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Jane Simpson

RDB's Alice

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The RDB's production of Christopher Wheeldon's Alice opens at the beginning of December and they have just produced a short trailer  - this is presumably the first cast which is (I think) Ida Praetorius as Alice, Alban Lendorf as the White Rabbit, Gregory Dean as the Mad Hatter and Kizzy Matiakis as the Queen of Hearts. The Knave of Hearts doesn't appear but one would be not be surprised if he turned out to be Andreas Kaas.

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I wouldn't be surprised, if the Knave turned out to be Marcin Kupinski, either... He and Praetorius have been partners just as often as Kaas and Praetorius.


I'm really looking forward to Alice. It's a performance I'm not at all familiar with, I've still only seen clips on YouTube. My parents, my girlfriend and I are seeing the afternoon performance on the 17th, I'm sure it'll be a wonderful show fit for the holidays with lots of child-like wonder. Also, I'm just so amazingly happy that Kizzy Matiakis got Queen of Hearts, I'm sure she'll be terrific!

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Cast lists are up on the homepage! We're catching Ida Praetorius as Alice and Marcin Kupinski as the White Rabbit with Kizzy Matiakis as the Red Queen - awesome! 

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You have to go through the performances one by one to discover the various casts, so to save anyone the time, there are 4 casts (with one or 2 variations) - in the order Alice/White Rabbit/Jack/Queen of Hearts/Mad Hatter they are










Bozinoff covers for Lendorf late in the run, and Crandall gets a Queen of Hearts in the Baldwin cast


Grinder as the Queen of Hearts! - that could be a collector's item. I'd guess both Andersen and Dean will make brilliant Mad Hatters.

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On 19. november 2016 at 5:23 PM, Jane Simpson said:

Grinder as the Queen of Hearts! - that could be a collector's item. 


I agree 100 percent, I'd give my right hand to see her in that role.


Other than that, I'll be catching the Praetorius/Kaas cast on the 17th and the Dorger/Dean cast on the 18th and I'm really looking forward to both.

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Picture gallery is up, once again without naming the dancers and in those costumes, it can be hard telling them apart, but generally I think they're really nice pictures - I was especially fond of a picture of Jon Axel Fransson's White Rabbit, amazing facial expressions. 

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Did anyone attend the premiere yesterday? General consensus on Instagram seems to be a big success! I won't be seeing the production myself until next Sunday, so I'm excited to hear what people thought, if they went!

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On my way home from RDB's Alice. I don't really consider myself a huge fan of the ballet, but after tonight I still find myself looking forward to two more visits to Wonderland. 


I caught the fourth cast with J'aime Crandall, Jonathan Chmelensky, Jon Axel Fransson and Susanne Grinder in the main roles. It was a well-oiled cast with quite a lot of beautiful character work going for them. 


Crandall aced the "little girl" aspect of Alice and created a nuanced, quirky character with lots of amazingly funny moments. Especially her first act was strong on comedy. Throughout her dancing was very smooth and looked its usual flawless self to me which was nice. Her interaction with every other character on the stage was rich in detail and you never lost sight of the girl she was portraying, in the midst of special effects and spectacle. Especially her chemistry with Chmelensky's Jack was touching and sweet, never creepy, Alice's age considered. 


I loved Chmelensky as Jack and thought he brought out an extra dimension to an otherwise rather flat character. He had a wonderful, endearing smile on his face as soon as Crandall was around, but covered the full range in expressions otherwise. He danced well, partnered Crandall with only one obviously wobbly lift and his solo in the court scene was remarkable. He's one of my favourite men in the company right now and he really did this role justice. 


Fransson as the White Rabbit was a real treat, it was wonderful to see him back from his injury. His dancing was good, but what really sold me on his Rabbit was how sympathetic and warm a character he made of him. He liked Alice. Felt a connection to her, a responsibility for her. When she did her little acts of kindness, it softened him visibly. It was a very lovely interpretation of their relation and it worked between Crandall and him. 


As the Mad Hatter, Gregory Dean seemed slightly pale. His dancing didn't all-over burn through the way it usually does when he dances ballet, but his expressions were perfect and he poured a lot of strength into distinguishing his character's madness and made him very funny. His final solo in the teapot scene was also really good and drew out a spontaneous applause from an otherwise rather quiet audience. 


Sebastian Haynes was amazing as the caterpillar. Very sensual and mysterious. His dancing was languid and sort of... outdrawn. His makeup with the beard also really suited him and he had a rather mature air about him. 


Kaledora Fontana danced the cook and was absolutely spectacular. She was manic and frantic, rather violent and scary, too. People seemed to love her. I was very impressed with her and thought it was a stellar performance with lots of star power, forcefulness and humour. She had no problem going for ugly faces or being silly. 


