“Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
National Ballet of Canada
David H. Koch Theater
New York, New York
September 9, 2014
by Michael Popkin
copyright © 2014 by Michael Popkin
There’s a saying that “a camel is a horse designed by a committee." During the first two acts of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” (a joint 2011 production by Britain’s Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada that was first seen here last week), this saying came to mind. The ballet is a collaboration among Wheeldon, composer Joby Talbot, designer Bob Crowley and lighting designer Natasha Katz, with a scenario by Nicholas Wright. A production design by Jon Driscoll and Gemma Carrington is also credited. The parts contributed by each were brilliant, but the whole was at times barely intelligible, particularly during act one. Dance, character and the story itself became mere afterthoughts in a Cirque de Soleil-style experience, on which level alone did the work succeed. While an unexpectedly brilliant third act restored a sense of structure and proportion to the spectacle, providing even a moment of grandeur, it happened too late.
Greta Hodgkinson and Jillian Vanstone of the National Ballet of Canada in "Alice." Photo © Cylia von Tidemann