The Royal Winnipeg Ballet (“RWB”) is bringing a modern version of Alice’s Wonderland across the country this month, stopping in Vancouver for shows March 24th until the 27th.
“This is not your grandmother’s Wonderland,” said Principal dancer Tara Birtwhistle during our telephone interview. She’s currently rehearsing in-studio with the company before the tour.
“Our Wonderland is very unique, I don’t think the ballet world has seen anything like it.” Birtwhistle added that the RWB’s production is contemporary and is set in modern times, including references to the internet and television. “It sort of parallels what happens in our lives today – everyone has a different Wonderland to accept.”
The contemporary performance will also have the dancers vocalize, something that is very rare in ballet.
In fact, the RWB has been doing many things differently to help evolve the medium; they have been posting videos on Vimeo and YouTube throughout the rehearsal process, they are on Twitter, Facebook, and are reaching out to bloggers (such as yours truly) to help promote the show.
Born in Vancouver, Birtwhistle still has family here and has been with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for 20 years and will have her farewell performance starring in the company’s The Ecstasy of Rita Joe later this year. She will go on to teach at the RWB, passing on the experience she’s gained throughout her remarkable career that has included traveling the globe and even performing for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“I feel very fulfilled and at peace with leaving the stage but at the same time, I feel sad because it’s who we are. A dancer is what I’ve been my entire life, and I’ll always be a dancer.” You can catch her playing the role of the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland at the Centre for Performing Arts in Vancouver later this month.