If it's not magical, Kate Hadfield isn't interested.
As artistic director of Movement Continuum, a Lexington contemporary dance company in its fourth season, Hadfield is focused on creating a spectacle of imagination and fantasy that she hopes will shake up the way people think about contemporary dance in the region.
"The Lexington arts community needs more magic," Hadfield says. "We're all so deeply grounded in the human condition through our art here, but I believe that through shows grounded in magic, we are sometimes urged to connect to an even more human place within ourselves."
Magic plays a big role in the troupe's latest production, Down the Rabbit Hole, which premieres Friday through Sunday at the Downtown Arts Center. Steeped in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the imaginations of choreographers Hadfield, Cara Terry and Ashley Roberts, the multimedia production features contemporary dance by a company of 13 dancers as well as original monologues penned by 15 local writers and atmospheric video, lighting, and costume designs.
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While the show is based on Alice in Wonderland, Hadfield has taken creative liberties with the tale, grounding it with, if not exactly a plot, a solid concept.
"It's all taking place in Alice's afterlife instead of her dream life," Hadfield says. She says the idea is that after a person dies, "you could tour all your different options for your afterlife and then pick which one you wanted to go through."
In this afterlife, Alice repeatedly returns to the room of doors. Three doors lead to different worlds, and afterlife options, that audiences will recognize from Alice in Wonderland.
"The Garden of Live Flowers is representative of heaven, and Queen of Hearts Croquet Court is representative of hell, and the White Queen's Chess Board is representative of purgatory," Hadfield says.
In order to make the show as visceral as possible, Hadfield made a conscious effort to include as many different art forms as possible, including the usual visual aspects of lighting and costuming while adding in new elements, such as original monologues written by local writers which are pre-recorded and spoken when each character or location is presented.
"I really wanted to start bringing in as many different kinds of art forms as possible," Hadfield says. "I think that sometimes we as artists get really stuck on the one thing that we do and we forget how much the other art forms can aid our storytelling ability."
Featured writers include Lexington writers such as Bianca Spriggs, Eric Sutherland, Dona Ison, Elizabeth Beck and others.
Hadfield says that projecting the voice of the performer is a unique aspect of the show that she hopes will further capture the audience's imagination.
"I am trying to give everything more of a dimension and more of a depth so people can feel like they're being transported to a different world and not just sitting and watching a dance performance but that this becomes its own little micro-universe in the theater," says Hadfield, who has been thinking about this show for the past eight years.
"I was about 20 years old and I was sitting in a Russian literature course at UK," Hadfield says of the idea for the show. "Now, it's eight years later and it's actually coming to fruition."
Hadfield says she thinks productions with magical, otherworldly themes can make a meaningful impact on audiences.
"Magic allows us to see our feelings amplified because they are harbored by White Rabbits and Mad Hatters, instead of men and women," Hadfield says. "When they are amplified, they are also intensified, they are made bigger than life."