THE WASHINGTON BALLET PRESENTS THE WORLD PREMIERE OF SEPTIME WEBRE’S ALICE (IN WONDERLAND)
Production features new score by Matthew Pierce, costumes by Liz Vandal, sets by Jim Kronzer, lighting by Clifton Taylor and puppetry from Eric J. Van Wyk
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Ballet’s (TWB) spring programming begins in April with Artistic Director Septime Webre’ s world premiere of ALICE (in wonderland), April 11-15 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Eisenhower Theater.
From Mr. Webre’s revolutionary vision and choreography, costume designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soleil’s OVO), composer Matthew Pierce, set designer Jim Kronzer, lighting designer Clifton Taylor and puppeteer Eric J. Van Wyk, comes a spectacularly re-imagined take on Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. “We’ve assembled a dream team of collaborators working on sets, costumes, lighting design and puppetry,” said Septime Webre, TWB’s Artistic Director. “This confluence of talent has put together a jaw-dropping, beautiful and inventive production all set in motion by Matthew Pierce’s delicious and smart score.”
Mr. Webre‘s “dream team” scores big with a production that delights all the senses. The musical score, the lighting, the costume designs and fabrics as well as the fantastically, whimsical sets bring ALICE (in wonderland) to life. The original score composed, by Matthew Pierce and performed by Mr. Pierce and a group of local musicians, expresses the personality of each character. Mr. Pierce, although classically trained, combines influences of rock, blues, pop and even Arabic music into his score. The Cheshire Cat has a bluesy sound while the Red Queen has a techno pop sound, all achieved by Mr. Pierce with a strings and percussion ensemble. Audiences will be thrilled when the giant Jabberwocky puppet takes the stage. The puppet, created by Eric J. Van Wyk, consists of an animatronic body so large it must be controlled by six dancers. The choreography, music, and puppetry will be enhanced by graphic sets by local designer Jim Kronzer. Mr. Kronzer has worked with The Washington Ballet in the past, notably on Cinderella. Mr. Kronzer reminded audiences of the midnight surprise in Cinderella with multiple clocks that appeared throughout the set designs. He is planning similar whimsical touches in his set designs for ALICE (in wonderland). Mr. Webre said it best, “It’s going to be a wild ride…”
ABOUT THE DESIGN TEAM
Liz Vandal (Costume Designer) began her career as a fashion designer in 1988. Her style was inspired by futuristic superheroes and medieval armour. She used materials such as vinyl, plastic and polyurethane to bring her fantastic creations to life. In 1990, Ms. Vandal began working closely with Édouard Lock, founder of the Montreal dance company La La La Human Steps. She designed the costumes for his shows Infante c’est destroy (1991), 2 (1995), Exaucé/Salt (1999), Amelia (2002), André Auria (2002) for the Opéra de Paris, Amjad (2007) and Nouvelle Création (2012).
Other choreographers and dance companies turn to Ms. Vandal regularly because of her ability to combine costumes and body movement. She has worked for la Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Margie Gillis, Bill Coleman, José Navas, O Vertigo, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, The Washington Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, Mannheim Theater and Stuttgart Ballet (Germany), among others.
Since founding her company in 1992 with partner Yveline Bonjean, Ms. Vandal has created and innovated costumes in the fields of fashion, theatre, opera, music and film. The Backstreet Boys hired her to design the costumes for their Black & Blue Tour and her work appeared in the films The Lathe of Heaven directed by Philip Haas and La Turbulence des fluides directed by Manon Briand, both released in 2002. In May 2009, she designed costumes for Cirque du Soleil’s OVO, which was Ms. Vandal’s first collaboration in the circus world.
Ms Vandal has collaborated with The Washington Ballet on several productions, including costumes for Carmina Burana, Juanita y Alicia, Carmen, Journey Home, Rite of Spring and Oui\Non. For ALICE (in wonderland), Ms. Vandal has partnered with MTI Company to collaborate on the high technology fabric transformation, bringing technology into the dance costume tradition.
Matthew Pierce (Composer) was born in Brooklyn on July 24, 1968, into a family rich in artistic talent. His father, Michael, a painter, and his mother, Catherine, a sculptor, now based in Seattle, gave Mr. Pierce his start in the music world in 1976 with formal violin training, and also instilled in him an appreciation for the regional bluegrass and American folk music of his father’s Tennessee roots. Mr. Pierce’s great grandfather, Johnny Pierce, a soybean and corn farmer, toured depression era Appalachia with his banjo.
Mr. Pierce moved to New York in 1992 after completing his Masters of Music at The Peabody Conservatory. He abandoned the classical violin performance avenue he initially sought and became a prominent member of the downtown Off-Broadway theater scene. As resident composer of HERE Theater he won a Meet the Composer grant, wrote many incidentals and dance scores and performed a selection from his opera, The Cry Pitch Carrolls at the 1999 Village Voice Obie Awards.
Early exposure to the ballet world (his brother Benjamin is a former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet) developed in Mr. Pierce a special passion for the music of dance. He has written ballet scores for Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Atlanta Ballet, Ohio Ballet, Ballet Met, Cincinnati Ballet, Miami Ballet, New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Night, a full orchestra score set to a Chagall inspired dreamscape ballet has been seen at the Palais Garnier in Paris, Covent Garden in London and City Center in New York. His most recent work for San Francisco Ballet, Imaginal Disc was voted “Best Cultural Event of 2003” by the San Francisco Chronicle.
