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Alice in the Garden (Act I) [1970, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0114
Run Time
0h 18m 45s
Date Produced
"Alice in Wonderland" is a ballet in 2 acts, based on Lewis Carroll's 1865 children's book. Originally choreographed by Michael Charnley (London, 1953) to music by Joseph Horovitz. Ruth Page's version was initially called "Alice in the Garden," (not yet a full ballet) with music by Isaac Van Grove. It was premiered in 1970 at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts. The piece was later realized as a full-length ballet: "Alice in Wonderland," also sometimes referred to as "Alice through the Looking-glass."  Its Chicago premiere was in April 1977 at the Arie Crown Theatre in the new McCormick Place.

This film represents a recording of the original Jacob's Pillow performance of "Alice."  All dancers are in full costume and women are all en pointe. The technique level of the dancers varies; the "flowers" appear to be students. The performance includes a few speech interludes, such as the Queen of Hearts insisting that Alice dance. The film canister label indicates that the role of Alice is danced by Joyce Cuoco. 
The film begins with a few wayward frames shot from the wings; it then cuts to a camera position from the audience. The White Rabbit exclaims at the arrival of the Queen of Hearts, who demonstrates her power over numerous creatures by seeming to control their dance. Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, the comic relief, join for a silly pas de deux; when they are finished, the Queen prompts Alice to dance as well. At first, she insists that she cannot, but after some intimidating prodding, she performs a very difficult and thus impressive pointe solo (the dancer appears to be no older than 16). Soon, the Caterpillar appears with his hookah; the Queen chases him around the stage and Alice admonishes him for smoking. The Queen once again marshals the various creatures into a dance of her bidding, but then a storm (signified by dim lights with bright flashes) interrupts the demonstration. Due to the storm, dancing becomes frenzied; flowers sway and Alice sways with them. Eventually, the storm ends and Alice helps the flowers revive themselves. Afterward, the finale begins, with all the various characters reentering and doing brief individual dances. An unidentified man in an orange shirt joins Alice at the very end.
00:05 - Text fills frame: "Alice in the Garden" 00:08 - Text fills frame: "Directed and Choreographed by Ruth Page" 00:13 - Apparently shot from a stage right wing, a male soloist begins dancing (perhaps a few frames from rehearsal or the end of the film?) 00:20 - Cut to LS of White Rabbit solo; camera follows him 00:26 - He exclaims "Yippee" as well as something indiscernible 00:32 - Enter Alice from stage right 00:38 - Enter Queen of Hearts from stage left (camera follows her dancing, but pans left and right to also include Alice and other creatures, which apparently accompanied the queen) 01:13 - Queen gestures to other creatures and they appear to walk straight off the front of the stage into the audience 01:20 - Cut to MLS of owl dancing (off-stage?) 01:24 - Cut back to LS of stage, Alice running stage left to interact with a snail 01:40 - Reenter queen and creatures from extreme downstage left (perhaps from the audience) 01:46 - Queen jumps off front of stage, alone this time 01:50 - White rabbit, who had been upstage, runs center stage and announces "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum;" exits stage left with a saut de chat 02:02 - Cut to MS of owl, who speaks inaudible words 02:13 - Cut to more oblique angle from the owl's right (Again, perhaps off-stage? Now a white background rather than black) 02:!4 - Cut to LS of stage; camera follows Dum & Dee (both male dancers in cropped tops) doing a silly pas de deux while crouching turtles look on 02:43 - It appears that the owl is "floating" on a ladder above them 02:52 - Camera is knocked askew; re-focuses at 2:54 with a slightly more distant LS 03:55 - Enter Alice from stage right 04:02 - Camera knocked askew again; returns at 4:04, much tighter framed 04:08 - Cut to Alice upstage with the turtles, a voiceover apparently on the queen's behalf: "Now, Alice, it's your turn to dance." 04:15 - "Oh, but I can't dance." 