Step through the looking glass with “Alice”

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By Special to the Monitor

New Mexico Dance Theater to premier its latest original story ballet

Step through the looking glass and enter a wonderland with “Alice”

New Mexico Dance Theater Performance Company (NMDT-PC), directed by Susan Baker-Dillingham, will present its newest creation, “Alice,” over the next two weekends at the Duane W. Smith Auditorium. The ballet will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A performance will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday and again at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 21.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, and free for children age 4 and younger. Purchase tickets in advance at Otowi Station Bookstore or at the door 45 minutes before performance times.  Based on Lewis Carroll’s books “Alice in Wonderland” and “Alice Through The Looking Glass,” the ballet “Alice” will showcase Baker-Dillingham’s creative spirit and put the talent and artistry of the NMDT-PC dancers in the spotlight. Audiences have been treated to several of Baker-Dillingham’s ballets in the past such as “A Mixed Bill,” “Dracula,” “Snow White,” “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Cinderella.”

 “Alice” will take the magic even further. “The original stories have provided me with so much material to use in the ballet,” Baker-Dillingham said, “and ‘Alice’ will be another NMDT-PC event not to be missed.”

All of the characters associated with the original story will perform, including Alice, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Turtle, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and a huge deck of cards. Baker-Dillingham’s production of “Alice” is brand new. From the music, the sets, the costumes, the lighting and the choreography, she has built the ballet from scratch.

Surprises will continue the tradition Baker-Dillingham began in past original ballets. “In ‘Oz,’ we were successful at floating in the Good Witch of the North and also flying the Wicked Witch of the West’s monkey,” Baker-Dillingham said. “We will fly again in ‘Alice,’ too, but many more special effects will be awaiting you when you take your seat.”

Some of these include: Alice shrinking and growing, Alice falling down the White Rabbit’s hole, the fantastical Tea Party featuring live tea cups, the croquet match played with 48 pink flamingos and 10 hedgehogs, the Knave of Hearts who steals the tarts and the trial scene.

“When you see this production, you won’t believe you are in Los Alamos,” Baker-Dillingham said. “The entire ballet is like one big, brilliant circus.”

NMDT-PC doesn’t perform with only one age group in mind. The 47 dancers in the “Alice” cast range in age from 6 to 50 and “even though we are performing a children’s story,” Baker-Dillingham said, “each and every one of the ballets I have created to date holds a delightful sophistication about it, providing great entertainment value for all ages.”

For the first time, NMDT-PC will perform over a two-weekend period. “So many folks have commented to me in the past that they were out of town or had to miss the one weekend we performed,” Baker-Dillingham said, “so this year we’ve added a second weekend. Word of mouth has always been our best form of advertising and the addition of a second weekend will give a chance for the excitement to spread through town,” she said.

NMDT-PC has set not only a tradition of providing creative ballets to the community, but of also giving back. Working in conjunction with the local food bank, LA Cares, NMDT-PC will sponsor a food drive during the run of “Alice.”  

The drive will focus on desired items not usually donated to LA Cares, including plastic half-gallons of cranberry and apple juice, canned tomato products, canned meats like tuna and chicken, boxes of Tuna Helper, canned fruit, boxes of dehydrated potatoes, boxed macaroni and cheese dinners, nutritious cereals, peanut butter, jams and jellies, granola bars, paper products, diapers size 5/6, pull-up diapers size 3/4, five-pound bags of sugar and flour, pet food, bath soap, shampoo, tooth brushes, toothpaste, and school snacks like fruit cups and juice boxes. The food bank cannot accept anything packaged in glass.

“When you attend the production of ‘Alice’, you will not only have a wonderful time at the theater, you will also help Los Alamos residents who are in need,” Baker-Dillingham said. “The community has given NMDT-PC so much support for its productions, we like being able to give back,” she said.  

The ballet “Alice” features 80 new costumes, many designed by Baker-Dillingham and executed by costume mistress Kenda Bultman and her team of dedicated volunteer seamstresses. The collaboration of Holly Haas’ spectacular original sets and theater manager Ross Mason’s dramatic lighting design brings artistic unity to the production.

NMDT is located at 147 and 149 Central Park Square. Expanding into a second studio space this past August has made it possible for NMDT to offer additional classes to more than 225 students. The spring term begins in January. For more information, visit the web site at www.NMDT.org.

Editor’s Note: “Alice” cards by Clay Dillingham and Holger Waschinski.