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A brand new 'Alice in Wonderland' ballet

Tabitha Alessi (second from right)

Tabitha Alessi (second from right) "Alice in Wonderland" ballet by Christopher Fleming performed by the Long Island Ballet Theatre at the Long Island School for the Performing Arts, Syosset, June 5 and 6, 2010. Photos by Len Marks Credit: Len Marks Photo/

If Tim Burton's 3-D interpretation of "Alice in Wonderland" - especially Johnny Depp's mad Mad Hatter - proved a bit too menacing for your kids, the Long Island Ballet Theatre has just the antidote.

Not that Saturday's premiere of a two-act ballet based on Lewis Carroll's down-the-rabbit-hole adventure is just for kids.

"We'd planned to do this before the movie," says choreographer Christopher Fleming, who, in his performing days with the New York City Ballet, danced principal roles created by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Peter Martins. Fleming described the 2009 Burton film as "sensational" - as in over-the-top.

" 'Alice' speaks to every age," he says. "So why not make a ballet of it? I went back to the basic story, the idea being, of course, that Alice goes on a journey and ends up back where she started."



It's also been a journey for Long Island Ballet Theatre, which changed its name last spring from Huntington Ballet Theatre to expand its audience and its

dancer/student base. Joan Albright, company director and co-founder of the Huntington Center for Performing Arts, where the troupe trains, brought Fleming aboard as resident choreographer about 18 months ago. (He also works for companies based in Las Vegas, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, Alabama and Puerto Rico.) We caught up with him by phone from San Juan, where he was rehearsing "Far Rockaway," a jazz piece. For Long Island Ballet's current season, which concludes this weekend, he created another original for Halloween, "Tales From the Crypt" - "not as scary as it sounds," he says - plus a mixed-bag of dances (including "Rockaway") for the annual gala. (The other production of the season was the de rigeur holiday classic "The Nutcracker.")

"We consider ourselves Long Island's connection to the professional dance world," she says.


THE ALICE OF DANCEThe title role in Fleming's "Alice," set to classical themes ranging from Verdi to Bernstein, will be danced by Huntington Ballet Academy alum Tabitha Alessi, who took a star turn as the Sugar Plum Fairy in its 2008 "Nutcracker." "Alice" is a homecoming for Alessi, who's since moved on to dance professionally with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Also returning home in the role of King of Hearts is South Shore native Case Bodamer of Ohio's Dayton Ballet.

And, of course, the dance- student kids will appear in "Alice," too. "We have a need for all creatures great and small in this ballet," says Fleming.

WHAT "Alice in Wonderland," a new ballet by Christopher Fleming, performed by Long Island Ballet Theatre

WHEN | WHERE 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Long Island High School for the Arts, 239 Cold Spring Rd., Syosset

INFO $32, children 17 and younger $25; liballettheatre .com, 866-811-4111

More music


WHAT Islip Arts Council's free summer concert series at Bayard Cutting Arboretum opens with Long Island's Sunnyland Jazz Band - with a repertoire of Tin Pan Alley and New Orleans sounds created by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin - and don't forget Bix Beiderbecke. Next up is Three Tall Pines June 13, The Union Jazz Coalition June 20 and Gathering Time June 27.

WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Sunday at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Great River

INFO Free; bring a lawn chair or move inside to the lower level of the Carriage House in case of rain;, 631-224-5420

WHAT The Long Island Philharmonic Chorus takes center stage in "Voices by Candlelight," with music by Bach, Brahms, Copland, Mendelssohn and other masters.

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center, 1 South Ave., Garden City

INFO $50, 631-293-2222


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