When longtime Royal Winnipeg Ballet principal dancer Tara Birtwhistle struts onto the Royal Theatre stage this week, it will likely be the last time Victoria audiences will see her dance. After a 20-year career with the renowned Canadian ballet company, her performance as the Queen of Hearts in RWB’s Wonderland will be the last time she dances on tour. She’ll dance her final ballet with the company, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe, in Winnipeg on May 8, before becoming the ballet master.
Not that Birtwhistle really considers her Queen of Hearts role to be very dance-centric.
“I do a lot of walking around,” she says. “It was not necessarily the fact I was retiring, it was how the character came about because of the costume and the look and the fact that I’m carrying a megaphone and barking orders.”
Birtwhistle describes the Queen of Hearts as a “ridiculous diva character,” and says Wonderland — which is an updated and re-imagined take on Alice in Wonderland, with a completely digital set and choreography by Shawn Hounsell — is a journey for the audience.
“It’s not your grandma’s Wonderland.”
Catch Wonderland at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday at the Royal Theatre (805 Broughton). Tickets are $34.25-$99.25 at rmts.bc.ca.