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I was delighted to be asked to review the On Pointe production of Alice in Wonderland, as I love to encourage young people in performance, and with dance being my first love this was a particularly rewarding experience.

I fully appreciate the planning and dedication of Dan and Amanda Keating, along with their team, but the end product was certainly a testament to everyone’s hard work.

I loved the fusion of dance skills within the piece, with Wonderland High, and then the more familiar story – it gave everyone, in what was essentially an ensemble piece, the chance to showcase their own particular skills.

The use of projection, which is so current, lifted the production to a very high standard, I loved the use of the colourful back projection, and the narration to set the scene.  Particularly pleasing to the eye was the scene with the very young children as flowers – it filled the stage with colour, and the little ones were very well-schooled.  I know it is difficult to stop with the younger ones, and I‘m sure you tell them, but waving at their mum’s and dad’s is not an option!!

For many of the dancers it was their first chance to perform on stage in a professional theatre, and I applaud the Academy for recognising this as an essential part of a dancers training.  Nothing beats using a professional stage as a learning tool.

The very young dancers were an absolute joy, whilst the older dancers looked as if they relished the opportunity.  The girls were on the whole very expressive, although a few needed a little more animation in their faces, which would add interest, as it’s not all about looking at their feet!!  Some of the boys needed a bit of work on the expression front, but good to see them on stage.  

Although essentially an ensemble piece, I would like to mention a few of the characters who shone in their named roles.  Evie Brewer as Alice, showed a good level of accomplishment in all forms of dance.  Emily Lyons was the White Queen, and I particularly warmed to her performance, as she has an expressive face and always looked fully engaged with what she was portraying.  Both these girls showed flexibility, and beautifully pulled up knees where required.

The scene where Alice got smaller was well-managed, with the door projection making the scene work.

Madeline Ellis was a cheeky White Rabbit, whilst the ‘twins’ Tweedledum and Tweedledee were played with good comedy value by Jack Gorgone and Riley Jevon.

Jessica Hayes gave us a really feisty Red Queen, plenty of aggressive expression here, along with her great entourage, I really enjoyed their dance, and also the Flamingoes, whilst Jack Whitworth was a good Mad Hatter.

The Cheshire Cat was danced nicely by Ellie Wheatley, who started off a little stern looking but then relaxed and smiled which brought her face and make up to life.  

It was good to see so many boys and young men taking part, and also that the acrobatic side of dance was being addressed for everyone, as it is so much part of the discipline these days.

The costumes were excellent throughout, no mean feat, and a big well done to your team.

Overall, a super production – I was very impressed on all levels, that the performers completely bought in to, making it an uplifting experience and one that the Academy and all the performer’s families could justly be very proud of.

I look forward to reviewing your summer production.

On Pointe Dance Academy - 31st Jan 2016


Devised & Directed by:  Daniel Keating and his team

The Grove Theatre, Dunstable


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