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Curiouser and curiouser - why the fascination with Alice?


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I see that Washington Ballet has premiered a new "Alice (in Wonderland)" - on DanceTabs, or see tomorrow's Links. By my count that makes five new takes on the story in almost exactly a year - ie in addition to those for Scottish Ballet, Royal Ballet/National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Queensland Ballet. (Plus, I seem to recall noting during one Links morning not too long ago that another US company has commissioned a version, but I can't be certain of that.)

 

Purely chance on a global scale, or something else?

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I think this is true for other subjects that ballet takes up, too. When one company produces a successful storyline - others jump in. Look at the huge spate of Romeos - literally dozens of subsequent productions around the world. Even small companies taking it on as a one act. I think Dracula was another.

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Yes, I'm surprised too. After all, Alice does have a very curious storyline, and not one that I would have thought had a great deal of appeal - but I'm obviously wrong on that point. And I've often wondered why there aren't more ballets based around Shakespeare's plays; there's plenty of great stories there.

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Apart from the recent glut, Northern Ballet had a delightful, longish, one acter when I first started watching the company (they did it on a double bill with A Simple Man) and, of course, ENB had a version in the Derek Deane days.

 

Over the last few months it's been a similar story with Beauty and the Beast with BRB reviving David Bintley's, Northern Ballet doing David Nixon's splendid new production and was it Independent Ballet Wales who also had a production touring?

 

How often has every company under the British sun (ha ha) been showing their Romeo and Juliet at the same time?

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I think the question is: why all these new ones, all of a sudden? After all, 18 months ago you couldn't move for Cinderellas, but most of those, barring BRB's, were existing works. Obviously, the RB's was in gestation for some considerable time before that, but why the others? It's a family-friendly title, obviously, but pretty intractable in being converted from the page. Obviously, in the current economic climate it's good to have something that is relatively guaranteed to put bums on seats, but did everyone else go "Oh, the Royal Ballet's doing Alice - let's have a go too"? Seems unlikely to me. Lack of imagination? Who knows?

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"Lack of imagination?"

 

That was my first thought.

There is also a new "Streetcar Named Desire" (I've seen only the Nuemeier one, I don't know if there are other).

It seems that people has not imagination enough to think to new plays or novels...well basically maybe they don't read,...

For Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella it's different because there is a famous music (or more than one) to use and maybe inspiring.

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Or maybe they suspect that their audiences don't read, and won't recognise anything but the most obvious titles? (Not that all well-known books necessarily make good ballets, anyway).

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