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By Kris Kerzman, Published April 20 2014

A leap down the rabbit hole: FM Ballet stages ‘Alice in Wonderland’

‘I want TWO Alices! Both of them named Camille!” the Queen of Hearts shouted.

That line never appears in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” – even if it seems a likely, if not absurd, request from the foul-tempered queen.

But proving that truth is stranger than fiction is exactly what will happen when the FM Ballet takes the Fargo Theatre stage for “Alice in Wonderland,” an adaptation of the beloved children’s story.

The role of Alice for the ballet is split between two dancers, Camille Miller and Camille Federowich, lovingly referred to as Little Camille and Big Camille. In scenes in which a small Alice is needed, 10-year-old Miller will dance; 17-year-old Federowich takes the stage when a larger Alice appears.

“I like being little Alice, because I’ve always loved that movie. It’s fun to have a bigger role, dance alone, and eat some weird stuff,” Miller says, referring to the cakes Alice eats in order to grow to normal size after shrinking.

“It starts out where there’s the bottle, and Alice has to drink what’s in the bottle in order to get through the door. And then she comes out,” Federowich explains, gesturing to Miller.

“And I’m behind the door, and I come out and I do a bunch of stuff, and I try to get out this other door and then I have to eat a cookie to get bigger,” Miller says.

They’ll pull the same swap again in the scene with the caterpillar on the mushroom, they explain.

The hookah-smoking caterpillar isn’t the only character audiences will recognize. The Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter all appear.

The Queen of Hearts will also take stage, although she won’t be screaming. The production features no dialogue, and all narrative elements will be handled through costumes, set design and dance choreographed by FM Ballet Artistic Director Matt Gasper.

Even though they’ll share the role of Alice, Miller and Federowich won’t dance together onstage. Federowich will actually dance the majority of the role, but giving a smaller Alice a shot at the limelight is part of the plan.

“I play most of the role because I’m part of the company, but we try to make the students of the school a big part of it so they can also experience what the ballet is like,” Federowich says.

“Alice in Wonderland” is the ballet company’s annual children’s ballet. For their spring performances, the company widens its cast to include young dancers.

In this case, the 70-strong cast will include 35 youth dancers. The productions often feature well-known, whimsical adaptations ready to capture the imaginations of any would-be dancers in the audience, too. In past years, the company has performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Little Prince” and “Peter and the Wolf.”

The children’s ballet also includes an element of mentorship, with company members providing hands-on guidance for the young dancers. The same goes for the Camilles. Even though they won’t be on stage together, they’ve enjoyed their time rehearsing together thus far.

“We’re pretty close, and we’re a lot alike. She’s exactly like me when I was a little dancer, so I think it’s funny that we have the same role, same name, same hair color, everything,” Federowich says.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo, and its online publication, ARTSpulse.

If You Go

WHAT: “Alice in Wonderland,” presented by FM Ballet

WHEN: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway

INFO: $20 for adults, $10 for students; available at http://fmballet.org