I absolutely adore the story of Alice in Wonderland. It is my favorite Disney film and the books are quite enjoyable. When Austin Ballet announced their upcoming season, I purchased tickets for their mother’s day show immediately.
I think this is where the production shined its brightest. Liz Vandal carried much of the story through the costume designs. The brightly colored costume of the mad hatter was perfectly eccentric while the clock pattern on the white rabbit was the perfect subtle touch to the character. While the children’s flower costumes reminded me of a school play, I thought the card costumes for both the children and the adults were creative and spectacularly executed.
The sets were strongest at the start of the performance and slowly dwindled as the show continued on. While the costumes continued to provide a lot of context, I found the sets too sparse for my taste.
There were a number of interesting movements capturing flare and style bring the ballet a more modern feel. I felt the flipping and tossing of the ballerinas by their male partners was particularly fluid and graceful. My favorite performance was the caterpillar. I found it unique and completely complimented by the next item…
The score was not one I’m familiar with, but it had shining moments. The caterpillar’s song was my favorite, but the theme of mystery that often accompanied Alice evoked that feeling of being a bit lost in a strange environment so well.
From the ballets I’ve seen taking on a more modern storytelling aspect, pacing seems to be the hardest thing to get right. The first two parts of Act I were very theatrical– entertainingly so! But when the story approached the Dodo bird and the dance he leads to dry everyone off (as they’re soaked from Alice’s tears), the production hit this moment of “dance! dance! dance! everyone dance!’ Each group or dancer was given their moment to shine. It stops the storytelling and I feel as though I am in the audience of a recital and everyone is taking turns showing off their pirouettes. As a viewer, I would have liked to see some of the shining moments spread to the earlier parts of the act. The rest of the show
The Delightful Moments
More than any ballet I’ve seen, this one has moments of pure delight. Alice hung in the air while the tweedle twins rode by her on a floating bicycle. And when she ate that cake to grow too tall, she grew larger and larger only to have little feet on pointe appear below her dress! The entire audience let out a laugh.