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Watch: The Mad Hatters’ dance-off between The Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae and ZooNation’s Turbo

The Royal Ballet Principal and hip-hop dancer Turbo face off during the runs for their respective ROH productions.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

12 December 2014 at 10.56am | 6 Comments

Two Mad Hatters take to the stages of the Royal Opera House this festive season, in works inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. We couldn’t resist bringing together the two different versions of the same character  for a dance-off in full costume in front of an audience of 50 excited children from local school St Joseph’s Primary.

Royal Ballet Principal Steven McRae plays the tap-dancing Mad Hatter in The Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland this Christmas, while Turbo’s hip hop-styled Mad Hatter features in ZooNation’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The former production will be live in cinemas around the world on 16 December, while the latter will be live-streamed for free via YouTube and this website on 18 December.

The Royal Opera House YouTube channel recently reached 100,000 subscribers and is the most subscribed-to arts organization in the world.

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The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party ran from 30 December 2016—22 January 2017 at the Roundhouse.

The production was staged with generous philanthropic support from Mrs Lily Safra, The Paul Hamlyn Education Fund, The Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Foundation, The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.


By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

12 December 2014 at 10.56am

This article has been categorised Dance and tagged Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Ballet, by Christopher Wheeldon, by various, dance-off, hip hop, Mad Hatter, Production, Steven McRae, tap, The Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Turbo, ZooNation

This article has 6 comments

  1. Kimberly Jones responded on 16 December 2014 at 10:58am Reply

    This is truly disgusting, to cheapen the artistry of a real dancer like McRae who has devoted his life to true dance as art with this ersatz filth denigrates not only true dance but all humanity. I pray for him and his artistic soul that this "street dance" has not ruined his Terpsichorean genius.

    • Donna Weller responded on 16 December 2014 at 4:20pm

      What is to say that street dance is not a true dance? That is an opinion and to be honest not one that a lot of people will agree with you on. I have two daughters whom street dance and actually have Issac as a teacher. I believe him to be just as much an artist as the gentleman you believe to have hopefully not had his 'artistic soul ruined'. Issac is inspiring and one of the best house dancers in the world with a lot off recognition for what he has achieved! He has also devoted his live to being a true dancer as you put it but in a different style to the one you prefer.

  2. Cristobal Castillo responded on 17 December 2014 at 12:12am Reply

    I'm a really big fan of dance and ballet, obviously I respect and admire to Mr. McRae (is one of my favourites dancers in the world). But I'm afraid that Ms. Jone's opinion is quite offensive even for the sort of dance that she thinks support. This kind of thinking shows the inability to look further and it's against to the spirit of art (and I insist... even against the spirit of classical and modern ballet).

    An experienced ballet's spectator :)

  3. Mary Grigg responded on 17 December 2014 at 2:14am Reply

    How deeply disturbing some of these comments are. How wonderful for the ROH to open up channels in a wonderful way to children that seemed to bring them such joy. As Dance practitioners it is our moral responsibility to challenge pre existing ideas of modes of education and find pathways to encourage the young. Bravo I will not respond in French the language of ballet or Latin the language of the elite!
    Kind Regards
    Mary Grigg Ballet teacher

  4. Helena Kingsbury responded on 18 December 2014 at 7:04pm Reply

    Isnt it a shame that Ms Jones is so focused on what she sees as a true talent being ballet in its purest form and has missed the delights of a new style of dance with its innovation and creativity openly freeing the dances to express themselves in new and artistic ways I am a ballroom dancer who loves the world of krump and enjoys jazz as much as opera perhaps Ms Jones needs to open her mind to new ideas I never stop looking for ways to enjoy all kinds of dance its called progress and i doubt expressing himself in a new art form would damage the delightful Mr McRae who undoubtedly would not do anything to spoil his real talent just let his creativity our for a bit of fresh air Good for him most of us enjoyed it a lot.

  5. Caroline responded on 7 December 2016 at 8:08pm Reply

    What's wrong with experimenting? To see the joy of the children is all that's needed to justify this bit of fun.

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