australian Ballet presents Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© in Melbourne from September 12th to 30th before taking the production to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre from December 5th to 22nd.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© was created by Wheeldon on The Royal Ballet in 2011, and has since enthralled audiences the world over. Arguably the world’s highest profile contemporary choreographer, Wheeldon is best known in Australia for cutting-edge works like After the Rain© and the rapid-fire DGV©: Danse a grande vitesse. In this highly entertaining work, he reimagines the beloved storybook classic using ballet’s traditional structures, interspersed with dramatic twists and comedic turns for a modern edge.  

Designer Bob Crowley’s thrillingly creative sets and costumes establish a new standard for stage design. The magical world of Wonderland and its absurd and fantastical inhabitants are brought to life through puppetry, optical illusion, immersive digital projections, countless wigs, masks and intricately detailed and vibrant costumes. Highlights of the design include an eerily disembodied grinning Cheshire Cat puppet manipulated by six dancers, and a sensuous indigo Caterpillar with eight pairs of bejewelled pointe shoe-clad feet.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© will be the fifth work Christopher Wheeldon has staged for The Australian Ballet. “The Australian Ballet’s dancers are a perfect combination of athletes and artists. Their style is dynamic and visceral. They are daring and expressive, sensitive and technical. Above all, though, they have great humanity. This generosity spills out of the studio and onto the stage and can be felt by their audiences,” Wheeldon says. 

The award-winning choreographer sums up the classic tale as a hero's journey. “Alice tumbles down the rabbit hole and follows the Knave to try to clear his name. In the end, she rightfully stands up to the Queen of Hearts and takes the fall for stealing the tart. She is an honest girl who believes in the truth. She also discovers love for the first time which makes it both a coming of age story, as well as a whimsical journey of great adventures and discovery.”  

Commissioned especially, Joby Talbot’s theatrical score sweeps the action along and reflects Alice’s responses to the strange events unfolding. All the romance and theatricality of a 19th-century ballet combine with more contemporary sounds, to create a witty and melodic score. 

“Alice's journey is quite a rollercoaster ride. She shrinks, grows, nearly drowns, is threatened with capital punishment, and rescues a baby from the cooking pot. All these adventures have to be expressed musically and I have used every trick I can think of to chart her extraordinary adventures,” adds Joby Talbot.

The Australian Ballet’s Music Director and Chief Conductor Nicolette Fraillon, says Talbot’s score is regarded as one of the finest full-length pieces ever created for ballet. “This score is brilliant theatre, with incredibly creative use of colour. It is a work of real genius, and I don't use the word lightly. From the moment it starts until its end, this score is absolutely Wonderland,” explains Fraillon.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland© will be performed by the Australian Ballet with the Australian Ballet and Opera Orchestra throughout December at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets across the full 2017 season for the Australian Ballet are on sale now.