Alice – Wonderland Through The Looking Glass offers a brand-new ballet for Horsham’s Capitol on Tuesday, October 8.
It also offers a first full-length ballet in around 20 years for Shannon Parker, San Francisco Ballet and Northern Ballet principal and Britain’s Got Talent finalist.
The starting point is that Alice is now an aspiring writer working in a tea-shop. Overworked and underpaid, she reflects that life seemed much more exciting when she was a child.
But The Looking Glass has remained in Wonderland as a portal to our world, which the Queen of Hearts accidentally crosses when chasing a croquet ball.
Entering this new reality, she develops a dastardly plan to seize power by opening a casino where she can create an Army of Cards.
Hatter and his gang of concerned Wonderland characters pursue the Queen, and on their journey they are delighted to find Alice again…
Playing Alice will be Shannon who is delighted to return for her second show with Chantry Dance Company.
“They usually do one a year, and last year they did Dracula. That was my first season with them, and it was fantastic. It was a really, really good experience. It was really well received and it was great to do my first full-length ballet again for a long, long time.
“I retired when I was 38, and this is my first full-length ballet for 20 odd years. Society thinks you should retire at a certain point, but the point is that everyone is different. It was a good thing for me to do because I was wanting to have a child, but I really appreciate the fact that I have had the chance to come back now.
“I learnt such a lot about myself in the time that I was away. And I think it was good for me. Being a mother means that dancing is not the only thing in your life. You have got a child that is dependent on you, and I think that means that you are able to relax into the work more. It definitely helped me relax.
“Dance is a very self-consuming art. You can get a little bit self-absorbed when you are in that dance bubble, but happily my child was able to prick that bubble!
“What I like about this company is the way they tell the stories. They put a lot of thought into it. Sometimes they write their own stories. Generally, they rewrite a traditional story so that they put their own little twist or mark on it. But I love the way the choreography generally blends with the story-telling.
“I am playing Alice. We know Alice from when she was young, but this is Alice when she has matured. She is older.
“She is working. She is trying to write a book. She is working in a café which is not what she wants in life. She wants a book to be published. She is not jaded. But she is frustrated, I would say.
“But the Wonderland characters come into Alice’s world. They are references to the characters that we all know and love. She knows she is worth more in her life, and these wonderful characters are her fantasy, what brings her happiness.”
Originally Shannon is from the States: “I grew up in Las Vegas, but I have been here for 27 years. Work brought me here. I joined Northern Ballet Theatre. I was with them for three years. I thought I would just be here for a year. I wanted to experience life with another company and work with another director and to see what that would bring out in me.
“But I really only thought I would be here for a year. I was getting married to an American guy but it didn’t turn out that way. Life changed. I didn’t marry that guy. I broke his heart a little bit.
“But it is a long time ago now. I have been here 27 years. I love England. My children have been born and raised here. I miss America. I miss my immediate family, but I feel so happy that England is home.”