Hope College’s Ballet Club put on “Wonderland” on April 8, 9 and 10. The show told the story of “Alice in Wonderland” through costumes, backdrops and ballet, and the cast was made up entirely of Hope students. The performance was also directed by Hope students Christina Sarosiek (’16), Elise Riddel (’17) and Emily Mejicano-Gormely (’18).
The three student directors told audiences at the beginning of the shows that everyone who auditioned for “Wonderland” was given a part. The cast was made up of over 20 Hope students, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Alexander Pasker (’19) played the Mad Hatter, Chris Seto (’16) played the White Rabbit and Maddie King (’19) played the Queen of Hearts. Blair Vanderkin (’18) led the show as Alice.
“I had a lot of rehearsals because Alice is in the entire show,” Vanderkin said. “But it was so fun bringing the story to life. I had three little kids invite me to their birthday party after one performance.”
“Wonderland” didn’t take place in a theatre, and instead, it was held in the Dow. Rows of chairs were set up in a dance studio facing a white stage, complete with large panels and a large white backdrop. Changing and moving images were projected onto the backdrop during scenes.
For example, for the opening scene dancers performed in front of projected trees and flowers. However, when Alice grows in size, images of chairs and a table grew smaller.
There were also a few props onstage as well. A table was wheeled out for the tea party scene. Pots of flowers were also incorporated into the set and were used when Alice is accused of painting the Queen of Heart’s roses red.
The show also featured student choreographers. Each choreographer worked on different scenes and worked with different characters. One choreographer, Katie McMorris (’17), who is also president of Ballet Club, worked with King on the Queen’s solo.
“At the beginning, Maddie and I discussed not only the choreography itself but also the intention of the character,” McMorris said. “We worked with Maddie’s strengths as a dancer and how that could factor into the intimidating nature of the Queen. For example, Maddie loves jumps, so we experimented with leaps that felt powerful to fit the character. Maddie played a crucial role in bringing the character to life!”
Ballet Club is open to any Hope student regardless of dance experience. It puts on a performance annually, although there is no word yet whether next year’s show will be “Wonderland” again.
“It’s up to the show’s directors to decide,” McMorris said. “But whatever it is, I’m sure it will be just as successful as this year’s.”
Regardless of what next year’s show will be, members of Ballet Club encourage any Hope student to join. Jessica Farhat (’18), who played the Dodo Bird, described her growth from joining Ballet Club and performing in “Wonderland.”
“I got a chance to meet a lot of new friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” Farhat said. She played the Dodo Bird in the production. “I also got the opportunity to continue dancing. Dancing is my passion, and it was wonderful to be a part of such an amazing, dedicated, unique group of dancers.”
Vanderkin had a similar experience.
“I made so many great friendships and am so thankful for what a fun experience ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has been,” she said. “The cast bonded over our many rehearsals and tech practices, and we were so rewarded when we got to show a bit of our joy for dance with others.