Alice in Wonderland

Photos by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

BYU Theatre Ballet’s upcoming production of Alice in Wonderland has been in the works for longer than you think. Artistic director Shani Robison gave us a behind-the-scenes look at this original, full-length ballet.

The work for this production began about three years ago when Robison researched the best choice for the next full-length ballet for the Theatre Ballet company at BYU. She searched storylines, musical scores and ballets that have not been done for a long time, or even at all.

“I looked for the ballet that would be most interesting and fulfilling for those involved in the production,” Robison said.

She considered Snow White but didn’t feel there were enough dancing parts for the dancers in the company to grow. After further research, Alice in Wonderland intrigued her because of the unique storyline and familiarity people have with the story due to the recent movie. “I felt that with a story such as this, there would be multiple characters for the dancers to perform and it would be a really good choice for the university and families in our community,” she said.

Alice in Wonderland

Photos by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

“I felt that with a story such as this, there would be multiple characters for the dancers to perform and it would be a really good choice for the university and families in our community.”

Shani Robison, artistic  director

Upon further discovery, she found that this particular ballet had only been created and performed by a few professional companies and that no university ballet company had ever created a new original ballet from this storyline. She pursued the idea of creating it at BYU and received permission to use a compilation of Tchaikovsky’s music for it.

Since Robison has choreographed full-length ballets in the past, she wanted to have students more involved in every step of the process. She asked the Theatre Ballet dancers three years ago for volunteers in creating this production and two students, Charis Dexter and Elise Meiners, showed immediate interest. They have been working with Robison from that initial meeting until the completion of the ballet happening this month.

Not only have students helped with the choreography, but with the whole process behind this production. The sets, costumes, makeup and lighting have all been student initiated and completed through mentored help and instruction.

“It has been an amazing experience to see the students grow through this process and gain and enhance their talents in their areas of expertise,” Robison said. “This experience has been on a whole different level for me as I see those [students] fulfill their dreams and let their lights shine in ways that would never have been possible without this experience.”

BYU Theatre Ballet’s production of Alice in Wonderland will be January 28-30. For more information and tickets go to BYU Arts.

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