The story, “Alice in Wonderland” is, indeed, full of wonder. It’s all about make believe, fantasy and good versus evil. To take the story, which can be hard enough to understand, and put it to dance, without any words, had to have been a real challenge. Synopsis notes in the program help but it is still quite a feat that Colorado Ballet was able to present a fantastical story, purely through movement, gestures, costumes and sets and still have it be understandable and very entertaining.
“Alice (in Wonderland)” plays at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, through February 28. The large cast, including groups of adorable and impressive younger and older children, fill the stage with colorful and whimsical costumes and massive sets, created primarily with hanging screens.
The storyline is recognizeable but the experience was difficult for the younger children in the audience. Without words, relying only on memories of what’s what and who’s who, it was difficult for kids to understand. With some costumes suggesting what the character or animal was versus out-and-out looking like a flamingo, for instance, kids need to use their think-outside-the-box imaginations, which is good. But it’s a bit too abstract for young ones. Also, some of the dance sequences go on quite a while. Those are the times when the younger kids around me got fidgety and asked to leave. Several families did not return after intermission for that reason, which is a shame. But older kids will be enchanted and will absolutely love the way things are interpretted, although abstract.
The scene with the caterpillar unfurling its wings as it becomes a butterfly is stunning and drew oooh’s and ahhhh’s from the audience. The young child dancers, first as little flamingo chicks and then as hedgehogs rolling through wickets brought awwwww’s from everyone including fellow children.
Colorado Ballet’s production of the classic story shows adults and kids how creative and exciting ballet can be. Just leave kids maybe 5 and younger home. They’ll understand it and love it soon enough.
For tickets to “Alice (in Wonderland),” visit www.coloradoballet.org.