WON­DER LAND

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.

VOGUE Australia - - Contents -

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.”

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