John Schaefer has featured Mr. Pierce’s work with the guitarist Byron Estep in their new music duo The Unsung String Duo on the National Public Radio show “New Sounds.” He has also performed on recordings by pop artists Jewel, Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega and on Philip Glass’ score, Kundun. Mr. Pierce is a professor of violin and the orchestra director at Five Towns College. His home and studio are in East Northport, NY.
James Kronzer (Set Designer) graduated from Catholic University with a BFA in Acting. He went on to receive a Certificate in Scenic Art from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London. Mr. Kronzer lives and works predominantly in Washington D.C., but he also has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway and at various regional theaters. He has designed numerous national tours including The Pajama Game, Backyardigans and Seussical the Musical.
Mr. Kronzer received his first Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Set Design” in 1989, followed by seven additional Helen Hayes Awards and countless nominations. In 2009, Mr. Kronzer received a Barrymore Award for Something Intangible at the Arden Theater Company. His set designs have been seen on the local stages of The Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre, Metro Stage, Imagination Stage, Theatre J, and Folger Theatre. Mr. Kronzer has designed for national tours and for regional theaters in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Utah, California, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New York. He also designs for film, television, and cruise ships and has even designed a Halloween White House display.
Eric J. Van Wyk (Puppet Maker) received his M.F.A. in Scenic Design from the University of Maryland—College Park and his B.A. in Fine Arts from Dordt College. Mr. Van Wyk, who is making his debut with The Washington Ballet, trained in puppetry with Sandglass Theatre in Vermont where he learned to see how the form, function and materials of a puppet are intertwined, as well as how human breath is the foundation of puppetry. His credits at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis include being Scenic Designer for Mercy Watson to the Rescue!, Babe, and The Sheep-Pig; Puppet and Scenic Designer for The Biggest Little House in the Forest; Puppet Designer for A Wrinkle in Time and Cinderella; and Puppet Consultant for Bert & Ernie, Goodnight! Minneapolis credits also include Open Eye Figure Theatre’s Milly & Tillie as Scenic Designer, The Holiday Pageant as Assistant Scenic Designer and the Guthrie Theater’s 39 Steps as Assistant Shadow Puppet Designer. Regional credits include the scenic design of Breath, Boom! at the Studio Theater 2ndstage and the puppetry design of The Neverending Story at Imagination Stage. He is a recipient of a 2009 Jim Henson Foundation Seed Grant for his shadow puppet work O the Sky! And a Puppeteers of America grant for his puppet design of Aslan for the upcoming production of The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe with Imagination Stage and The Washington Ballet.
Clifton Taylor (Lighting Designer) is returning to the Washington Ballet, where he previously designed “Oui/Non” for the company as well as all the ballets for the Jazz Blues Project. At the Kennedy Center, his work has also been seen with the National Symphony Orchestra, the American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Maria Benitez Teatro Flamenco, Sardono Dance Theater, and in Dance, the Spirit of Cambodia. Mr. Taylor has created lighting, projection and scenic designs for theater, dance and opera companies around the world. Broadway credits include Jay Johnson: The Two and Only (Ovation Award and LA Drama Critics Circle Nomination), Frozen (Lortel Nomination), and Hot Feet (Henry Hewes Nomination).
Mr. Taylor is a sought after teacher and lecturer on theatrical lighting especially in the area of color. In 2002 he was awarded a grant from the Asian Cultural Council to develop and teach a course in design for the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 2003, he led a master class for Indonesian theatrical designers in Solo, Indonesia. He has taught at the Broadway Lighting Master Class since 1997, and is a former member of the Juilliard School’s Dance Faculty. In addition, he has guest lectured throughout the US at major universities and professional conferences. Mr. Taylor was educated at New York University and resides in New York City with his family.
ALICE (in wonderland)
Audiences will be taken on a magical journey with the world premiere of Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland). Never before has The Washington Ballet combined such forces to create a new full-length ballet. From Mr. Webre’s revolutionary vision and choreography, costume designer Liz Vandal (Cirque du Soleil’s OVO), composer Matthew Pierce, set designer, Jim Kronzer, lighting designer Clifton Taylor and puppeteer, Eric J. Van Wyk comes a spectacularly re-imagined take on Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. Enter the magical world of Alice’s misadventures, splendidly costumed and gloriously danced…an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole and the season’s grandest production!
Wednesday, April 11, 7:30 PM (Preview)
Thursday, April 12, 7:30 PM (Opening)
Friday, April 13, 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 14, 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 15, 1:30 PM & 7:30 PM
Music by Matthew Pierce
Choreography by Septime Webre
Costume Design by Liz Vandal
Scenic Design by Jim Kronzer
Puppets by Eric J. Van Wyk
Lighting Design by Clifton Taylor
Fabric Digital Printing, Glossy Finish and Swarovski Elements Appliqué by Diane Beaudoin, Masking Technologies & Innovations (MTI)
Costume Graphic Design by Julie Castan
Performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Eisenhower Theater
ABOUT THE WASHINGTON BALLET
Originally founded as The Washington School of Ballet in 1944 by legendary ballet pioneer Mary Day and incorporated as a professional company in 1976, The Washington Ballet (TWB) is one of the pre-eminent ballet organizations in the United States. TWB built an international reputation presenting bold works by choreographers from around the world, including Choo-San Goh, Christopher Wheeldon, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp and Nacho Duato, as well as Neoclassical masterworks and fresh stagings of 19th century classics. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Septime Webre and Executive Director Peter M. Branch, TWB has embraced a three-part mission: ensuring excellence in its professional performance company; growing the next generation of dancers through its Washington School of Ballet; and serving the community in which it resides through robust community engagement programs.
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