Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland arrived on the stage in 2011 with a burst of colour, theatrical magic and inventive choreography. Joby Talbot's score combines sweeping melodies, which gesture to ballet scores of the 19th century, with contemporary effects. Bob Crowley's wildly imaginative sets and costumes draw on puppetry, projections and masks to bring Wonderland to life. Alice encounters a cast of extraordinary characters down the rabbit hole: from the highly-strung Queen of Hearts, who performs a hilarious rendition of the famous Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty; to dancing playing cards; a sinuous caterpillar and a tap-dancing Mad Hatter. There is a love narrative for Alice and the Knave of Hearts, and they dance a tender pas de deux at the close of Act II. But the ballet does not avoid the darker undercurrents of Lewis Carroll's story -- a nightmarish kitchen, an eerily disembodied Cheshire Cat and an unhinged tea party are all created in vivid detail.

Learning Outcomes

  • To develop dance which includes motifs and unison sequences
  • To choose appropriate music to fit the style of dance
  • To work collaboratively in small groups.

Warm Up

In pupils’ own space they pretend they are trees swaying gently in the wind, then move with a stronger breeze, move on to a whirlwind.

Think about the facial expressions that would match with each type of weather.

 

Activity

Next in groups of 6 to 8, get the children to create a motif of a tree, using each other to balance-everyone must be touching someone. They must be able to hold their position for 30 seconds. Some could be roots, or branches-encourage them to be creative in their thinking. Share ideas. Once everyone has shown their motif give time for them to improve; they can ‘magpie’ ideas from other groups. Run through again. Next start piecing the dance together. Start as a group of 4, and think about how to travel to their ‘tree’ groups. As the White Rabbit is in such a rush this should be rapid travelling, looking at watches as they are moving across the space. Encourage travelling at different heights, low/high, spinning, leaping, turning. Get groups to form their trees in a circle on the stage/floor space to give the impression of one large tree. Explain that next we are going to perform a unison move-everyone doing the same thing at the same time. From their motifs move into a close circle they are going to become the tree as the rabbit is falling through it. Maybe have one rabbit in the middle. Generate ideas from the pupils (they are usually the best!). Try to do 4-6 moves with a count of 8 for each one-if it fits the music. Once moves have been decided start from the beginning-quartet, travel, motif, unison. Repeat a few times making changes where needed.

Start position-decide on how the pupils are going to start/enter the stage. They could come from different directions to meet with their groups, or alternatively, they could have a position to hold still before the music starts. Try both and see which looks best. Rehearse this. Try a range of different music to see which one fits best. Use an iPad to film the performance so pupils can select the most effective music.

Reflect

Watch film in classroom. Focus on own performance initially, and then watch the whole dance. What needs improving? What is great?

 

Extensions

Write a poem about ‘trees’ using descriptive language: imagery, metaphors, similes, personification.