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Alice in Wonderland (Act II) [1971, Pittsburgh]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0129
Run Time
0h 24m 2s
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." Music for this extended version was pieced together from many composers. Its Chicago premiere was in April 1977 at the Arie Crown Theatre in the new McCormick Place.

In this 1971 Pittsburgh version, numerous creatures not normally associated with the Alice story make an appearance, including 9 Zodiac characters. There is also a long pas de deux by Alice and a prince.
The film opens with a shot of an abstract blue amoeba-like shape. (The camera cuts to similar shapes at several points in the film, and upon examination these appear to be close-ups of the backdrop on the stage.) The camera then settles into a LS of the stage and 6 dancers dressed as odd black-and-white cartoonish creatures cross the stage one at a time; afterwards all return and do a dance together, joined by 4 additional dancers costumed like large candies. Alice then arrives, performs a small solo, and joins them all in a group dance. Then another string of characters dances across the stage, this time a series of 9 Zodiac characters, each announced by its sign and separated from the next by a fade to dark blue. They, too, then all return together to watch duos engage in choreographed fights—in between which Alice performs another solo. After the fights are resolved, all the Zodiac characters and Alice dance together as a finale to the segment. When the creatures exit, they leave Alice on stage as a prince enters. Alice and the prince then perform a long pas de deux, at the end of which the prince’s servants crown Alice as princess and give her a wand/scepter. Finally, numerous of the story’s characters (including many not previously seen in this film, such as the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit, Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, flowers from the garden, and various children) return to stage to dance the grand finale. Just before the film ends, it cuts to a shot of the Cheshire cat (a decoration, not a dancer), winking.
00:04-00:05 - Screen is filled with an abstract blue amoeba shape 00:06-01:33 - With the camera in a LS of the stage, 6 characters enter the stage and perform small dances, one at a time: a dancing egg with googly eyes prances from stage right to stage left, a character with a geometric white costume and faceless forked head chainées from stage left to stage right; a character whose body is a white pocket and whose head is round, black, and cartoonish, moves from stage right to stage left; a character most closely resembling a goat moves from stage left to stage right; a character looking like a large white ghost with a black moves from stage right to stage left; and finally, a differently styled ghost enters from stage left, dances and spins its costume in center, and begins to exit stage left but actually 'picks up' the other characters and leads them back toward center 02:34 - As these 6 creatures plus four more dressed like round candies all dance in two rows, enter Alice from center stage right, in between the two rows, and does a solo before joining them 02:38 - Alice dances a small solo; the other creatures watch her 03:43 - Cut to a new abstract design (a black treelike structure on a bluish background) gradually moving out of focus 03:59 - Cut to MLS of Alice, from stage right, as she nods and the stage lights fade to black 04:03 - Dark blue screen 04:13-05:10 - Quick fade-ins to MCUs various Zodiac characters, accompanied by a chanted announcement of their names, ensue: a blue-and-white bewigged dancer, who spins as "Libra" is chanted; a dancer with an elaborate tinsel headdress ("Aquarius" is chanted); a dancer in a complexly patterned silver-and-black costume ("Pisces"); a silver ram ("Aries"); a dancer (apparently male) dressed as a stylized scorpion creature ("Scorpio"); a male dancer in another ram-like costume ("Taurus"); a male dancer dressed as an archer, who aims bow & arrow ("Sagittarius"); a female dancer in all white ("Virgo"); and a male dancer in a silver costume ("Gemini") 05:22-06:44 - Sagittarius and Scorpio dance around each other menacingly and appear to fight until Sagittarius prevails and Scorpio falls to the ground 06:46 - Fade to blue 06:55-9:40 - Fade in to tight LS of Virgo, who begins a solo en pointe (camera follows); she continues until she kneels and falls the ground to complete her solo 09:50-11:02 - Numerous of the creatures are onstage, several running around, and two apparently holding Alice prisoner at upstage center; Taurus and another (also Zodiac?) creature fight until Taurus loses and falls to the ground 110:10-12:10 - All bow and Alice performs a light petite allegro solo as the Zodiac creatures watch, until she apparently becomes overwhelmed by them 12:15-14:12 - A 2-bodied crab costume enters from stage left and does a solo, with increased accompaniment from the various characters upstage; Taurus then follows with a solo of his own 14:15-15:00 - All on stage dance together in unison, ending with a male dancer hoisting Alice over his head to finish it; all then exit and leave alice with a prince-like figure (a knight?) 15:00-22:00 Alice and the prince/knight perform a pas de deux; near the end, several servants enter with a crown and wand for Alice 22:12- The prince and his servants having exited, the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, and a frog enter in a chase; they are followed by numerous other creatures including snails and lobsters, as well as singing flowers, quite a few children, Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, the Caterpillar, etc. 23:35 - This finale ends and the film cuts to a close-up on a large cheshire cat decoration, whose left eye winks via a blinking light, before returning to a final pose by all the dancers on stage
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Related Place
Pittsburgh (production location of)