Family : Eugene Ballet Suits Up for Fantasy 'Alice'


Take classical ballet, toss in fantasy masks and costumes, narration, floating jellyfish, a white rabbit and 8-foot-tall flamingos, and you have the Eugene Ballet Company's wacky adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," suitable for ballet and "Alice" fans ages 6 to adult.

Created by the company's choreographer and artistic director, Toni Pimble, "Alice" will be presented at Pepperdine University's Smothers Theatre on Saturday, along with two of Pimble's shorter works, "May Dances" and "Swan Lake Pas de Trois."

Pimble spoke about the ballet's family appeal from the company's Oregon home base.

"When I choreographed it, I used all English composers of this century--William Walton, Benjamin Britten, Percy Grainger and Malcolm Arnold--and I chose arrangements they did for British orchestras based on folk tunes, so the music is very accessible.

"Then the set designer we used, Francisco Reynders, is a very playful and imaginative person who created a set that is very childlike and charming. We have 56 costumes, ranging from 8-foot-tall flamingos and dancing lobsters, to a dancing tea table. Lynn Bowers is our costumer, and she did a fabulous job. You name it, everybody's in it. The costumes and masks are based on the (book's original) Tenniel drawings."

Pimble also incorporated elements of Carroll's interest in amateur photography and magic in the production and included four of Carroll's poems, which are spoken to the music.

The ballet opens with Carroll himself onstage, writing the story, and then it follows Alice as she tumbles down the rabbit hole into her Wonderland adventures.

* "Alice in Wonderland," Smothers Auditorium, Pepperdine University, Malibu, Saturday, 8 p.m. $14-$25; (310) 456-4558.

Good Golly, Miss Molly: Little Richard, one of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers, will be in the spotlight today at House of Blues in West Hollywood for the International House of Blues Foundation's first closed-circuit educational program, to be shown to invited school groups only, at House of Blues clubs in Hollywood, New Orleans and Cambridge.

The 5th-12th graders have been given the opportunity to ask the rock legend questions through a video conferencing system as new part of the foundation's "Blues School House" series, geared to teach history through the arts and music.

Students are bused to the club's various locations three days a week to participate in the series, which regularly features a storytelling history session, an art tour of folk art and a musical interactive presentation. The series is not open to the general public. Teachers and parents interested in learning how their schools can become involved can call for "Blues School House" information at (213) 848-2527.

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