Friday, 4 March 2011

Alice is a Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Royal Ballet – Reviewed on 3rd March 2011

This week was the premiere of the Royal Ballet’s first new full-length work in 15 years. Christopher Wheeldon’s creation has been eagerly anticipated and taken more than 12 months to complete. With fabulous costumes and sets by Bob Crowley, Alice was an endless stream of surprises – truly curioser and curioser. A newly commissioned score by Joby Talbot was magical, twinkly and perfectly suited to Lewis Carroll’s enchanting tale. But the choreography itself, which should have been the centrepiece, did not shine as brightly as the production’s other elements.
Photo: Johan Persson, courtesey of ROH
Some moments were wonderful. The caterpillar, danced with fluid brilliance by Eric Underwood, was enthralling. The Mad Hatter’s tea party saw Steven McRae perform a sparkling tap dance surrounded by oversized cakes including a trampoline of a Victoria sponge. And the Queen of Hearts (Tamara Rojo) pas de cinq with four knaves was a hilarious parody of the famous Sleeping Beauty Rose Adage.
But the overall feeling in the production was that dancing took a backseat. Wheeldon allowed Alice’s fantasy to be created not through his choreographed movement but through costumes, set and visual effects, which although fantastic in this case, do not make a ballet.
The Royal Ballet danced well. The corps were especially notable and performed with unity and cohesion. Sarah Lamb, second cast as Alice, danced lyrically but was unremarkable. It was Tamara Rojo with her wicked, funny and powerful Queen that stole the show.
Any attempt to create a full-length ballet is deserving of high praise, and Wheeldon has made a work that is worth viewing. But is it a lasting classic? I think not. The plot of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is all too complicated and scenes feel disjointed. And a ballet that stands the test of time needs high quality choreography throughout, which unfortunately is not present here.

1 comment:

  1. This makes me really want to try to see the show...! Julia