Ballerina Amber Scott Has an Adventure in Wonderland

Amber Scott falls down the rabbit hole this month in The Australian Ballet’s production of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland."

The Australian Ballet’s Principal Artist, Amber Scott, has danced all around the world but it’s Melbourne she happily calls home. Listening to her talk of the joys of working and studying around the Arts Centre Melbourne precinct and of experiences such as lunch in one of the city’s laneways and of swimming in Port Phillip Bay, it’s clear this is unlikely to change.

“Melbourne is the best place to be,” she said.

“It’s an easy, walkable and friendly city even on rainy days. And there’s so much to do in the city.”
 Arts Centre Melbourne at night The Arts Centre Melbourne remains one of her favourite places.

“I fell in love with the Arts Centre Melbourne from a young age and still love seeing the lights of Melbourne sparkle on the Yarra River at night,” Scott said.

“The State Theatre is a fantastic place to perform due to its size. Its large depth and width offers great freedom with choreography. Backstage it also has great facilities.”

Scott’s love affair with the theatre continues this month as she takes to the stage in The Australian Ballet’s production of Christopher Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” She is one of eight ‘Alice’s’ to perform in the ballet renowned for its choreography, a wildly imaginative set and inventive costumes.

The ballet was created by Wheeldon for The Royal Ballet in 2011. He has re-imagined the beloved storybook classic using ballet’s traditional structures, interspersed with dramatic twists and comedic turns for a modern edge.

The magical world of Wonderland and its absurd and fantastical inhabitants are brought to life through puppetry, optical illusion, immersive digital projections, countless wigs, masks and intricately detailed and vibrant costumes. Amber Scott i  Alice’s journey is quite a rollercoaster ride. She shrinks, grows, nearly drowns, is threatened with capital punishment and rescues a baby from the cooking pot.

Highlights of the design include an eerily disembodied grinning Cheshire Cat puppet manipulated by six dancers and a sensuous indigo caterpillar with eight pairs of bejewelled pointe shoe-clad feet.

“It is a wonderful role, Alice is a great character,” Scott said.

As a result of the difficult classical choreography, Alice’s interactions with the set and the puppetry and the time on stage—Alice is on stage for the full ballet—it’s also a very demanding role. Amber Scott, François-Eloi Lavignac and Valerie Tereshchenko in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
But demanding roles are nothing new to Scott, who joined The Australian Ballet School when she was 11.After graduating as dux, she joined The Australian Ballet in 2001. In 2003 she spent four months on a dancer exchange at the Royal Danish Ballet. Scott was promoted to principal artist with the Australian Ballet in 2011 after performing the Second Movement from Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “Concerto." Other career highlights include working with Wayne McGregor on “Dyad 1929” and “Chroma;" dancing with Robert Tewsley during the 2008 “Manon” season, Damian Smith in Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” pas de deux in 2012 and David Hallberg in Alexei Ratmansky’s “Cinderella” in 2013.

Her guest appearances have included Odette/Odile in Derek Deane’s “Swan Lake” with the Shanghai Ballet, the National Ballet of China International Gala, Odette/Odile in Russell Kerr’s “Swan Lake” with Royal New Zealand Ballet 2013, Fall for Dance Festival, New York City—Glen Tetley’s “Gemini” 2011—and The Stuttgart Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Gala—“Molto Vivace” pas de deux.

“It’s been wonderful to travel the world performing both with The Australian Ballet and other companies,” she said.

But listening to Scott there’s no doubt bringing Alice to life for Melbourne audiences is an equally rewarding experience.