Grinder as the Queen of Hearts was a masterpiece. She was all smiles and sudden mood changes. She wasn't the typical bitch, but she definitely made it work. Her Queen ruled by emotional manipulation and by others' fear of her whims. As the mother she enjoyed the attention of everybody else but her husband and her Queen was much the same. She wasn't overtly irritated with him or constantly mean to him, but she obviously didn't think he was enough for her. Her dancing in the tart adagio was elegant in its choreographed failure and hysterically funny, but her solo in the court scene was really what took the cake. I can't even describe it, she was just so full of energy and owned the stage in all her crazy. People loved her and so did I. 


All in all it was a solid, entertaining performance and I really fell for its charms. Very excited to see the Praetorius and Dorger casts next weekend. 

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Agree with everything Syrene wrote - additionally, I want to praise the orchestra. That partiture must be equal parts amazing and nerve-wrecking and to me, they nailed it tonight. Beautiful, atmospheric and emotional at the right times.  

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I've loved RDB the few times I've been able to see them, and I'm loving hearing about their performances from you :flowers:

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Dec. 17th - 5.00 pm. 


Saturday night I saw first cast in Alice, a cast made up of Ida Praetorius and Andreas Kaas as Alice and the Knave, Kizzy Matiakis as the Queen, Marcin Kupinski as the Rabbit, Charles Andersen as the Hatter, Sebastian Haynes as the Caterpillar and Alba Nadal as the Cook. 


Generally I thought the cast was well-matched and performing smoothly without incident, but the afternoon was - for me - also marked by a certain lack of interest in the two main characters, the real story seemingly revolving around the characters around them. The residents of Wonderland. 


The star of the night was, in my eyes, definitely Matiakis as the Queen of Hearts and Kupinski as the White Rabbit. Kupinski especially just took me by complete surprise and knocked my socks off. His dancing looked rapid and yet defined, very crisp, and his acting was amazing. From the balcony and despite the heavy makeup, his face and expressions read very clearly. His Rabbit was busy, focused and yet very swayed by Alice. He managed some very good partnering touches with Praetorius and in this you could tell they have danced together in technical heavy-weights like Don Q and Swan Lake. Some of the best partnering of the evening happened between these two.


Opposite of his good-natured Rabbit stands Matiakis' Queen who was pure evil. She was a colder and sharper Queen than Grinder's last Sunday and reminded me a lot of the one on the DVD from Royal Ballet. Constantly changing in mood and going from laughing to grimazing in the blink of an eye, her manic back and forth in attitude was really scary and well done. From the moment the third act started, it was Matiakis time with two well-performed solos where especially the tart adagio brought the house down, so funny was it. The entire party was danced well by Matiakis and she brought home all the points with her fluid and clear expressions. Also, she aced the cartwheel - smooth transition, superbly incorporated in the sequence. 


Andersen was an outstanding Hatter who stepdanced with some amazing strength and musicality. I did miss Dean's expressions a bit, but instead Andersen defined the Hatter's crazy through his movements and more than anything, his dancing became a language on its own. His interaction with his two partners in crime was great and a lot of fun to watch. I really loved the entire scene and so did the audience. What an applause he received after his final solo, so well executed. 


Haynes was in his zone as the Caterpillar last night. He danced smoothly and with a very defined, intense expression on his face the entire time. Did some languidly rolling movements and with very fluid transitions between. He was amazing. I just love watching him dance. 


As the Cook, Nadal wasn't an extreme in the same way Fontana was in the role, but she was still hilarious and both acted and danced with a hint of darkness that suited the character well and added depth to the humour. 


As the Knave, Kaas danced at his absolute best, especially in his solo variations. What power and force he dances with, yet how softly and smoothly he moves. However, his Knave somehow seemed less defined in character than Chmelensky's and thus, the character really proved itself one of the least developed in Wheeldon's heavy arsenal. 


As Alice Praetorius had some outstanding moments and some fun expressions, especially her racing scene with the animals was pure gold and so well executed that it didn't end up confusing the eye. The wow moment was at the court scene, however, where she offers herself instead of the Knave, that simple gesture was so powerful. Still, altogether I didn't think her dancing was at its best and especially the partnering in the two first acts looked a little difficult and surrounded by so many Wonderland characters, her Alice paled a little. 


Finally, shout-out to Tobias Praetorius and Liam Redhead as the fish and the frog where especially Redhead shone. Gigantic jumps and funny interaction for all it was worth.


A full afternoon in a great company. 


Dec. 18th - noon


The cast that graced the stage Sunday noon created the complete experience that really was the perfect Alice to end this run with for me. 


