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Alice in Wonderland?


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#1 Guest_TutuGirly_*

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Posted 29 November 2002 - 08:23 AM

Hi!
I was just curious if anyone has ever performed or seen the ballet "Alice in Wonderland" aka "Through the Looking Glass". If you have ever performed in it, please let me know the role you had. Thanks!:)

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 29 November 2002 - 10:27 AM

There is no worldwide standard ballet of either Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass. The nearest thing was a piece done years ago by the London Festival Ballet of three dances, "The Lobster Quadrille" being the only section that sticks in my mind. There have been various versions attempted by various choreographers, but no pre-eminent version has stuck to the world's fancy.

#3 glebb

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Posted 29 November 2002 - 09:29 PM

I've not seen but have heard of a version by Ruth Page.

I also recall seeing a short dance by Ashton with Leslie Collier as Alice. She danced with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 04:24 AM

I think you're right about Ruth Page, glebb.

And the Ashton vignette was set to Percy Aldridge Granger's "Country Gardens", really an ideal composer for that sort of a ballet. Now all we need is a genius of Ashton's stature to fill in all the missing bits EXCEPT a pas de trois for Alice and Tweedledee and Tweedledum.;)

#5 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 04:43 AM

ruth page's version was shall we say interesting. the score was by so many composers that i can't even begin to list them. at the beginning i recall children playing games on a lawn and the children were using their own voices, shouting and playing. alice falls down the hole (and i can't recall how that happened) and into a hall of carnival-type mirrors. no music, just "Alice's" (from the pit) voice, lip-synched by the dancer, some of which was "I look so funny, I look so fat! I'm not fat!" and at another mirror, "I like this one much better, I look SO slender!". maniacal laughter (not from Alice) and great big pots and pans descend from the sky. the duchess and the cook (who for some reason i remember on pointe but i'm not sure) with the baby sing (again from the pit) a version of "speak roughly to your little boy and beat him when he sneezes, he only does it to annoy because he knows it teases' with the accompaniment of crying baby noises. the music then goes into a scott joplin rag (not sure which one) and they dance, while alice finally successfully retrieves the baby from the duchess. at the end of this the duchess and cook exit, stage left (!) and alice is left holding the baby. she unwraps the blanket it is in and uncovers a toy pig which has wheels on its feet and horrified, puts it on the ground and pushes it to make it roll away, all the while exclaiming (from thepit) "IT'S A PIG!"
now there's a lot lot more but recall i haven't seen it since 1977, though some public television station in ohio or something did a version which was somewhat truncated i think, with poor katharine healy having to do duty as alice. alice meets tweedledum and tweedledee, who are bearded twins with cutoff tops and shorts who do a soft-shoe to 'pretty baby', there is a lobster quadrille presided over, i think, by the red queen, who is depicted later as a dancer on the shoulders of someone on stilts, who later has a scene (hardly a dance) with someone as the white queen to the strains of the jazzed-up version of beethoven's fifth symphony (remember that?). the caterpillar smokes opium and slithers about the stage to that piece of music whose title i can't remember which is very languid but i just can't remember the title, she goes into the garden where there is actually a pretty piece of music by isaac van grove for a pas de deux for tiger lily and passion flower which was shown in the 'ruth page an american original' documentary in 1979 with starr danias and john meehan. the flowers dance to i think a waltz by delibes. oh i forgot the unicycling juggler who plays the mad hatter.
in act two (!) alice goes on a journey into the zodiac, where of course she meets all the signs, does a pas de deux with an astronaut to the strains of rubinstein's 'melody in f' and after all this does end up back home but darned if i can remember how!!!!!!!!!!!!
first cast in about 1969 or 1970 was joyce cuoco, where parts of this were done at jacob's pillow. in 1977 i saw svea eklof.
(how's that?)

#6 Tancos

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 08:12 AM

I've never seen a balletic version of Carroll's books and I don't want to. Much of the pleasure of the Alice stories lies in Carroll's peculiar combination of whimsey, satire and remorseless logic. Unless the choreographer has a mind as rigorous as Carroll's, all that is likely to survive translation to the stage is the silliness.

#7 Perfect Performer

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 12:08 PM

I Guess you could say I was in Alice in Wonderland. You see, My school did a "Storybook Ballet." They just had little dances from stories, Like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella and a few others. But one of them was Alice with the Queen of Hearts and her cards. I Played a card. It was a lot of fun to do. Since we were supposed to be strange, We didn't have to worry about turnout and pointing our toes.

#8 Old Fashioned

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 12:58 PM

Ben Stevenson has an Alice in Wonderland production that premiered in 1992 and will be staged by HB again for this season. Ann Holmes, a Houston Chronicle critic, described it as "a mad, magical night of boisterous fun…The ballet is a witty, wacky, sometimes lovely mix of dance and musical comedy!" His Alice has also entered the repertoires of Ballet West, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Atlanta Ballet.

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 01:42 PM

Sounds like it might be getting there in the way of being a standard. Now all it needs is an intercontinental staging, and it might make it as THE version of Alice.

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 02:20 PM

Now there's an interesting quesiton. If a ballet gets picked up by 5 or 6 companies does it, ipso facto, become an international standard? I'm thinking of Stevenson's "Cinderella" which has been staged by more companies than any other version (last press release I read it was 25). But there is an argument could be, and has often been, raised that this is because it's comparatively simple (compared to the Ashton or the Kirov versions). An aside, of course, but I thought it worth raising :)

I think there are a lot of Alice ballets danced by small companies around the country in the spring -- and Tetley did one, too, for NBoC, I think.

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 05:14 PM

Right on the Tetley Alice, Alexandra! But it was as much, as far as story goes, about Charles Dodgsdon's sexual ambiguity and possible pedophilia and his relationship with Alice Hargreaves as it was about Alice in Wonderland.

The question of whether a ballet's profusion into the world market is a good one. I, for one, wouldn't consider Stevenson's Cinderella as a world standard, simply because it seems like watered-down Ashton. The latter seems the "gold standard" by which others are judged, and a good thing, too! Keeps quality standards up!:)

I pulled out some reference materials on the music, and realize now that the score to Stevenson's Alice is by Joseph Horovitz, which has to be the most widespread SCORE for this ballet used today. Several different productions are current in England, and the original had been set for Coronation Season in 1953 by Michael Charnley, who hasn't been heard from in ages. Originally treating the complete story, the year after it opened, it was chopped to three episodes, and presented as a separate divertissement by the then London Festival Ballet.

#12 Guest_TutuGirly_*

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 06:13 PM

Thank you all so much for your informative responses!

#13 Dale

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Posted 30 November 2002 - 07:33 PM

New York Theatre Ballet does an Alice in Wonderland and will be performed in 2003.

http://www.nytb.org/aliceframeset.html


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