The University of South Carolina Dance Program will present Wonderland, a dance theatre version of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland, February 9–11 at Drayton Hall Theatre.
Show times are 7: 30 p. m. nightly, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance February 11. Admission is $15 for students, $20 for USC faculty/staff, military, and seniors 60+, and $22 for the public. Tickets may be purchased online at sc.universitytickets.com or at the door. Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College Street, across from the historic USC Horseshoe.
Choreographed and directed by USC Dance associate professor Jennifer Deckert, Wonderland is a contemporary reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s beloved story that fuses dance and whimsical production design to tell the story of a young girl’s adventures through a strange fantasyland. Alice’s journey through the rabbit hole takes her into the depths of her own psyche, where she must find inner strength to survive a bizarre and dangerous world that just gets “curiouser and curiouser.”
Deckert says her take on the oft-told tale is that Alice’s adventure is really an internal battle with her own insecurities.
“I think the world of the show lives inside Alice’s mind,” says Deckert. “It’s a dive into the magical, absurd, and scary parts of our subconscious and the voices that control us.”
She adds that Alice’s odyssey mirrors the creative process that was undertaken to bring Wonderland to the stage.
“Creation requires you give up yourself,” she says. “You literally jump in and explore things of beauty while being confronted by voices that tell you you’re not good enough or you don’t belong. In the end, it’s all about pushing through that and saying those voices don’t matter. Wonderland is about Alice’s journey to confront those voices of doubt.”
While the original story’s iconic characters, such as the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, and Cheshire Cat, remain in the narrative, Deckert says the production purposely veers away from the familiar imagery of Disney’s version of the story. In fact, she says the unique visions of the show’s designers have inspired her choreographic interpretation.
“I guided all our designers away from the sometimes carnival-like perceptions of Wonderland and its characters and toward a more sophisticated and nuanced interpretation. For instance, many of the costumes have been built upon the idea that in our dreams we often see pieces instead of full images. And rather than setting the story in a realm of marble floors and columns, our Wonderland exists within nature.”
“ The creation of this work and my movement vocabulary has actually been driven through collaborations with the designers just as much as their designs have been influenced by the story. This entire piece is being built almost from the design up or, at the very least, hand-in-hand with the design.”
Creating the fantastical world are second-year MFA design students Andrew Burns ( costume design), Ashley Jensen ( scenic design), and Lorna Young (lighting design). A cast of 18 dancers embody Wonderland’s eccentric characters, led by sophomore dance education major Bailey Brown as Alice.
“I hope this production inspires a bit of child-like inquiry and playful reflection,” says Deckert of her dreams for this original work. “And a belief that anything is possible.”
For more information on Wonderland or the dance program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush via email at email@example.com or by phone at 803-777-9353.