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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Alice In Wonderland - A Japanese Connection

This one is for my gal pal Alice, who is both an Alice In Wonderland fan (as am I), and a former dancer (I can dance - shake ma groove thang - but my only catch with professional dancers is that I have probably had more of an appreciation of the spandex ballet form, rather than the tutu wearing variety).

When she and I first met some five years ago, Alice would send me videos of interpretive dancers (female with male) to share her love of the art form.

I don't pretend to understand the nuances, but I do know what I like, and I liked the emotion both the music and the dance evoked within me. It was… seductive. I guess I was finally growing up.

What we have here in this blog, is a mention of a ballet about Alice In Wonderland, and strangely enough my tiny dancer did not provide the lead to this. Oh well, ya can't have everything.

So… we have Alice, Alice In Wonderland, ballet… and holy cow, how could this possibly have a Japanese angle?

Meet the woman who dances as Alice in the ballet—Onuki Maki (surname first). That's her below and at the very top as the Ace of Hearts. That top photo is by Dean Alexander, produced by Design Army.

Not in Alice garb, but I like the cut of Onuki's gib in this sexy photo.
Now… this isn't a new ballet… in fact The Washington Ballet's Alice In Wonderland actually debuted back in 2012. Sorry… If I was ahead of the curve, I probably would have missed the curve completely.

Onuki, now 29, was born and grew up in Yokohama, Japan, first twirling on her toes at a ballet school at the age of 4.

By the time she was 12, she knew she wanted to be a professional ballet dancer—a fact perhaps propelled by having an older brother, Masayoshi, who is also a ballet dancer.

I'm going to pull data from the Washington Ballet's website for more on Onuki:

(Onuki) is in her 11th season with The Washington Ballet after one season with TWB’s Studio Company. Before joining TWB, Onuki danced with Goh Ballet in (Vancouver) Canada under Choo Chiat Goh and Lin Yee Goh. She trained at John Cranko Ballet School under the direction of Tadeusz Matacz, and at Mika Sasaki Ballet Academy under Mika Sasaki and Mikio Ikehata. Additionally, she attended Boston Ballet’s summer program on scholarship. Onuki has performed in numerous classical ballets including Serenade, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Diana and Acteon, Carnival of Venice, La Sylphide, Romeo + Juliet, the Esmeralda pas des deux, The Sleeping Beauty, Flames of Paris and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Onuki has performed in contemporary works by Christopher Bruce, Edwaard Liang, Karole Armitage, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, Twyla Tharp and Trey McIntyre. She has received numerous awards including the 2010 bronze medal at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi and a MetroDC Dance Award for Outstanding Individual Performance for Wunderland by Edwaard Liang in 2011.

It's nice that race or color wasn't a huge concern for the Washington Ballet in selecting the talented Onuki to play the lead role. After all, being able to move and entice the audience is truly the key factor.

Here's a three-minute video of Onuki's work as Alice:

Now… despite the ballet having debuted over three years ago, artistic director of the Washington Ballet and choreographer of Alice In Wonderland, Septime Webre and the main cast still seem to have audiences enthralled in 2015.

Says Webre: “She’s this unusual technician who dances with such fearlessness.

“She’s got an amazing world-class technique. … She’s just got this amazing jump that comes out of nowhere and almost looks like she’s completely effortless, and she’s got a lot of moxie too, so it was a real natural fit.”

Moxie? Yeah, see... the gal's got moxie. (You have to say it like you are Edward G. Robinson. Nyahhhh).

They're just a pack of cards! Squish them with those powerful, sexy thighs of yours!
Are they still performing this ballet? No idea. I took a look at the Washington Ballet's calendar which posted events through to June, but I could not find Alice listed.

I did note, however, that along with Onuki, the company had two other dancers of Japanese extraction: Miyazaki Tamako (Tokyo), Kimura Ayano (born in Germany).

Alice… this blog is for you.

Somewhere t'was brillig so am having tea,
Andrew "We're all mad here" Joseph

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