Donald Thom, second soloist, is revisiting the role of The Mad Hatter in Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ for The National Ballet of Canada. This is a role he loves and first learned under Steven McRae while he was with The Royal Ballet.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a theatrical and colourful contemporary ballet, filled with wonderful characters, dramatic sets and bold costumes.
The Mad Hatter is a fun role that combines ballet and tap and allows Donald to put on his tap shoes. We asked Donald about preparing to become The Mad Hatter – you can read the full interview in the next edition of The Wonderful World of Dance Magazine.
Donald, how have you prepared for performing The Mad Hatter with The National Ballet of Canada?
I have been preparing this role for years now. What has been nice about rehearsing this role with The National Ballet of Canada is that they have provided us with a tap coach. At the moment, we have about 2 or 3 sessions weekly working on the actual tap technique required for the role.
What’s your tap background?
I grew up training at a competitive dance studio in my hometown Ottawa, Canada, learning all styles of dance. Tap is really big in the ‘competitive scene’ so from the age of seven I was performing tap routines and solos that were choreographed by top coaches from all over North America.
I eventually gave it up when I decided to train at The Royal Ballet School and pursue the balletic path. Luckily, in my first season as a company member in London, they revived Alice and I got to strap those tap shoes on again and again…and again!
What do you love about The Mad Hatter role?
I love being able to be a part of the music. Of course, we always use and follow the music as ballet dancers, but very rarely do we get to be a part of it. It’s so different than growing up performing tap to pre-recorded music as to now performing with the orchestra. I like the challenge of keeping up with the different tempos and being able to play with the rhythms.