Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: The Gala Diaries
A glimpse behind the scenes at the premiere.
We are Emilia and Linda from The Ballet Bag and we covered the premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, at the Royal Opera House. In addition to live tweeting #AliceinTwitterland we have, in this blog post, a play-by-play of our own adventures backstage and front of the house, mingling with gala guests at the Floral Hall:
17:30 - we arrive at the Royal Opera House in our gala gear and we are led straight to the backstage area, where we catch a glimpse of props, projections and Bob Crowley’s wonderful set designs:
17:45 – we are now close to the ballet studios where we bump into some of the dancers who are performing tonight. They seem very relaxed and are happy to chat to us about their roles and expectations:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland starts with Alice’s mother hosting a tea party in her garden. One by one her guests arrive: Lewis Carroll, a magician, a Rajah, the Duchess. Each will later return as the absurd characters from Alice’s wonderland. Steven McRae, who plays the “crazy” tapping Mad Hatter, tells us he’s “feeling excited and can’t wait to hear how the audience reacts.” He hopes the ballet gets “all the recognition it deserves”.
Edward Watson is getting ready for “lots of costume changes”. He’s Lewis Carroll to start with and as the garden party unfolds he gradually morphs into the time-obsessed White Rabbit. We are promised lots of “fast solos”.
Ryoichi Hirano is looking forward to wearing his “huge wig” as a rooster in the Caucus Race. “On stage tonight it’s going to be so good, with lots of laughs”. He thinks Joby Talbot’s music “is absolutely fantastic”.
17:50 - We look in vain for leading lady Lauren Cuthbertson (Alice) but on our way out we bump into her character’s love interest, the Knave of Hearts. For Sergei Polunin a new ballet is “a lot of pressure but it’s so special having a role created on you”; as for dancing with Lauren “it’s just absolute joy and a lot of fun”.
18:30 – After a brief pause backstage to update #AliceinTwitterland, we are on our way to the makeup room to check on Steven McRae and Eric Underwood as they are being turned, respectively, into Magician/Mad Hatter and Rajah/Caterpillar. Check out Steven’s shocking pink wig:
18:45 – 19: 30 - We are now audience-watching at the Floral Hall. We were very curious as to how tonight’s fashions would play out and it’s great to see so much style and diversity in the house. We ask some of the guests to tell us something about their look and which character they are rooting for tonight – take a look.
20:45 – During the interval we catch up briefly with choreographer Chris Wheeldon. Very elegant in Paul Smith, Chris is pleased with the audience’s roaring response.
Before we dash back to the auditorium for more Adventures in Wonderland we send some tweet updates and capture the beautiful Alice-inspired decors, Flamingoes everywhere! We have been tweeting & twitpic-ing so much our phones are fast running out of battery.
22:45 – The gala ends with a very enthusiastic cheer from the audience and a flower throw for Chris and his dancers. It’s time to go home and recharge those batteries!
About the Author:
The Ballet Bag is an online resource for the best of ballet around the web: performances, companies, dancers, interviews and other websites. With the aim to “Give Ballet a New Spin” and make it more accessible, editors Emilia and Linda write dance content, mashing it up with pop culture. They use social media to network with dance fans, companies, performers, writers, bloggers, etc. sharing what’s good, fun and interesting in the balletsphere.