‘The Royal Winnipeg Ballet brings Wonderland as part of the Alberta Ballet’s 45th season

The Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and Alice herself, will be making a stop in Calgary, clad in tights, tutus, and ballet shoes from Oct. 27–29.

 The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) presents “Wonderland” as part of Alberta Ballet’s 45th season.

The artistic director of the RWB, Andre Lewis, said that “‘Wonderland’ is an adventure in every sense of the word.”

“I’m certain that everyone — young and old — will be as taken by the ballet’s topsy-turvy upside-down characters and events and breath-taking multimedia,” Lewis said. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share (choreographer) Shawn Hounsell’s inventive new ballet, ‘Wonderland,’ with audiences as a part of our 2011-2012 season.”

Amar Dhaliwal as the Mad Hatter

Photo Courtesy of David Cooper

The ballet first premiered in Winnipeg earlier this year and made its Alberta premiere at the Banff Centre in March. This is the first time the RWB is taking “Wonderland” on tour across Canada and into parts of the United States.

The show is a re-interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s beloved tale of Alice falling down the rabbit role, but the RWB has done something new with the literary classic.

Award-winning RWB choreographer Hounsell has transformed “Wonderland” into a multi-sensory experience with elements of multimedia with the use of projections, and incorporating Canadian contemporary music with bridges of electro-acoustic music.

“I knew the story of Alice would make an interesting ballet story in a non-traditional way,” Hounsell said.

“The story was written in the 1860s and it’s the strangeness that makes Wonderland, but what if we revisit Wonderland now in 2011, what is our Wonderland today? What peculiarities might play themselves out?” Hounsell said.

RWB principal dancer Tara Birtwhistle plays the infamous Queen of Hearts and has been dancing with the RWB for 20 years, starring in other performances like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Dracula.”

“This isn’t your grandmother’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” Birtwhistle said.

Something different that “Wonderland” delivers in the contemporary ballet is the use of vocals. The Queen of Hearts will be speaking, adding to the overall multi-sensory experience, shrieking “off with their heads!”

Eye-grabbing backdrops, talking ballerinas and wild costumes will make “Wonderland” a bright, contemporary, energetic performance heading to Calgary at the end of this month.RW dancers Amanda Green and Amar Dhaliwal

Photo Courtesy of David Cooper

Tickets for “Wonderland” start at $27 for adults and are available online at albertaballet.com or by contacting the Alberta Ballet Box Office at 403.245.4549 in Calgary or 780.428.6839 in Edmonton.

pwyntjes@cjournal.ca