Alice (in La La Land) takes us on a heady trip
Based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass – the ballet turned out to be more of a family road trip right out of a Chevy Chase movie. Lots of drama, adventure, laughter, childish pranks, and crazy antics kept both young and old delighted throughout the two act show. Add to this eclectic work a bevy of pink flamingos a la Busby Berkeley; a flying dragon who keeps trying to bite Alice; a nutty professor who bungles everything around him; and perky piglets, the children at the Washington Ballet School, all rolling around the floor and through the legs of other strange characters.
As expected, the first act centers around tiny Alice who flies across the stage, thanks to the folks from Foy, and joins the White Rabbit in pleasant dance variations. A puppet Alice dangles above the stage, doors grow and shrink, and Alice tries to squeeze through one of them, to the delight of the youngsters in the audience. The surprise, however, comes with the appearance of a drug-induced Caterpillar who shows no interest in childish gimmicks. Her seduction is powerful and intense, influenced (as we learned at the post-show party) by Webre’s visit to a hookah bar in Turkey where the company performed last summer.
In the second act (a more traditional take on classical ballet), some of the leading characters are upstaged by a dancing card, a young boy who managed to pull off five beats of his feet in the air before landing gracefully. The music rips for the playing card ballet when the entire stage is filled with dozens of colorful characters. It ends as it begins with Alice alone on a living room couch, bathed in gentle blue lighting.
There’s a lot riding on this Alice as the season’s grandest production. Certainly the ballet is an unforgettable journey down the Rabbit Hole and should be seen at least twice. Let’s hope it becomes part of the Washington Ballet’s repertory, perhaps an alternative to Webre’s other children’s fantasy, The Nutcracker.
Running Time: Two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.