‘Alice in Wonderland’ to premiere at the Lexington Opera House

Lauryn Haas

Alice has fallen down the rabbit hole again, but this time Wonderland looks a lot like Lexington.

Alice in Wonderland is a new addition to the Bluegrass Youth Ballet repertoire and will premiere this weekend at the Lexington Opera House. Planning began in the summer of 2017. Adalhi Aranda, the founder and director of Bluegrass Youth Ballet, chose the ballet because “it’s a story with many, many characters, and, well… anything goes.”

Aranda founded the Bluegrass Youth Ballet in 2003 after moving to the United States from Mexico in 1994. As a professional dancer, teacher and founder of a ballet school in Guadalajara, Aranda recognized a need for a “positive, safe environment for children to learn ballet” in Lexington. She had encountered ballet programs with “ugly, harsh environments” full of “negativity, politics and demeaning behaviors,” and she thought aspiring ballet dancers deserved better.  

“I wanted to create a space where youth was the emphasis and where children could safely learn the art of ballet while learning about different cultures, body awareness, teamwork, discipline and enhancing our community,” Aranda said.

In 2007, BYB became a non-profit organization, and it currently serves more than 250 students from all over the world. One-hundred-eighty of those students between the ages of 5 and 18 will be performing in ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Auditions and rehearsals began in January, and the students have been preparing ever since for the March performances.

A Mad Hatter Tea Party will be held at Pardy’s Pub following the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 31. The Alice in Wonderland cast will be attending the after party, and tickets cost $9 for all other attendees.

The performances are attracting not just the families of the performers but Alice in Wonderland enthusiasts from all over Kentucky. Tamara Campbell lives in Hyden, Kentucky, and will be coming to Lexington to see the show.

“Alice in Wonderland is honestly one of my all-time favorite movies and books. So, when I saw there was going to be a live [show] being done in Lexington, I knew I’d have to check it out.”

The Bluegrass Youth Ballet’s slogan “No Dream is Too BIG!” reminds the dancers that anything is possible. 

“To [the students] and to us, it means that we can do anything that we put effort into; it’s possible,” Aranda said. “And it all starts with a dream.”