On 25 December De Dutch Don’t Dance Division open their latest production of Carl Davis’ ballet Alice in Wonderland, choreographed by Thom Stuart and Rinus Sprong for Amare in The Hague. Marking the Jubilee year artist of graphic artist M.C. Escher, the production incorporates the symmetries, patterns, and optical illusions of his work into both set design and choreography, vividly realising the surreal, logic-defying character of Lewis Carroll’s story – watch the trailer for Alice in Escherland here.

De Dutch Don’t Dance Division previously staged Alice in Winter Wonderland in 2018 and 2016, in a 78-minute version of the ballet created especially for the company, performed by the Residentie Orkest and conducted by Davis himself. In 2019 they mounted Davis’ A Christmas Carol over the festive period, with Dane Lam conducting the Residentie Orkest.

Alice in Wonderland was Davis’ second treatment of Caroll’s story, following his 1986 musical. A ballet ‘after Tchaikovsky’, Davis mined numerous works from the Russian composer’s output for the 100-minute score. As well as piano and chamber music, Davis turned to Tchaikovsky’s incidental music for Hamlet for its fanfares and marches, as well as the seldom-performed opera The Maid of Orleans and his symphonic fantasy on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The ballet’s grand waltz comes from the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5, and his 24 short piano pieces Children’s Album provided material for many of the solo sequences in the ballet. Davis recorded the score with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010.

Alice in Wonderland debuted with English National Ballet at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton in 1995, choreographed by Derek Deane. It has received over 150 performances since its creation, including visits to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Hong Kong’s Grand Theatre with English National Ballet, and Portugal’s Companhia Nacional de Bailado. Ballet was a major creative preoccupation of the last decade of Davis’ career, when he created four full-length works: Nijinsky (2016) Chaplin, The Tramp (2019), The Great Gatsby (2019) and, finally, Le Fantôme et Christine with Derek Deane, which premiered at the Shanghai Ballet in May 2023.

In June 2024 the National Ballet of Japan will present Davis’ Aladdin with the Tokyo Philharmonic at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, conducted by Paul Murphy, choreographed by Sir David Bintley. Davis’ evocative score, which incorporates elements from both Indian and Chinese classical traditions, was first created for Robert Cohan and Scottish Ballet in 2000. A new version was created by Bintley and the National Ballet of Japan in 2008 which received its UK premiere with Birmingham Royal Ballet in 2013, followed by a US tour with Houston Ballet and a Tokyo revival in 2016.