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Head down the rabbit hole at Whitney High

Placer Theatre Ballet’s “Alice in Wonderland” takes to the stage
By: Bridget Jones, Special to The Placer Herald
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A new rendition of a classic story is dancing through Whitney High School Theater. Placer Theatre Ballet will be opening its fourth production of “Alice in Wonderland” April 18. This is the first production the group has performed at Whitney High School. John Daleo, president of Placer Theatre Ballet, said Pat Bartholomew-Colgate, founder of Placer Theatre Ballet, enjoys using ballet to perform stories for audiences, and “Alice” is the perfect story. “It’s just magical,” Daleo said. “Pat really enjoys performing a story in the ballet, and this is one kids can relate to. There’re a lot of good roles for children.” Placer Theatre Ballet dancers range in age from 5 to 17 years old, with a couple of adults joining in. Dancers hail from several local areas including Rocklin, Loomis, Lincoln, Roseville and Auburn. Daleo said an important quality of this and other Placer Theatre Ballet productions is that dancers of all ages perform parts specific to their talents, and newer dancers are not expected to give the same performance as more advanced dancers. “That’s the beauty of Pat,” Daleo said. “Pat works to bring out the talent in all the dancers that participate. She works with the dancers in what they do in their characters. She works with the dancers to bring out the best they can be.” Audiences will easily be able to follow the story line if they have seen the Disney-animated version of “Alice in Wonderland,” Daleo said. “It is very much like the Disney (version). If you were to watch the Disney performance, you’d see a lot of similarities in character,” he said. Bartholomew-Colgate said there are a couple small changes to the character line-up in this production of “Alice,” including the addition of a character known as the Red King and the removal of the White Knight character. The Red King is a perfect addition to this performance because of the comedic talent of the dancer playing the role, Bartholomew-Colgate said. “The little boy that’s (performing) it … he just loves his part,” she said. “It’s not a big part, but it can be, because he makes the part. It’s very funny if I do say so myself.” Rocklin resident Chloe Valentine, 15, who plays “Big Alice,” said the show has a lot to offer audiences. “I think that the show’s really colorful and there’re a lot of fun characters,” Valentine said. “It’s not like a typical ballet - it’s more crazy and fun.” Lincoln resident Darian Kane, 12, said she really enjoys her character because she can relate to it. “I’m the White Rabbit and I’m really obsessed with being on time,” Kane said. “It’s fun being that character because that’s really how I am. A lot of my choreography is really quick because I’m supposed to be late, so the audience can really tell the message about my character. I like my choreography because it’s fun to do.” Valentine said she likes that she and her fellow dancers play off each other on stage, including one scene in which a baby pig prop is tossed back and forth between the cook and duchess characters. “There’re a lot of interactive things that you do, and it’s really fun to work with people like that,” she said. “It’s a lot of pulling on each other … it’s a lot of stuff like that. It’s crazy.” Valentine said it’s been really rewarding to work with Kane because it’s brought them closer together as friends. “I think it’s fun because we’re in it together so much, and we’ve gotten to know each other really well,” Valentine said. “Our chemistry works really well together. In this show, a lot of the time we’re laughing too much when we need to be looking worried or something, so it’s funny and it’s fun.” Kane said her character’s interaction with Valentine’s character is a challenging part of the production. “My characters is supposed to be annoyed with Alice, so I have to try to be annoyed with (Chloe), and that’s hard because I’m not annoyed with her,” Kane said. “I just have so much fun working with Chloe.” Rocklin resident Emily Smith, 6, who plays “Little Alice,” said she enjoys everything about this production including working with older dancers and several of her friends. “(It’s) awesome,” Smith said. “It’s fun – I learn a lot from it.” Bartholomew-Colgate said the choreography for this production hasn’t changed much compared to past renditions of “Alice in Wonderland.” “I think we’re sticking to the main choreography because, if I say so myself, it’s just such a wonderful comedic performance,” she said. The development of the dancers’ talents has been amazing, Bartholomew-Colgate said. “Each time I do this production, it seems to get better,” she said. “We did one month of rehearsals – I could have put this production on a month ago, that’s how well they did.” On April 18, a tea party brunch will take place at Buonarroti Ristorante at 460 G St. in Lincoln before the 1 p.m. performance. Those interested in more information on the brunch can call Placer Theatre Ballet. Kane said she hopes audiences will come experience this production in order to break common stereotypes about ballet. “Don’t be afraid to come just because there’s no words in it,” Kane said. “A lot of people think ballet, because there’re no words, there’s no plot and it’s just dancing, and that’s not true.” “Alice in Wonderland” When: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday April 18, 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday April 19 Where: Whitney High School Theater, 701 Wildcat Blvd., Rocklin Tickets: $17 each Web site: placertheatreballet.org Call: 630-7820 Bridget Jones can be reached at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com.