04:18 - "What do you mean, you can't dance?" as the queen spins Alice around; she then begins to say "off with your--" 04:30 - White rabbit appears from stage right to encourage Alice; camera follows him off stage left 04:35 - Alice begins a very skilled pointe solo, including a perfect triple pirouette and numerous 'toe-hops;' camera follows her 05:41 - Cut forward in time a few moments to Alice doing piqué turns en manège 06:00 - Alice ends her solo by teetering and "falling" into splits 06:05 - Queen demands that she get up; White rabbit pulls her to her feet 06:20 - White rabbit and Alice perform a pas de deux, which includes a brief can-can; camera follows them 07:42 - Cut to queen, center stage, hunched over and beckoning toward stage right 07:47 - Cut to caterpillar slowly crawling in from stage right 08:17 - Lights dim to black 08:19 - Apparently a cut, though minimal camera change, to caterpillar up and dancing, with two turtles looking on, while lights flash 08:40 - Caterpillar falls, Alice appears to admonish him for smoking so much hookah 08:54 - Cut to queen chasing caterpillar around; they both leap over the turtles during the chase 08:57 - Cut/pan left to the caterpillar's assistant fetching his hookah; follows caterpillar off stage left 09:02 - Queen reenters from stage left; camera follows her to center 09:08 - Lights go black 09:14 - Queen orchestrates a dance of the creatures (owl, lobsters, turtles, White rabbit, etc.). Camera pans slowly back and forth across the stage; sound becomes very quiet (seemingly a result of the filming, not the stage conditions). 09:38 - Film slips; returns 9:42 10:04 - Cut to extreme LS of whole stage 10:30 - Lights dim, the creatures dance ends with all on the floor; clapping audible 10:33 - Cut to low light with flashing brights for lightning storm effect 10:37 - Alice runs in from stage left, behind creatures; they begin to get up 10:48 - Cut to closer LS of Alice & White rabbit stage right 10:52 - Music is loud again; slow pan right and back left as the storm and dancing become more frenzied 12:00 - Alice has procured an umbrella, enters with it from upstage left 12:08 - Group of flowers bourrée in from upstage right (camera follows them); lights continue to flash 12:18 - Alice joins them in swaying, stage left 12:22 - Quick pan left to queen, right again to flowers, which slowly take over the whole stage as the queen exits stage right 12:53 - Flowers fall to ground, some quiver or pop up briefly 13:07 - Center flower does mini distraught solo; when she falls back down, lights stop flashing but remain dim 13:19 - Alice stands center, exclaims "Oh me, oh my" 13:32 - Film slips; returns 13:35 with a tighter framing on Alice, who is trying to revive the flowers 13:48 - Cut to storm lights again; another solo by front flower 14:01 - Cut to lights on, some standing flowers; pan left as Alice awakens the rest 14:33 - Flower frenzy begins; they gather around Alice at center 14:36 - White rabbit emerges, as if by magic, from flower phalanx; runs around stage and joins Alice upstage center 14:46 - Flower dance begins, including interludes by Alice & White rabbit, partnering. 15:22 - White rabbit exits downstage left 15:35 - Cut to owl entering upstage left, followed by lobsters 15:45 - Alice solo (mainly turns), while flowers look on from sides of stage; camera follows her 16:08 - Reenter White rabbit from stage left to partner Alice again 16:17 - Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee enter with a bourrée from upstage right 16:27 - Dum & Dee dance with Alice, flowers 16:36 - Enter caterpillar from stage left as flowers back up to upstage; caterpillar performs a solo, which camera follows, and Alice joins 16:53 - Turtles and flowers dance and exit 17:08 - Man in orange shirt enters from stage right 17:10 - Cut, slight movement of camera 17:18 - Man in orange shirt dances with Alice 17:33 - Flowers reenter; snails do a wave downstage (offstage/in audience?) 17:39 - White rabbit runs on behind flowers from upstage right; joins Alice and man in front; runs around again 17:48 - Slight camera slip & cut to extreme LS of stage for final pose by dancers (man lifts Alice to a shoulder-sit); queen crosses from stage right to stage left; applause 17:57 - Lights black out 18:00 - Text fills frame: "Alice in the Garden" 18:05 - Text fills frame: "Directed and Choreographed by Ruth Page" 18:09 - Text fills frame: "© 1970 by Robert H Savage"
Main Credits
Savage, Robert H. (is filmmaker)
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Van Grove, Isaac (music)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Cuoco, Joyce (is performer)
Related Place
Becket (production location of)