Quote of the Day: Press release from Ballet Co. Laboratory

ST. PAUL, MINN. (November 15, 2021) – This holiday season, Ballet Co.Laboratory presents a
traditional classic with an enchanting twist. Nutcracker in Wonderland will be performed on December
11-12, 2021 at Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. A tale for a modern era,
this original ballet sparkles with seasonal magic and gives a nod to the progress in our ever-changing
world. Weaving together storylines and characters from The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland, this
reimagination of two quintessential tales follows a grown-up Clara on a whimsical adventure of selfdiscovery.
With a cast of 100 dancers from the professional Company and School of Ballet Co.Laboratory, this
production gives new meaning to the famous Tchaikovsky Nutcracker score. While many characters in
Nutcracker in Wonderland will be recognizable to audiences, there is one notable difference – there is
no Nutcracker Prince. Instead, there is Alice, a childhood friend of Clara’s who challenges her to live
boldly and believe in herself.

Artistic Director and Choreographer Zoé Emilie Henrot believes it is stories like Nutcracker in
Wonderland that will begin to change the historical perception of what ballet is and who it is for. While
the Nutcracker ballet has long been a holiday tradition, Ballet Co.Laboratory’s production is one of the
first full-length versions to remove the racial stereotypes that appear in Act II of the original ballet.
There is no trip to the Land of Sweets in this version. Rather, Alice and Clara take on the fierce Rat
Queen, waltz through the Land of the Snowflakes, and embark on an adventure through the mysterious

This production is just one example of the organization’s work to move ballet into the 21st century while
developing a new standard for the art form. “The Nutcracker ballet was created in 1892…129 years ago.
As a choreographer, it is important to me to create art that imitates life, which means that like life
around us, art must continually change as well,” shares Zoé Emilie Henrot. Ballet Co.Laboratory
continues to encourage artists and arts patrons to seek out discovery over fear and foster originality over
stereotypes. Nutcracker in Wonderland is a prime example of this. Henrot adds, “how much more
magical is the art of ballet when we mirror the society we live in? I think that is a tradition to keep alive
in the years to come.”

As the curtain rises on this year’s production, audiences will be treated to new characters, expanded
scenes, and refreshed choreography. To complete patrons’ holiday experience, Ballet Co.Laboratory will
also treat their guests to pre-show carols and a chance to “mingle and jingle” after performances with
professional dancers.

Tea Party, Nutcracker in Wonderland. Karin Lynn Photography

I got a sneak peak of a rehearsal for this creative and beautiful ballet, combining two beloved tales. You can read the press release, above, to get details on how and why they decided to make this creative change. It looks wonderful. 

Queen of Hearts – Karin Lynn Photography

The Ballet Co.Laboratory is combining characters from Clara in The Nutcracker with Alice in Wonderland. Dancers will portray the Cheshire Cat, dancing roses, and items found at a tea party, and many more. They will use projections for backdrop and movable set pieces, as well as a growing Christmas tree to stage this production. Audience members will hear carolers as they walk in the lobby of the Ted Mann Concert Hall. They will also have coloring sheets and Nutcracker in Wonderland themed cookies for sale at the concessions. Their hope is to create a magical experience that families will be talking about on their way home from the performance and into the holiday season.

Rat Queen – Karin Lynn Photography

As you can see from these gorgeous press photos, the costumes are spectacular, and the dancers look amazing! I was able to watch last year’s performance of The Snow Queen, virtually, and loved it. I can’t wait for a chance to see it in person next year. The company will be rotating three shows, Nutcracker in Wonderland, The Snow Queen, and one that is still in development, every three years, giving performers and audiences a chance to experience a variety of performances for the holiday season.

Snowflakes – Karin Lynn Photography

You have only one weekend to catch this stunning ballet. December 11-12. Visit the website for Ballet Co. Laboratory to get your tickets! 

The Ballet Co. Laboratory strives to create an accessible dance experience for individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. They have dancers of all shapes, sizes, abilities and cultural backgrounds. They also offer scholarship and work study opportunities. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What are your favorite characters from holiday stories?