Holly Dorger was an amazing Alice who really held the stage and beyond great acting also conveyed Wheeldon's language of choreography to perfection from where I sat. Her dancing was at its finest, but more than anything it was the rounded, interesting and complex character that she created which left me mesmerized. Her Alice was spunky, temperamental, but also gentle and sensitive towards others. The link between Wonderland and her own reality never disappeared from sight, as Dorger expertly showed how Wonderland wasn't just wonderful, but at times also confusing and frightening. In her solos she was sharp and energetic, though I particularly loved the quieter, moving "who are you?" solo in... act II, I think? The one right after she longs for her sisters. Because Dorger truly added layers to Alice, she never stopped being a young girl, not in her relation to the Knave either, but she had depth and so many emotions, beautifully conveyed in acting and dance. It's difficult to choose anything in particular, because it was all so incredibly well executed, but I thought her garden party scene in act I was well-tied together by Dorger's presence and probably the most coherent one I've seen yet.


Besides that I need to comment on how well matched Gregory Dean was as the Knave opposite Dorger's Alice. Not just dancing-wise where they were well-suited for each other, with the same rounded and warm air, but his boyish and gentle Knave fit her portrayal of Alice like a glove. I really loved them together and hope to see them dance together again in the future. Their PDDs were smoothly danced and the lifts generally felt like a breeze for Dean who seems a strong partner to have. 


Solo he was also perfect for the role, making the Knave very princely and sweet, without rendering him boring. Dean really has presence when dancing and his solo during the flower waltz was out of this world. Altogether the Knave still isn't the most interesting danseur role, but I'll take him over the Cavalier any day - and Dean made him likeable and managed to make sense of the PDD's like none of the other casts I've seen. Suddenly the way the Knave pulled Alice by the waist while she bent over made sense to me, also due to Dorger's gorgeous arms. 


As the White Rabbit Jon Axel Fransson was truly in his element yesterday. Even more so than last Sunday. His interaction with Dorger's Alice was equal parts endearing and hilarious. He wasn't just sweet to her, but often genuinely annoyed and really too busy to take care of her. Their scene in the boat was amazing! But also in general Fransson had been generous with the details in his acting and although his dancing didn't look quite as sharp to me as Kupinski's, he danced with the same explosive energy that defined the entire cast and constantly moved with a sort of frenzy or stress. It was the perfect portrayal. 


With Amy Watson still out, J'aime Crandall - my beautiful first Alice - took on the role of Queen of Hearts. Her Queen was very different from both Grinder's and Matiakis', neither sharply smiling nor coldly evil, but she danced the Queen with a sassy attitude and an almost coquettish air about her, like she owned the room she was in and loved all the attention. More subdued in her expressions than the two other Queens, she wasn't as overtly funny as them, her comedic timing didn't always seem to sit with the audience, mostly - I think - because she was so fast in her movements, in her "delivery". However, I think especially her court scene solo was pretty amazing to watch and as soon as she started leaping around with the axe, her force and precision made her extremely scary. I really did like her Queen and thought she had some great moments, when the guards forgot her on her throne centre stage, her reaction was priceless. After Alice has tumbled over the entire deck, but the Queen managed to stay on her feet, her smugness was so funny. All minor details that made her a good, entertaining, if not the most outstanding Queen. 


Particular shout-outs otherwise to Alexander Bozinoff and Samuel Zaldivar as the fish and the frog, they were an amazing duo and really delivered sharp dancing and, from Zaldivar's frog, incredibly leaps, wow. Also to Haynes who, for the third time, delivered an intense caterpillar and to Charles Andersen who really had great interaction with Alexander Stæger and Tobias Praetorius as his sidekicks, but wasn't quite as sharp in his step dance as yesterday. However, I still found that the entire scene with the Mad Hatter was well-executed and made perfect sense in all its crazy, perhaps also because of Dorger's Alice and the way she interacted with the rest of the cast. 


Finally I need to mention Morten Eggert and Kizzy Matiakis as the Duchess and the Cook, they were a powerhouse of a combination where especially Eggert as the Duchess shone and gave the character a lot of life and likeability. I constantly found my eyes returning to her on the stage and in his interaction with Matiakis in the slaughterhouse scene, he portrayed her as genuinely scary, becoming gradually more sympathetic as the show progressed. 


All in all, a perfect way to spend the afternoon and initiate Christmas. I loved everone and everything about it. Just the full package of a performance. Bravo!

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The last RDB performance of Alice, for this season, was also Charles Andersen's last performance with the company before moving to Australia. He was dancing the Mad Hatter a role that would suit him to perfection, I imagine, and I remember him with pleasure as Harlequin in La Sonnambula, Marty in Night Shadow - but most of all as probably the best Lensky in my experience, dancing the solo before the duel with a romantic freedom I've never seen equalled.




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