A Feast of Flight Alistair in Wonderland featuring Kathy Lee as the White Rabbit and Gino Bassi as Alistair. Picture: Lindsey Appolis

Kathy Lee was a corporate lawyer in London when she discovered the grace and skill of pole dancing. 

"Dance for me was always a passion ," she says, as she describes her natural progression to this mode. 

"I was so astonished and thrilled to be doing it — the acrobatic feats are remarkable and it combines so wonderfully with my passion."

When she moved to Cape Town in 2012, Lee was still juggling her job as a corporate lawyer. 

"But I really wanted to grow pole dancing in the Mother City. I wanted a change from what I was doing and it was actually a seamless transition. I was battling my two sides - my creative and the intellectual - and I must say that my corporate background helped start the business of running a studio." 

With her pole dancing studio, The Pole Project, now firmly embedded, Lee is putting on on her first creative pole dancing production this weekend at the Nassau Centre in Newlands. 

A Feast of Flight presents Alistair in Wonderland  – a first of its kind pole dancing spectacular presented to by the instructors and students of her studio, in collaboration with The Scar-Lit Box in Claremont. 

Says Lee, "It combines the skill and artistry of dancers and pupils in offering a new take on the Lewis Carroll classic where "Alice in Wonderland" becomes "Al​i​stair in Wonderland".

Lee says she's been running the studio for three years now and wanted to put on a full-scale production as most pole dance studios have annual showcases where it's up to each student to produce and present their own piece. 

"There's been nothing combined, so this is more professional — to have all the acts linked and choreographed. It's also an opportunity to change to change the public perception on pole dancing which can have negative connotations."

For the upcoming show there'll be three poles around which 21 dancers will work. Gino Bassi, in his first public performance will star as Alastair and in the narrative Lee says there'll be plenty of solo acrobatic tricks as well as group acts. 

She says she's done extensive research into the classic tale of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (generally shortened to Alice in Wonderland) — the 1865 fantasy novel written by English mathematician  Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. The well-loved story of Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures has lent itself to an enduring popularity with children as well as adults. And due to its magical, fantasy narrative and the characters it portrays, it has translated into stage productions for as long as it has been around. 

Lee will be playing the white rabbit,  and this unique production will all be performed against the background of contemporary music from pop to rock and electronic, specially mixed for the show.

Lee, who says she has immersed herself body and soul into the show says, "there's been extensive (and strenuous) rehearsing.  

"People put their bodies through a lot to deliver a professional performance.  Like any stage performance there'll be props and costumes and every piece tells a story from beginning to end going through wonderland."
“Our very own quirky, personal touch is to navigate through Wonderland through the eyes of a male protagonist. Alistair has his own story to tell, which may or may not be the same," says Lee, adding a lot of work initially went in to conceptualising the story and translating that into pole dancing acts, expressing emotions through body movement without the use of words. 

From there, the team had to decide on characters and select the right performers for each act. 

“The most challenging part is that none of us are professional performers. Most of the performers you will see at the show are everyday individuals with full-time jobs. Committing the time and energy that is needed to produce a slick and professional dance production is really quite remarkable, plus having to come up with creative solutions for props and costumes given our limited budget," says Lee.

A Feast of Flight – Alistair in Wonderland showcases on Friday, July 28 and Saturday, July 29 from 7pm to 9pm  at the Nassau Centre, Groote Schuur High School, 77 Palmyra Road, Newlands. Tickets for the event can be bought via Quicket at R290 per person.

Drinks and snacks will be on sale at the event before and after the show, and during the mid-show interlude. 

Please note: parental guidance is advised for kids under the age of 16 as there may be references to alcohol, drugs and imitable behaviour not suitable for children.
For more information contact The Pole Project on 021 461 0215, [email protected]roject.co.za or visit www.thepoleproject.co.za.