60 dancers ready for `Alice'

American premiere of Greenston work is set this weekend

May 18, 2000|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It was a year ago that Kathi Ferguson, director of the Howard County Ballet, began collaborating with choreographer Stephen Greenstonon a production of "Alice in Wonderland" to be produced in Columbia.

It was Greenston, an American choreographer and former principal dancer with Germany's Stuttgart Ballet, who choreographed the familiar Lewis Carroll tale to an original score by composer Braxton Blake.

Hard work and prodigious planning have paid off, for Greenston's American premiere of "Alice in Wonderland" is scheduled this weekend at Jim Rouse Theatre for Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School."It is uncommon these days for a story ballet like `Alice' to be put together with an original musical composition," Ferguson says. "It takes a lot of effort and some high operating costs to do that, and ballets are awfully expensive to mount."

But "Alice" was produced in Stuttgart 14 years ago, and the production is poised for its U.S. debut.

More than 60 dancers ages 6 to 55 are ready to take the stage for this bright, colorful piece filled with some of the most indelible and lovable characters ever crafted.

Ferguson, a Rockville native who has been directing the Howard County Ballet for six seasons and her Aesthetics Dance Studio for a decade, singles out dances by the Rabbit, the Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat as highlights of the production.

Everyone's favorite group number seems to be the "Lobster Quadrille," which is guaranteed to get toes tapping, onstage or off.

Ferguson is quick to compliment Blake's score as a major force in propelling the piece forward."It really is charming," she says. "The music mixes the full capabilities of a modern orchestra with attractive tunes and some very odd rhythms. It's all quite lovely and quite unique. We're just thrilled to be presenting this here."

Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Matinees are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and children. Tickets and information: 410-465-8233.

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