OK, so perhaps the average person would think twice before following a white rabbit down an unknown hole, and there’s Lewis Carroll’s iconic book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to thank for that.
In this classic tale, Alexander Van Alstyne, executive director at A.V.A. Ballet Theater, saw something he wanted to bring to the stage.
“Alice in Wonderland,” a full hour-and-a-half ballet performance, will be showing Saturday and Sunday at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, marking the story’s first performance in Nevada, Alstyne said.
“I love the story of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ “ Alstyne said, before adding with a laugh, “It’s crazy like me.”
Crazy, indeed. For one girl to meet a whole array of odd characters like the Mad Hatter and a garden of magical living flowers, all the while changing sizes and running from the Queen of Hearts, it’s enough to excite and exhaust any reader, let alone a choreographer adapting it.
“It’s a really fun story,” Alstyne said, a point he wanted to come across in the dancing itself when he was choreographing the play. “The choreography is interesting with really strong moves.”
Of course, costumes were emphasized as well, Alstyne said, to add more flair to an already enchanting story. With a cast of more than 60 dancers, all costumes were handmade by Stephanie Legoy and the set was built by none other than the dancer who plays the Mad Hatter, Bruce Lundstrom.
As for the girl who really runs the show, Alice, or in this case local dancer Eve Allen, there is much to be said about playing a most inquisitive 7-year-old girl lost in another world.
“I did a lot of research for this character,” Allen said, who has been ballet dancing since the age of 3. “What’s interesting is that she’s 7 years old, although she doesn’t talk like a 7-year-old might. My mom has always called me an old soul because I always liked hanging out with grown ups. So I feel like I can relate to her a little.”
Alice’s age, Allen admits, did throw her off a bit, although attracted her to the part even more.
“I thought I would enjoy playing a little girl,” Allen said. “I’ve never played someone this age and I think trying to balance the fact that she’s 7 but also a mature girl that isn’t afraid that she’s in Wonderland alone has been challenging, but fun.”
Allen also noted that the performance is packed with plenty of the favorite characters from the book, making for a whirlwind experience on stage.
“You never know what character you’re going to see next,” Allen said.
Alstyne echoed Allen’s sentiments, acknowledging that while some inevitable adaptations had been made to the storyline for performance sake, the adventure is very much still there.
“It’s very family-oriented,” Alstyne said. “And it’s really out there.”
Accompanying the dancers will be the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, playing a musical score by Joseph Horovitz. Three principal dancers from the dance company Ballet West in Salt Lake City will also be dancing alongside the primarily local cast.
The show begins Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts box office or online at www.pioneercenter.com. Tickets are $25, $36 and $40 depending on the section.