Down the Rabbit Hole with The Seniors of "Alice in Wonderland"
Alice in Wonderland opens in just three days at Lebanon Opera House. The ballet will run from Friday, May 4th to Sunday, May 6th. This year, City Center Ballet Company features their three high school senior dancers in the production.
Salome Shubitidze from Hanover High School will be playing the role of Alice. She’s been dancing with City Center Ballet for eleven years. “I’ve gotten a lot out of this ballet,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and definitely not your traditional ballet. It has amazing costumes, and the way it was choreographed [by choreographer Jennifer Henderson] captures the personality of Alice in Wonderland. Some people think ballet is boring... but this is really contemporary and the costumes and music are so much fun." This is Salome’s first time dancing a full-length lead in a ballet. “I’m really excited to be on stage for that long and really become my character.”
Rehearsals for "Alice" have been in full swing for weeks.
Rebecca (Becky) Dore from Lebanon High School is the White Rabbit. She joined City Center in 2012. Alice has been a good challenge to work on, she said, because “it’s a different style of ballet [than most]. I was Cinderella and a fairy before. Alice is more of a fluid style of dance. The rabbit is sharp and staccato and precise and fast.” Being a member of the company has allowed her to “express myself in a different way. When I come into the studio it gives me structure to my life. It helps me with time management and being organized.”
Zoe Liebold from Lebanon High School will play the Red Queen. “The most challenging and fun thing is the character aspect of it, really finding how I want to take on the role. What persona I want to take on, which I base on movies and other ballets. It’s been hard to find those little moments to project to the audience. “ Zoe has been dancing with City Center since 2012 as well. Alice is “a very different ballet than your classical ballet like Sleeping Beauty or Giselle. It’s more of an adventure. It’s more about the characters.”
While the dancers have been hard at work on Alice for the last several weeks, rehearsals have brought some laughs. Salome remembered that once, during rehearsal, she was supposed to be reading a book but had it upside down. "Jen [Henderson] reminded me that on stage, I just have to go with it." Becky said, "Today I had to try and jump into the rabbit hole for the first time. We went into it slowly and I was supposed to jump in no problem, but I got to the edge and got scared and froze." Zoe recalled, "As the Red Queen I have to eat a lot of tarts. Andrew Matte (who’s dancing the part of the knave) is feeding me tarts. I was trying to eat and dance at the same time, and tarts went everywhere. But if that happens during the production, we just have to keep dancing!"
A rack of costumes created by costumer Elizabeth Lorie is ready for dancers.
This week, Production week, the dancers have been working until 8:30pm each night. Zoe said, “Tonight was our first Tech Rehearsal, and when it all comes together, it’s just jaw-dropping. Even for us who know what is happening, we’re still just amazed.”
All three senior dancers will be pursuing STEM fields in the fall. Salome recently committed to Kenyon College in Ohio, where she’ll be majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Dance. Becky is majoring in Environmental Engineering at the University of Maine with a minor in Dance. Zoe will be going to Fordham University (at Lincoln Center in Manhattan) and will double major in Dance (with the Alvin Ailey BFA Program) and Environmental Science.
Don’t miss the chance to see these talented artists perform! Tickets are on sale now at Lebanon Opera House. The show will be playing this weekend: Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 1pm and 7:30pm, and Sunday at 1pm. Tickets are $9-$38.