Alberta Ballet returns with a quirky Alice in Wonderland

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Once again Alberta Ballet pirouettes into its third remake of in-house choreographer Edmund Stripe’s whimsical Alice in Wonderland.

Running March 24 and 25 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, this hallucinogenic fairy tale takes Alice on a magical journey as she tumbles down the rabbit hole into a world of enchanted dreams.

Staying true to Lewis Carroll’s plot, Stripe choreographed an abundance of delightful scenes including a perpetually late White Rabbit, a time riddled tea party and a fixed game of croquet with the tyrannical Queen of Hearts.

Margaret Dalwood, instructor for the School of Alberta Ballet Edmonton Studio, explains that this version has changed very little from the 2006 and 2009 versions.

“There’s a new set of dancers of course. The essence wouldn’t change, but it’s been slightly adapted to the dancers who you work with. Each dancer has a different personality,” said Dalwood.

The St. Albert resident is rehearsing two students from the Edmonton school to play Hedgehog (Liam Montgomery, 7) and the first Little Rabbit (Jessica Zhang, 8) Alice spies and follows into Wonderland.

The school instructs up to 160 students in any given year.

“The selection of students for Alice is based on age, whether they fit the costume, personal ability, musicality and theatricality. Having a young child go on the Jubilee Auditorium stage without being frightened and hesitant is important. We also like to spread the roles around depending on the needs and requirements of a ballet,” Dalwood said.

While the two junior dancers are nimble and pliable, the greatest challenge during rehearsal will be integrating them into the full cast that arrives from Calgary next week.

Dalwood officially returned to the organization three years ago. She originally worked closely with Dr. Ruth Carse, who planted the organization’s roots in 1958 as an amateur troupe under the name of Dance Interlude.

It was officially incorporated as Edmonton Ballet in 1961 before taking its official designation in 1966 as Alberta Ballet.

After the company’s controversial move to Calgary to merge with the struggling Calgary City Ballet, Dalwood remained in the capital city and opened Cecchetti Dance Theatre.

Through the decades Alberta Ballet slowly built a world-class reputation and fired the imagination of balletomanes for its portrait ballets – collaborations with popular icons such as Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Sarah McLachlan and k.d. lang.

Three years ago, the company opened a school and training ground for young dancers in Edmonton and Dalwood was invited to join.

“What’s really nice about Alice in Wonderland is that you can bring the whole family. It’s an all-ages show. It reminds me of Nutcracker. For small children there is a story and comedy and for those who want to see classical ballet, it’s a beautiful ballet.”

Preview

Alice in Wonderland
Alberta Ballet
March 24 and 25
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
11455 – 87 Ave.
Tickets: $33 to $124 Call 780-428-6839 or 1-844-355-9494 or at albertaballet50.com

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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.