Performance

Childlike wonder

Ballet Taos performs 'The Adventures of Alice' at the TCA

By Dena Miller
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 9/27/18

Things do get "curiouser and curiouser" when you slide down the rabbit hole and come face-to-face with the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Queen of Hearts …

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Performance

Childlike wonder

Ballet Taos performs 'The Adventures of Alice' at the TCA

Posted

Things do get "curiouser and curiouser" when you slide down the rabbit hole and come face-to-face with the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Queen of Hearts and a host of other characters that seem confoundingly intent upon upending what's what.

Having celebrated the 150th anniversary several years ago of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," it's apparent that the novel's timelessness has not diminished. It's a story we grew up with, and one we want to read with our children and grandchildren.

Disney brought it to the screen in one of the most popular animated films of all time. And for some of us a notable song by the Jefferson Airplane became an anthem, sort of.

This weekend, the community will have the pleasure of experiencing a sprightly take on the classical ballet rendition when Ballet Taos brings alive "The Adventures of Alice."

Performances Friday and Saturday (Sept. 28-29) will begin at 7 p.m. On Sunday (Sept. 30) curtain is at 6 p.m. Performances are at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte.

The Ballet Taos company will also host a special cosplay matinee Saturday (Sept. 29) at 2 p.m., when intermission will feature a Tea Party, of course, sponsored by Tea.o.graphy of Taos. Everyone's invited to show up dressed as your favorite character and enjoy the festive costume play.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum's bicycle from the show will be awarded as grand prize for best costume. Dance class gift certificates will also be awarded in several other categories.

Set to the music of German composer Herbert Baumann and with original choreography by Ballet Taos Director Megan Yackovich, the two-act performance will also contain scenes inspired by "Through the Looking Glass," Lewis Carroll's sequel to the original.

Cast members are from the ranks of the school and include Bodhi Fogden, Daisy Kirshbaum, Jamie Jensen, Derek Martínez and Quinn Davis. In special roles, Ballet Taos Creative Director C.J. Bernal will serve as the Caterpillar, filmmaker Kate Martin will stand in as the Cheshire Cat's smile and Adam Overly-Black will narrate as Lewis Carroll.

"I performed this ballet in Colorado with a previous company and always wanted to offer it as another classical piece for our season," Yackovich said. "It just felt right to do it now. The community has wanted more dance and more variety. Plus it's a kid-friendly performance, full of childlike wonder and humor."

You'll be transported into the pages of this classic book thanks to the company's whimsical stage sets and costumes, some of which have been borrowed from other troupes. But most were styled by the director and a cadre of Taos volunteers offering both clothes to alter and the seamstress skills with which to make the magic happen.

"Even the youngest of dancers have become very engaged with this production," Yackovich continued. "We have the book at practice with the pertinent chapters marked and they love reading more about the parts they'll play. They have come up with some pretty awesome takes on set and scenery -- a lot of which we've used.

"We want to nurture their creativity, something that's not typically addressed in classical training. An understanding of production intricacies only deepens their professionalism over time."

As lighthearted as the action backstage may be, Yackovich said of her choreography for the performance, "Make no mistake, we've had challenges and lots of hard work. A lot of this dance is a new way for our dancers to move their bodies. It's not necessarily classical or graceful movement because in a comical dance scene your body language must be exaggerated and intensely silly."

Yackovich's students are accustomed to taking such departures in stride. Along with Bernal, the dancers have been immersed in contemporary and interpretive movement in addition to their classical training.

Yackovich and Bernal met several years ago at a collaboration of artists from Northern New Mexico, but it was not until 2016 that the dance school was established.

"We realized there was no availability of professional dance exposure in Taos for students and literally built this school from scratch," Yachovich said, including the studio in which practice and lessons take place. "We saw the necessity and opportunity to introduce relevant, immaculately produced works of dance to the Taos community."

Of the students themselves, Yackovich said, "To consider dance as a career takes both passion and dedication. It's not just recreation for the students; it's a lifestyle. They come to the studio right from school and work well into the evening, and do this every day." It's an important distinction for the community to understand, she believes.

"Our programs are intensive and focused," she continued. "But if our students truly want to pursue a dancing career, then we're obligated to make them technically precise, rhythmically sound, artful and spirited in movement."

Bernal agreed. "It's about learning about yourself, what your body is capable of doing and where your ambition can take you," he said. "With our individualized attention to each student, we can make them well-rounded and ready to tackle the professional world."

In its two-year existence, the nonprofit has been embraced by its fellow art community.

"C.J. and I are grateful for every venue that's given us a stage, for every affiliate who's supported our mission, and for every donor who has made our scholarship program possible," Yackovich said. In addition to the Taos Center for the Arts, she noted the assistance Ballet Taos has received from the Taos Arts Council.

Most of all, the directors note that without the enthusiasm of the community at large the school would not exist.

"People have been inspired to come out for dance, and our goal is to keep building our audience so that other dance companies will want to perform at TCA. Between former colleagues and new professional affiliations, we're confident that we can see the future of dance in Taos keep growing," Yackovich concluded.

Tickets for all performances, including the matinee, are $15. They may be purchased in advance by calling (575) 779-9128 or by visiting ballettaos.com. They will also be available at the door as seating capacity allows. For more information on the Taos Center for the Arts, call (575) 758-2052 visit tcataos.org.

FYI BOX

Ballet performances

Friday-Saturday (Sept. 28-29), 7 p.m.

Saturday (Sept. 29) 2 p.m.

Sunday (Sept. 30), 6 p.m.

Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte

Tickets $15

(575) 779-9128

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