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Alice Through the Looking Glass (Act II) [1974, El Paso]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0433
Run Time
0h 44m 30s
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 and Alice Through the Looking Glass," premiered by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in 1971. 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.

This video represents a performance of "Alice Through the Looking Glass" on December 14, 1974 in El Paso, Texas.  All dancers are in full costume, and audience applause is frequently audible.  The final 4.5 minutes of the video contain a silent rehearsal of another ballet, conducted in practice clothes.
The video begins with applause and a shot of a conductor bowing from an orchestra pit.  A few moments later, darkness gives way to a shot of a stage, on which Alice interacts with her own reflection (played by another dancer) in a looking glass (represented by a frame).  After a brief pas de deux with "herself," Alice follows her reflection through the looking glass and the two exit together. In the following scene, Alice is confronted by a knight galloping on his armored horse (the horse is part of a single costume).  After circling for a bit, the knight spins offstage; soon afterward, the Jabberwok enters (in an elaborate costume involving two people). The knight then reenters (without his horse) to rescue Alice; after circling it briefly with his sword raised high, he chops the creature in two.  The two halves stagger around for a bit and then exit, after which Alice picks up a piece of it and scurries offstage after the two halves.

Next, a couple enters stage, the man carrying the woman. As he carries her around the stage, they are followed onstage by three young women dancing as an ensemble.  Behind them, the couple has become a foursome, and the three men place the woman back on the ground. The three women then walk through this formation and fan out; as the camera zooms out, an additional group of women covered by a large veil appears on the other side of the stage. The formations change, and many of the women exit.  Alice is briefly carried across stage, and after more formation changes, a row of female figures is passed along a row of men before all onstage exit and the audience applauds. 

In the following scene, 6 dancers dressed as odd black-and-white cartoonish/oddly shaped creatures cross the stage one at a time; afterwards all return and do a dance together, joined by 4 additional dancers costumed like large round candies in front of them.  Alice then appears in the middle and dances a solo at the center of all the odd creatures, which then circle around her. Eventually, she follows them all offstage. 

Next, a voice begins announcing creatures from the astrology chart: Libra; Aquarius; Pisces; Aries; Scorpio; Capricorn; Saggitarius; Virgo; Gemini.  All arrive on stage as their names are called and stand, posed, until all have arrived.  All then move about stage for a few moments, rearranging themselves to allow Gemini (a couple) to stand front and center, leading the others in an ensemble dance while Virgo, with her long hair, performs a solo between them.  Eventually, all exit but Saggitarius and Scorpio, who begin to battle one another.  After they battle for awhile, Saggitarius prevails and Scorpio falls to the ground.  The audience applauds as they exit and as Virgo enters for a solo (much of which is out of focus).  When Virgo completes her solo by posing in a kneeling position on the floor, Taurus enters with another figure (Medusa? One of the other Zodiac characters?) and the two fight intensely while the rest, including Alice, arrive and watch.  Taurus loses and falls to the ground, but is soon helped back up by his opponent in time for all of the Zodiaac sign characters to welcome Alice to the front.  Once there, she performs a petite allegro solo while the rest look on and then join hands.  After she exits, Cancer (a large crab costume occupied by two dancers) enters for its own solo. It is followed by Capricorn, who finished by falling to the ground in apparent exhaustion.  Alice scurries forward to pull him up while the others begin an ensemble dance; once she succeeds, they join the group. This ensemble dance soon morphs into a circling around Alice, who is lifted up by the two halves of Gemini before all exit and leave her alone onstage.

Alice is then joined by what appears to be the knight (this time without his horse), who stands posed while Alice performs an introductory dance.  He then joins her for a long pas de deux, during which she appears to become very smitten with him.  Their dance ends after a lift: he places her down and backs off into the darkness.  As she recovers, the audience applauds.
Next, Alice announces that she wants to be a queen with a golden crown. She then immediately encounters one who is having trouble keeping her shawl straight.  After receiving assistance from Alice, she is joined for a duet by similarly costumed fellow queen (?). When another wardrobe malfunction occurs, Alice returns to help and also to join the dance.  Eventually, the two queens bow and Alice follows suit; the audience applauds.  At this juncture, the White Rabbit appears with a crown and wand.  Alice playfully chases him around the stage until she finally manages to grab the crown and place it on her head; the audience applauds again.  The other two queens then rejoin her for a crowned trio dance while the White Rabbit looks on.  After awhile, the original queen with the wardrobe problems grows tired and sits on the ground while the other two continue dancing.  When the dance is complete, the White Rabbit gives Alice the wand and scurries offstage momentarily, only to be chased back on by the Queen of Hearts. 

The Queen of Hearts is soon followed onstage by an influx of other creatures and flowers, and thrones are erected for her and the other queens (including Alice).  A somewhat nonsensical song is sung by a male voice while all non-queens onstage dance as ensembles.  This transitions into a finale, during which many characters from earlier in the ballet (such as the Old Maid, the Caterpillar, Humpty Dumpty, etc.) arrive and surround Alice for the grand finale, for which she is lifted high above the ground by playing cards.  At the very end, she appears to sneeze, and many of the characters fall to the ground.  The audience applauds, and the video goes black.

When the video comes back, the curtain falls before the cast in its final pose.  When it rises again, the characters come on in groups to bow: the children, followed by the flowers, followed by selections of the soloists and specialty characters, and finally Alice and the White Rabbit.  All then join together as the curtain falls once again.

The video then cuts to a rehearsal of a pas de deux from an unidentified ballet by two dancers in practice clothes.  Throughout, the two often step outside of the light and become difficult to see.  After the couple performs their initial dance together and exits, the video cuts in and out on the next section: a solo variation by the male dancer.  He then pulls his partner back onstage with him and they continue their pas de deux.  They stop in the middle of the rehearsal and walk away, perhaps preparing to restart.  The video ends there. 
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Van Grove, Isaac (is composer)
Related Place
El Paso (production location of)