Nine transport trucks carrying sets, 193 costumes, 75 wigs and 250 sets of pointe shoes, not to mention the 103 personnel who also must travel — the National Ballet of Canada’s tour to Los Angeles is a major undertaking.
But when the dancers take to the stage at the Los Angeles Music Center Friday night, it will be a milestone appearance.
The Toronto-based National Ballet has not toured to Los Angeles in 35 years, and it is making the U.S. debut of its new production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, created by British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. His striking version of the children’s classic sold out when it premiered in Toronto in 2011.
The L.A. appearance is an important chance for the company to show its international stature, after a decade in which it hasn’t been possible to tour outside Canada — because it’s just too expensive.
As the CBC's Deana Sumanac reports, National Ballet artistic director Karen Kain was determined to get the company back on the world stage.
She tapped major donors to pay for the tour and drew on her international connections as a former principal dancer to get engagements for the company. Alice was a co-production with the U.K.’s Royal Ballet, and the excitement generated by a new work from one of the world's most in-demand young choreographers helped obtain interest in the U.S.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will play five performances in Los Angeles, and the National Ballet will also take it to Washington's Kennedy Centre in January.
Next year, there’s more touring to come, as dancers head to London's famous Sadler's Wells, with the National Ballet's production of Romeo and Juliet.
The National Ballet season opens Nov. 10 in Toronto, with more of Alice, starring Heather Ogden, Sonia Rodriguez, Jillian Vanstone and Elena Lobsanova in the lead role.