Alice in Wonderland (2013)
Productions: Spring 2013; Spring 2021
Kennet Oberly [1957-2016] was a dancer, choreographer, teacher and artistic director whose legacy includes one of American Midwest Ballet’s best-loved works, Alice in Wonderland.
Born in Pittsfield, Mass., Kennet developed an early passion for ballet and choreography. At age 14 he moved to Germany to study with John Cranko of the Stuttgart Ballet. After two years in Germany, he traveled the world, first as a professional dancer and then as a choreographer and teacher. His itinerary included Belgium, Denmark, Finland, and Estonia, where in 1993 he met and married Estonian National Ballet principal ballerina Larissa Sintsova.
His career also included a stint as artistic director of the Des Moines Ballet, where in 1990 he gained international attention for staging a “speculative reconstruction” of the full-length version of August Bournonville’s 1849 ballet Konservatoriet. Widely performed as a short work set in a dance classroom, the ballet had not been seen anywhere in its full form since 1934. For his recreation, Kennet drew on an old musical score sparsely annotated with Bournonville’s original notes, a document he had discovered during his term as a performer in Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Pantomime Theater.
Omaha-area audiences first became acquainted with Kennet’s choreography through several works he created for the former Omaha Theater Ballet company, including The Sleeping Beauty, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Hans Christian Andersen.
In 2013, American Midwest Ballet artistic director Erika Overturff commissioned Kennet to stage a production of Alice in Wonderland for the company’s third season. Combining favorite characters and scenes from Lewis Carroll’s classics Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Kennet’s inventive and intriguing interpretation became a repertory favorite that was revived for AMB’s 2020-21 season.