Choreographer Mark Foehringer is no stranger to making dances for young audiences: his Nutcracker Sweets, a 50-minute reduction of Tchaikovsky’s ballet is tailored to the shorter attention span of young children. This weekend and next, he presents Alice in Wonderland at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.
Using the experience of nine seasons of Sweets, Foehringer has used the same philosophy for this production. “When we made Nutcracker Sweets, we were able to really observe what’s exciting and fun for the kids that were in the audience. So, as we put together Alice in Wonderland, that’s the first way that we went at it. What things are going to be exciting for children?” The 8 dancers are accompanied by a 10-instrument reduction of the score for Saint-Saens’ ballet Javotte (Foehringer says before the show, they’ll have an ‘instrument parade’ with a chance to show the kids what each of them sounds like.) “Part of what we do is, we want the kids to have their first experience with live theater with us. Or their first dance experience with live dance. So live music is really an important part of that.” There will be oversized props and colorful costumes, puppets, and projections to help keep scene changes to a minimum. The adaptation makes some changes for the new generation of kids. “It’s all inspired by the same characters, but we sort of put a girl-power twist on Alice. She’s not just stumbling through a world where everything is crazy, she’s sort of using her superpower of kindness and tolerance to deal with the different situations she’s in.”