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Cat Meffan

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Back in November I set an alarm on my phone for 9:30am on January 15th… that’s how keen my friend Fiona and I were to get tickets for the Royal Ballet’s performance of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland at the Royal Opera House.

Thursday 11th May FINALLY came around after a lot of ‘I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO excited!’ messages exchanged between Fi and I. Off we went to the Royal Opera House, as excited as the Mad Hatter on speed.

Fi had already seen the ballet, but only on TV, so this was kind of new for both of us. I can tell you now that this was without a doubt one of the best ballets I’ve ever seen and I’ll tell you why…

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Everything from the lighting, to the set, to the projections and the wonderland creatures’ movements were perfection. I’m going to try not to spoil it for anyone that is going to see it, but I really want to tell you so much. The White Rabbit displays each rabbity twitch and hop so well, as does the Tortoise with his very low and slow walk. There are lots of little surprises throughout, which made the audience giggle or gasp.

Talking of giggling, that was one of the best things about the performance – the way they managed to keep a humorous tone throughout, something that a lot of people wouldn’t think a ballet would be capable of.

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One thing to look out for is the Caterpillar, definitely one of mine and a lot of other people’s favourite characters. Not only was Eric Underwoods’s dancing beautiful in the way he moved his body, but the detail in the costume was what caught my eye. When the caterpillar made an entrance in all his glory, it was the pointe shoes that caught my eye. I just Googled to get an image and actually found this little blurb about them on the RoH website:

It’s one of the best-loved scenes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the meeting of Alice and the hookah smoking Caterpillar. After his solo, backed by Arabian princesses, the caterpillar departs the stage with parasol in hand, followed by a trail of legs in perfect unison. 16 legs with 16 feet, all wearing the most beautiful, royal blue, crystal-encrusted pointe shoes. It’s a moment audiences love but behind it lies a huge amount of effort.

Each blue shoe belongs to one of eight dancers: either members of The Royal Ballet Company or Royal Ballet School students. Each individual pair is prepared by one of the two members of staff working in the Ballet Shoe Room. Jane and Máire first have to fit the shoes, before dying them an exact shade of royal blue. Blue ribbons are then attached before each shoe is hand-encrusted with 365 crystals. It takes about a day to prepare each pair of shoes, and these are just 8 of the thousands (approximately 11,000) pairs of pointes Jane and Máire have to make sure are available to the Company throughout the Season.

Pointe shoes hand-encrusted with 365 crystals

Pointe shoes hand-encrusted with 365 crystals

Fi and I spent the train journey home discussing these pointe shoes and how we want a pair hanging in our bedrooms. When I used to danced I dreamt of dancing in shoes like these – the kind of shoes that the audience notice the moment you step on stage.

All of the characters played their part to perfection, with another of my favourites being The Queen of Hearts, who received the loudest applause for her performance. She was mean but funny, beautiful but horrible and got the whole Royal Opera House laughing for her brilliant dance with the male card dancers – go and watch it and you’ll see what I mean.

The Queen of Hearts walked up steps whilst on pointe. WOW.

The Queen of Hearts walked up steps whilst on pointe. WOW.

Hopefully this blog post will make you all want to buy tickets the next time it comes around. I know I’ll be going again. Check out some more images from the performance below. SO GOOD!

Alice and her wonderland friends.

Alice and her wonderland friends.

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Did you know that flamingos have group sex. Google it. It’s true.

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ALICE by Wheeldon

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P.S. Keep an eye out for the little hedgehogs too! x