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Dancers in Wonderland

Girls at Burroughs High School perform a ‘magical’ interpretation of the Lewis Carroll work featuring Alice and a mythical world.

January 12, 2008|By Rachel Kane

Dress rehearsal had just started to roll when John Burroughs High School’s Dance Department Director Marilyn Suleiman started hopping.

“OK, where is she?” Suleiman said, darting through the backstage area looking for the dance team’s vice president.

The all-girl cast of the dance department’s winter show was warming up to go through the final rehearsal before Thursday night’s performance.

This year’s show, a dance interpretation of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” features more than 40 students in various scenes from the Lewis Carroll classic about a girl who goes into a mythical world of white rabbits in waistcoats.


On Wednesday night, a frayed and busy Suleiman rushed past auditorium seats, keeping track of time like the eager bunny himself.

It was the last time they had to get it all right. Props, costumes, lighting, stage direction and sound — everything was done by the students. Even the majority of the show’s choreography was dreamed up by the girls.

“A lot of people don’t really get to see all we do,” said Marian Mikhail, 17. “We work really hard.”

For most of the girls, including the five Alices, the work is a labor of love.

That goes for the coaches, too, Suleiman said.

“This has definitely been a journey,” she said.

They were all required to research their characters and the story of “Alice in Wonderland” before the show began. At the final rehearsal, they were close to coming out the other end of the rabbit hole.

Most of the dancers looked cool and collected despite having to keep track of their steps, music, entrances, exits and costume changes among the neon mushrooms under bright lights during showtime.

Amanda Richardson, 16, had more to worry about than most. She played the Mad Hatter, a flower and a card soldier, which meant she had to make some quick costume changes backstage to keep up with the show.

It also came down to her to get the tea party ready for one of the story’s major scenes.

“Ah, that flamingo is not supposed to be on this table,” Amanda said, snatching a large, stuffed pink flamingo from a brightly colored tabletop with a lopsided cake on it.

All proceeds generated from Wonderland will benefit the dance department.

 RACHEL KANE covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3205 or by e-mail at

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