Backstage Reporter – Chelsy Meiss goes backstage in rehearsals for Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Ballet News
Corps de ballet dancer Chelsy Meiss continues her backstage diary
The sets, props and costumes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are so intricate and elaborate it is somewhat mindboggling. Other than The Nutcracker, this is the first time I have danced in a ballet that has so many props. It is fascinating to see all of the tiny details that might not be seen by the audience. For example, in the Prologue there is a normal-sized sponge cake but when it reappears during the Mad Hatter’s tea party it is super-sized so dancers can jump on it. There are even magic tricks! The White Rabbit learns a card trick, where the cards grow in size, to entertain the sisters in the Prologue.
There has been a lot of preparation with makeup and costumes behind the scenes. For some dancers performing in the Caucus race, makeup meant getting prosthetics. Dancers performing the role of the Rooster or Monkey had their face plastered for their own customized mask. I’m not too jealous because I get to dance in a tutu shaped as a card suite. I’m a club and when we bow you can see the outline of the suite.
Most ballets don’t have too many costume changes and they mainly happen between intermissions. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is different because we have costume changes in the same Act! This Friday, we are having a rehearsal dedicated to timing our costume changes. We all need to make sure we can switch into our costumes and makeup ourselves in a few short minutes. I’m anticipating a lot of runaway madness!
Read part One of Chelsy’s backstage diary
Read Part Two of Chelsy’s backstage diary (about Joby Talbot’s music)
Watch a video by The National Ballet of Canada describing the costumes and sets for Alice, which have been transported from London