A classic children’s tale has been transformed into an astonishing spectacle, now imaginatively performed by the Australian Ballet. By Jane Albert. Styled by Petta Chua. Photographed by Jake Terrey.
Features A classic children’s tale has been transformed into an astonishing spectacle, now imaginatively performed by the Australian Ballet.
When Amber Scott was a young child growing up in Brisbane, she was fascinated with the title character of Lewis Carroll’s offbeat tale Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland. When she was just six years old, she begged her mother to make her an Alice costume, with its sky-blue dress and white apron; she requested a Mad Hatter’s tea party to celebrate her birthday a few years later, and more recently devoured Tim Burton’s dark cinematic interpretation. Now she is living her own fairytale, as the principal artist of the Australian Ballet prepares to dance the lead role in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, an ambitious new production choreographed for the stage.
It is the biggest, most expensive and complicated production in the company’s 55-year history, one that has been brought alive by some of the most exciting names in the business: British choreographer and Royal Ballet artistic associate Christopher Wheeldon; Bob Crowley, the world’s most awarded living set and costume designer; and multi-dimensional musician Joby Talbot, who has composed for artists ranging from indie rockers the White Stripes to the filmmakers behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to
the Galaxy and Sing. Unusually for a ballet, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has become an international box-office hit, and the production comes to Australia following successful seasons in London (it was commissioned by the Royal Ballet in 2011), Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. If the earlier productions are anything to go on, it’s unlike anything previously seen on our dance stages.
For the past 12 months the Australian Ballet’s wardrobe team, wig makers, props department, set designers, shoe makers and armourers have been holed up in the company’s Melbourne headquarters building the magical world Alice will inhabit. Her journey through Wonderland is brought to life through puppetry, interactive digital projections, mind-bending sets, wigs, masks and a staggering array of costumes numbering more than 300. There’s even a magic consultant.
“It’s like watching a really high-quality musical. The puppetry and visual effects and sets are a whole new level to anything I’ve seen in ballet before,” says Scott during a rehearsal break in Melbourne. “We probably won’t fully comprehend it all until we’re on stage.”