Queensland Ballet brought to life the epic adventure of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the story of a little Victorian girl who finds herself in a strange land. The modern ballet with its eclectic mix of music and some wonderfully choreographed dancing was a brilliant rendition of the classic tale.
The fun begins right from the start when the charming White Rabbit, red sneakers and all, skateboards repeatedly passed Alice until she chases him down the rabbit hole and into a wonderous land. Here she meets some weird and wonderful characters like the Mad Hatter and his crew who are up to crazy antics like stuffing Door Mouse into a teapot like it was the most normal thing. While, the Queen of Hearts would sporadically yell out “off with their heads” and do this weird walk where she’s bent backwards. Then there were other great characters who had the audience (including me) giggling and laughing out loud, like Walrus who clapped his back flippers and rolled around in the most amusing way, the pipe-smoking Caterpillar who in a blink of an eye turned into a butterfly and Humpty Dumpty who, yes you guessed it, fell off a wall and his broken eggshell was taken off stage on a stretcher. All the actors did a superb job of animating their characters and entertaining the QPAC audience. Surprisingly comedy and ballet go very well together.
The music created a chaotic and circus-like atmosphere with a bit of classical Flight of the Bumble Bee (Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov) and a bit of everything else from St. Louis Blues (W C Handy), Alexander’s Ragtime band (Irving Berlin), Tango and Polka from The Bolt Suite, Op. 27a to the Jamaican Rhumba (Arthur Benjamin). The choreography went hand-in-hand with the music and so there was minimal classical and mostly modern ballet. The White Rabbit even spiced it up with some crumping and the Mad Hatter moon walked onto the stage.
When Lewis Carroll published ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in 1865 it was deemed outrageous and full of nonsense. Nevertheless it was popular then and it’s still popular today. What child doesn’t love quirky characters in an even quirkier world, where it’s perfectly normal for a cat’s head to float bodiless in the air?
The set design was very simple with a couple of trees and checkerboard flooring and props, which emphasised the exceptional costumes. They were vivid, bright, colourful and as eccentric as their characters. If children walked in thinking ballet was all pink tutus, dancing on point to ‘boring’ classic music, I dare say they walked out with a revived sense of interest in ballet.