Every December, Moving Light Dance Company presents its popular “Green Mountain Nutcracker” at the Barre Opera House, but the company’s annual spring performance is just as engaging and entertaining.
The spring show always tells a classic children’s story; past productions have included “Peter Pan,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.” This year the dance company returns to the Barre Opera House with an original interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s imaginative “Alice in Wonderland,” at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 2.
“I really love performing in these ballets because there is always a story,” said Ruby Bryant, who has the role of the Queen of Hearts this year. “Moving Light does a really good job of integrating the whole school into the performances, and it is really fun to do a performance as a whole school.”
“Our original ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was created in 2013,” said Moving Light founder Christine Harris. “I was very excited to create a chance to further develop the production as far as adding new pieces and choreography. The story with its many characters, oddities and wonders works for the large talented cast.”
The production’s cast of well-known colorful characters, from the illusive White Rabbit, to the mysterious Cheshire Cat, cranky Queen of Hearts and philosophical Caterpillar, are brought to life by a 100-member, all-ages ensemble of local dancers.
“We are using colorful and masterfully crafted set pieces,” Harris said. “Especially the giant mushroom, which transforms to be the grassy knoll where Alice meets the White Rabbit.”
This year, the dancer who portrayed Little Alice in the scene where she shrinks is graduating, and she’s Little Alice’s opposite, Big Alice. “I felt like it would be a great role for her to revisit as she heads out into the world as a young adult,” Harris said.
“I’m graduating this year from the company so this is a big fun role for me to play as my last role,” said Isabella LoRe, (pronounced L0-ray) who plays Alice. “I have a picture of me when I was 8 in our matching outfits as Little Alice and Big Alice, and now I get to do that this year as Big Alice.”
Bryant, as the Queen of Hearts, said, “I get to be mean, silly and arrogant all at the same time!”
“I am usually cast as more motherly characters, like Mrs. Darling in ‘Peter Pan’,” she said. “I am used to acting smiley and happy on stage, but for the Queen of Hearts I have to do the complete opposite! I try to think of times when I have gotten really mad at someone and try to act like that while I am dancing. I have been reading the Alice in Wonderland book to try to get into character too. This character has been a challenge for me, but it has been really fun to experiment with different ways to express the Queen’s madness and craziness.”
LoRe says the story stays true to Lewis Carroll’s version, rather than the Disney version, and the company uses clever ways to portray some of the tricky scenes on stage.
“How we do it is so creative and looks really amazing,” LoRe said. “We have shadow manipulation with the lights, it’s enchanting and really fun to watch.”
Rehearsals began early in the week and run daily until opening, and LoRe says that’s part of the fun.
“It makes me feel accomplished to be able to work so hard on something and see it come to fruition,” she said. “We’re not individuals, we really are a team, and I see that come together in this performance, and it means so much to me to be part of this family where we’re working together to make something.”
“It’s a great blend of funny and serious,” LoRe added. “The story itself is unique and unlike any other dance performance you’ll see.”