Alice (in wonderland)

Dancers Angelina Sansone & Geoffrey Kropp. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancer: Laura Hunt. Photography: Steve Wilson.

Choreography: Septime Webre
Music: Matthew Pierce



Alice daydreams as her family swirls around her chaotically. She is mesmerized by the mysterious and quirky Lewis Carroll, a family friend, who takes Alice on a boat ride and picnic in the country.


During their picnic, Lewis Carroll begins telling Alice an astounding story of a little girl’s adventures in a wonderland. As Alice drifts to sleep, a White Rabbit hops by. The nervous Rabbit checks his pocket watch because he’s late. He quickly leaps into a rabbit hole; Alice follows. She falls for what seems like miles. Alice lands with a thud in a hallway filled with closed doors. She drinks a potion and grows quite tall; she fans herself and shrinks quite small. Through a keyhole, the tiny Alice catches her first glimpse of the evil Queen of Hearts. When Alice eats a bit of cake and returns to normal size, she can no longer fit through the tiny door that leads to the wondrous world.


Frightened and confused, Alice cries a pool of tears.

The Dormouse swims by and befriends Alice. Then, a Dodo Bird, an Eaglet, and a flock of Flamingos plop into the pool. The Dodo Bird decides the best way to get everyone dry is to dance a Caucus Race.


Alice comes upon a Fish footman who is delivering an invitation to the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game to the Frog footman who works for the Duchess. Inside the Duchess’ cottage, bedlam reigns. The Duchess is agitated because the Cook has put too much pepper into the soup.


While walking along, Alice comes upon a Cheshire Cat, who appears and disappears on a whim. Later when Alice looks up to the sky, she finds he has become the moon. She then meets a peculiar Caterpillar who smokes a hookah pipe before metamorphosing into a butterfly before her eyes. Next, Alice stumbles into a puzzling tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse.


Card gardeners have accidentally planted white roses in the Queen’s garden. The Queen of Hearts only wishes to grow red roses. Fearing her wrath, they paint the roses red. The Queen’s court spills by, and Alice sees her friend the White Rabbit and the Queen’s Joker. Alice is invited by the Queen to play a very different game of croquet using Flamingo mallets and Hedgehogs as croquet balls. Blaming the Hedgehogs for losing the match, the Queen proclaims, “Off with their heads.” Alice saves the Hedgehogs, and the angry Queen chases her into the forest.


In the forest, Alice happens upon a Rocking-Horse-Fly, a Bread-and-Butterfly, and beautiful Snap-Dragon-Flies. Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee playfully argue as they pass by. Alice reflects on her amazing journey with the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Tweedle Twins. The languid group is suddenly threatened by the ultimate danger: the Queen’s Jabberwock.

To protect her new friends, Alice slays the beast.


Back at the Queen’s palace, Alice is arrested and put on trial for her crime. Utter confusion breaks out in the court while the Queen shouts, “Off with her head.” Alice realizes the silliness of the Queen and her court and they fall like a house of cards. She awakens from her dream and finds herself at home.

Program Notes:

I have always been intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the beginnings of Lewis Carroll’s creation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and his subsequent book Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (who later took on the nom de plume of Lewis Carroll) was an interesting fellow; mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer, whose love of wordplay is evidenced throughout both books. He was a great friend of real-life Alice and her family, the Liddell’s. One rainy day, Dodgson took Alice and her twin sisters on a picnic at Folly Bridge near Oxford, England where they took a boat ride. It was on that ride that Dodgson began to spin the tall tale of a special girl named Alice, which he subsequently published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I have chosen to create a prologue to this adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s work by presenting a fictionalized version of Alice Liddell and her odd-ball family members, who reappear as other characters throughout her journey in Wonderland: Alice’s overbearing mother becomes the Queen of Hearts; her hen-pecked father, the ineffectual King of Hearts; her kooky twin sisters, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum; her narcoleptic Grandmother, the always sleeping Dormouse; her befuddled Grandfather, the perplexed March Hare; the nervous and rushed butler becomes the White Rabbit; and Lewis Carroll himself returns as the Mad Hatter. While I have followed the structure of the first book, some of my favorite elements from the second book such as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the Jabberwocky, and others, make an appearance in the ballet.

On behalf of the army of passionate people who’ve created this production together, it’s an honor to share this special tale of a little girl and her amazing adventure with you.

Ballet premiere: The Washington Ballet, April 11, 2012
Eisenhower Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.

Kansas City Ballet premiere: October 10, 2014
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri

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