Alice Takes Wonderland is being presented by NAO Dance Collective at Dickson Azalea Park (100 Rosegarden Dr) on January 13th. I had never been to the park before. It is gorgeous with a stream meandering down its length and dirt trails over small hills and under a bridge. Tr3 Harris an Urban Artist designed and painted this backdrop. When I arrived, people were crowded around a U-Haul truck. Linda Eve Elchak the company's founder and choreographer, was standing next to the drivers door and she jumped, squatted and stretched. She shouted, "Getting pumped up! Getting ready! This is the fun part, watching it all fall together!"
They unloaded Tr3's panels and dancers and choreographers walked the parks narrow paths to get the set in place. Linda shouted, "Look at us, Navy Seals!"When the panels and red bench were in place, Tr3 spoke with me about the panels. This is the largest panels he has worked on to date. The white markings on the black ground were inspired by Mayan, Egyptian and Urban graffiti roots. He mentioned the work of an LA graffiti artist called LA II. When I mentioned Keth Haring's work Tr3 pointed out that LA2 was responsible for much of the sort of numeric letter imagery Haring adopted. Hidden in Tre's panels are words which are hard to find. LINDA is on the right side. There is a reverse square root sign and the word LOVE on the lower left. Letters are broken apart and sometimes reversed. When I blurred my eyes then the word would magically appear. He sketched in my notebook showing how certain letters were reversed in an old English style.
With my sketch finished, I decided to follow along as they did a full run through of the show. Micihael Sloan had a portable backpack sound system on his chest. He worked it using an iPhone. Each scene along the trail would have its own soundtrack. The test audience of stage moms and me waited at a small footbridge that gave access to the park. Alice, played by Catlin leafed through a book dreaming of what might lie on the opposite side of the bridge. Megan as the white rabbit hurried in frantically out of time. Reluctantly Alice followed. She turned to us and said, "Come on kids!" How wonderful, I thought, I'm a kid! Kim Matovina the assistant director of Nao took notes as we walked along following the performers..
Alice and the rabbit did an inverted mirroring of each others performance in front of Tr3's wall. I was really impressed by the sinewy, fluid contorted dance of the caterpillar metamorphosis by another Catlin. She arched her back and twisted in an amazing series of moves all while delivering lines. Most of the dancers in the show were young girls. Evelyn Reynoso who played the Mad Hatter was most seasoned and experienced dancer. She is also working with Drip Dance on International Drive. She wore a sporty blue beret and had blue lipstick to match. Her costume had fun quirky colored patches. She told me she would be pushing for a touch of French affectation because of the beret. In her performance she would freeze any time Alice wasn't touching her.
Megan as the Cheshire Cat straddled a small foot bridge which was trans-versed by a series of webs. Alice then met Tweedledee and Tweedledum under a large arching overpass. This scene offered some of the most energetic and humerus choreography. The show had a playful innocence to it with improvised dialogue and well rehearsed dance. Alice Takes Wonderland explores what it means to ‘grow up’ by taking a sentimental look at the value of childhood. Though geared for children it is suitable for all ages.
January 13th Show Times:
first show walk thru:
2:00p.m-2:45p.m (last show of the day)