Review - Christopher Wheeldon's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Royal Opera Ballet

There are certain companies you grow up in awe of. For the most part, this awe fades as you get older, learn more about your craft, and see more work. The Royal Ballet, home-base of two of my favourite dancers in history (Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn) was one of those companies I was in awe of, and finally this week I had the chance to see them live. The awe has not faded in the least. This production, a re-mount of their 2011 world premiere, was every bit of brilliant dancing, amazing costumes and clever set design that I had grown up expecting to see at the Royal Opera Ballet.

The choreography, unlike many new full-length ballets, uses a significant amount of classical ballet language, with the majority of female roles en pointe. This was refreshing, as we have come to see a lot of character-shoe or bare-footed ballerinas after the contemporary dance waves of the 70s and 80s. Wheeldon spins a beautiful story, hearkening back to the original Lewis Carrol book, one spinning through confusion, illogical associations, and silliness. Some specific choices stood out; Alice's free-spirited and youthful movement carried through the piece, while the Queen of Hearts is shaped as a prima-ballerina past per prime, in full egotistical glory. The most genius stroke, however, was to make the Mad Hatter a tap dancer; Wheeldon's choreography allows the Mad Hatter's tapping to underscore the emotion in each moment, his steps mirroring the ballet ones, but adding sounds throughout, all of which was beautifully executed.

Overall, an amazing night-of-a-lifetime.