Ensemble going down the rabbit hole in ballet


While backstage before the Central Indiana Dance Ensemble’s first performance of “Alice in Wonderland,” Lily Guntz expects to be excited and nervous.

But the Carmel High School junior knows any jitters will disappear when the lights come up and the music starts.

“It will all fade away,” said Guntz, who will be dancing as the lead character Alice. “I can do what I love, and that is to dance with all my heart.”

Guntz, 16, is one of about 70 dancers, ages 6 to 18, who will perform in “Alice in Wonderland” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 20 and 1 and 4:30 p.m. May 21 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets are $35 each ($25 for students 18 and younger) and available at cidedance.org.

The Central Indiana Dance Ensemble most recently performed “Alice in Wonderland,” based on the 1865 English novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, in 2016, according to Ashley Jacobs, co-artistic director for the ensemble.

“‘Alice in Wonderland’ is my favorite spring ballet that we do,” Jacobs said. “The costumes, lighting, sets and backdrops really draw the audience onto the stage so they can really immerse themselves in the story.”

Dancers will tell the whimsical story of Alice, who goes down the rabbit hole and encounters such characters as the White Rabbit, the Hatter and the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland.

The biggest challenge to staging it as a ballet is conveying Alice’s travels through each scene and accurately portraying each character, Jacobs said. The costumes, makeup and backdrops are integral to telling a story that has broad appeal.

“It’s quirky, it’s fun, it tells a story,” Jacobs said. “We also have young dancers in the cast, and it’s a comedy, so we always hope to see a diverse audience.”

Guntz, who has been dancing since age 2, looks forward to performing in it.

“Dancing as Alice is a dream come true,” she said. “I never thought that I would be given this opportunity this early in my career and am so immensely grateful.”