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A Twist On Wonderland

The Work Dance Company creates a world of hip-hop wonder at the Hult Center
The Work Dance Company performs “Gagaland” from Wonderland.
The Work Dance Company performs “Gagaland” from Wonderland.

Forget rabbits with pocket watches. Forget tea parties. Forget Alice in Wonderland. Work Dance Company director and choreographer Nathan Boozer wants to take you down another rabbit hole into his Wonderland, an upcoming Feb. 15 show at the Hult Center that takes a look through the hip-hop looking glass at lands filled with music, butterflies, candy, zombies and Lady Gaga.

“It’s not what you would think when you think of wonderland,” says Boozer, who was busy painting a prop fence for the show when EW caught up with him. “It’s about imagination. Letting yourself go to those places.”

Some of those places are going to be whimsical and lovely, like the show-opener where Work Dance’s 21 hip-hop and jazz funk dancers will be performing in front of a giant screen playing a video of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. And some of those places are going to be a little darker (but not too dark, it’s a family-friendly show), like the Zombieland piece with dancers-turned-zombies complete with fake blood and clouds of dry ice set to Rob Zombie’s “Dragula.” Boozer, who used a similar piece at 2012’s Dance for a Reason, says it’s a real “audience pleaser.” Then there’s Gagaland, where the pop star’s hits “Bad Romance,” “Telephone” and “Born this Way” will set the tone as “Gaga-esque” dancers break it down in front of a backdrop of abstract art and glitter.

For the past 10 months, Boozer has been meticulously crafting everything from props and choreography to videos and music (working with his “right-hand man,” producer Ryan King) because he doesn’t want Wonderland to be a dance recital; he wants it to be a show. The audience is “going to feel like they went through a ton of different emotions,” he says. Between the 11 choreographed Work Dance pieces, special guests from the local dance community will perform, including Kings Krew, Dance Northwest, Mission to Mars and the UO Jam Squad. For the first time, Boozer will also be taking the production to Portland, with two March performances of Wonderland at The Headwaters Theater. “I wanted to step outside the box and push my limits,” Boozer says. “My dancers work really hard for what we do and I wanted more people to see it.”

Wonderland shows for one-night only in Eugene at 7:30 pm Friday, Feb. 15, at the Hult Center; $17.