Posted in Show

Alice in Wonderland Incorporates Classic European Tale with Indian Music and Dance

Follow Alice down the rabbit hole and meet the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Red Rani and other favorites in this adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale with an Indian twist. Filled with all original music, this dance drama is an entertaining show for all ages.

Conceived by two native Austinites, writer and director Kanaka Sathasivan and lyricist Arati Warrier, Alice in Wonderland incorporates concepts from ancient Indian philosophy, theatrical theory and old-fashioned nonsense.

“We wanted a show that anyone could appreciate, whether for the music, the dancing, the costumes or the culture,” said Sathasivan, director of production company Natya Sabhai Arts. “Alice is a ten-year old girl, and we get to experience this vibrant and confusing world right alongside her.”

Sathasivan teaches and choreographes Bharathanatyam, a classical dance form from South India. She has also worked on dozens of theatrical productions in cities across the United States as a lighting designer and stage manager.

“I initially started Natya Sabhai Arts in 2009 to provide theatrical expertise to Indian choreographers and directors so they could communicate with venues and technicians,” Sathasivan said. “I could speak with the American crew in theater terms and with the Indian artists in Sanskrit terms.”

Working in this unique blended environment inspired Alice in Wonderland, written completely in English but set with Indian music and dance.

The project started as a local concept, but soon grew into an international effort. Original sets and costumes are being created in Austin, the music was composed and recorded in Chennai, India, and both Texas and Indian talent lent their voices to the characters. In addition to directing, Sathasivan worked with acclaimed choreographer P. Narendra Kumar to capture the essence of each scene.

The show is being performed primarily by students of Natyalaya School of Dance, under producer Vinitha Subramanian, and is supported by Dance International, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the instruction of dance and other art forms, movement and wellness. The project is also supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

Alice in Wonderland will be performed April 20, 2019, at 2 p.m. at William B. Travis High School.