This is a tremendously ambitious production by this small touring company of young dancers. Sometimes I felt they might be pushing a bit too hard, particularly in the darker aspects of the story, leaving some of the younger members of the audience who didn’t know the story a bit restless. However, there is much that is glorious, particularly the terrific dancing to folk melodies in the opening part and the courtly dancing near the end. The dancer in the role of the mermaid was excellent and I wish I could credit her but unfortunately they were not selling programmes on Sunday at my local theatre, the Beck in Hayes and her mermaid make up was so good that I can’t work out who she was from the pictures on their website. If it comes near you then please make sure that you see it and, if you are taking young children, do make sure they know the story before they go.
It might appear very brave of Christopher Moore, Ballet Theatre UK’s director, to take on the Royal Ballet in choreographing Lewis Carroll’s story, but the two productions could hardly be more different. The Royal Ballet are superb as one would expect but this is is a far more intimate and friendly production: I have never known so many young children be so quiet, enthralled from start to finish. The furthest seat in the Beck Theatre is closer to the stage than any in the ROH amphitheatre and it was only at the end that I realised that there were just 12 dancers in the company: they all work so hard and dance so many roles.
Apart from the central role of Alice (sorry I don’t have the name of the dancer), my favourite was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Unlike other productions which might feature the Mad Hatter, the March Hare or the Dormouse, the highlight of this was the dancing table itself, showing just how original this production is. Now touring, this is a terrific introduction to ballet for young children and very enjoyable for old folks like me too!
Ballet Theatre UK is a fairly new company of young dancers with big ambitions who have created and choreographed this ballet themselves – it’s pretty good too (better than most of these small touring companies).
The pre-recorded music is mainly orchestrated versions of traditional carols with appropriate classics (e.g. Dance Macabre for Marley’s ghost). It’s touring, so please see it when it comes near you (see http://www.ballettheatreuk.com/ for details). I saw it at the Beck Theatre, Hayes last Saturday.