English National Ballet My First Ballet: Coppélia

Following the My First Ballet series, English National Ballet and English National Ballet School are presenting Coppélia from April to the delight of young children everywhere. From 5 April–25 May 2014 the Peacock Theatre in London and a national tour will see Coppélia visit Shrewsbury, Manchester, Tunbridge Wells, Woking, Aylesbury and Bromley.

My First Coppélia is the third in the My First Ballet series, the comic tale of an eccentric toymaker and his mechanical doll, based on Ronald Hynd’s original production. The dancers will wear the beautiful costumes from the professional company’s full production, giving audiences the look, feel and quality of a classic ballet, but understandable for all. The adapted story and choreography will make the ballet more approachable and fun for younger audiences.

Last year’s creative team of Gavin Sutherland and ENB’s Associate Artist George Williamson, a graduate of ENBS, will be collaborating again to bring young audiences their first taste of ballet, with captivating music and beautiful choreography performed by the students. George’s first major commission was Firebird for English National Ballet. He returns to the My First Ballet series after choreographing last year’s My First Cinderella.

Children aged 3 and over can get their first taste of classical ballet with this magical production. The simplified version builds on the great success of My First Sleeping Beauty and My First Cinderella, developing the audience of tomorrow and establishing long term relationships with the arts.

English National Ballet was awarded a £114,520 grant from the Leverhulme Trust in 2013. The grant was awarded to support two years of the series and English National Ballet are delighted that the funding will also support My First Ballet: Coppélia, helping to develop the dancers of the future and enable students with outstanding potential to gain vital skills by working with a professional company.

Spotlight On: Coppélia

ENB's 2008 Production of CoppeliaAs a choreographic work which does not end in death for the main protagonists, Coppélia is a light-hearted comedic ballet, with a narrative which delights audience with its humour, magic and a happy ending.

Our heroine Swanilda is a feisty villager who isn’t very happy when she spots her beau, Franz, making eyes at a mysterious female figure high in a window of Dr Coppelius’ workshop.

The reserved beauty later is discovered to be the mechanical doll Coppélia by Swanilda and her girlfriends, when they find themselves inside the workshop. Having found the answers to their questions, they amuse themselves at Franz’s expense, delighted that he should be declaring his love for a mere doll.

Meanwhile, Franz has also found his way into Dr Coppelius’ abode, searching for Coppélia. The intruding girls are discovered by Dr Coppelius and flee, bar Swanilda who quickly hides. Dr Coppelius, after a short outburst at discovering Franz too, rethinks his strategy and invites Franz to drink [poison] with him, tipping his away and allowing Franz to submit to unconsciousness. Dr Coppelius is seemingly alone to care for his prized doll Coppélia, who we discover is Swanilda, taking on her role in the doll’s clothes.

Chaos ensues, with Dr Coppelius believing he has brought his beloved creation to life. Following two engaging solos from Swanilda/Coppélia, Franz is finally woken, and the lovers escape. Depending on the interpretation of the production by different ballet companies, the extent of remorse felt for Dr Coppelius varies! Act 3 sees a town celebration take place, with solos by Dawn, Prayer, Morning Hours, Working Hours and the introduction of the new bell, a cause for a party. In some versions of the ballet, Dr Coppelius is reunited with the town who have rejected his odd and introverted ways; a happy ending for all.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Coppelia’s Bad Boy

Sergei PoluninSergei Polunin, the notorious “bad boy” of the ballet world, is set to appear in The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet’s production of Roland Petit’s Coppelia at the London Coliseum in July this year for just six performances.

Petit’s version of the work, which debuted in 1975, is just one interpretation of one of the most well-known ballets with the story including magic, humour, love and even a happy ending!

Staged by Luigi Bonino and set to music by Leo Delibes, this particular production contains all the loved classics of the classical ballet, including the Mazurka, the Waltz of the Hours and the energetic Czardas dances.

The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet is lead by internationally renowned dancer Igor Zelensky and will bring together some of the century’s finest principal dancers such as the 23 year old Ukranian star Polunin and up-and-coming ballerina Erika Mikirticheva, who will be dancing Franz and Swanilda respectively amongst two other casts. As an incredible yet completely notorious talent, Polunin is set to wow hungry audiences as he helps tell the story of red-blooded Franz’s comic adventures in his falling in love with the beautiful (doll) Coppelia.

The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet was born in 1939 as a result of the joining of the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre and the Moscow Art Ballet, founded by the former Bolshoi ballet star Victorian Kriger. The established company quickly became one Russia’s leading ballet companies and went on to tour extensively across Europe and the USA. Today, the company has since staged numerous productions such as Cinderella, Don Quixote, Giselle, La Sylphide, Mayerling, Napoli, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and even The Little Mermaid. This demonstrates that this first-class company still provides much for the ballet world, and with fantastic casts for its productions, will continue to do so well into the future.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s New Season

Birmingham Royal Ballet

Birmingham Royal Ballet has been busy polishing its tiaras and digging out repertoire tutus in preparation for the 2012/13 season, seeing in both brand new works inspired by Olympic sporting endeavours to classics such as Giselle and Coppélia. The senior management team, such as Director David Bintley CBE, has been very excited about the repertory that will emerge throughout the season, setting every pointe shoe fan alight with anticipation too.

The season began on 19 September with the company staging six performances in four days of the enduring and timeless story of Swan Lake at The Lowry in Manchester. This is ahead of moving the company home to the Birmingham Hippodrome on 2 October ready for the winter. Swan Lake is a sure ballet favourite of dance fans and non-dance fans alike, and a classic that is rarely missed from a classical ballet company’s repertoire. BRB (originally Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet) first performed Swan Lake in 1981 almost 100 years after it premiered in Moscow. A new insight will be brought to the 2012/13 Company with at least two new casts with many new artists dancing the leading roles.

Bintley has maintained that keeping audiences surprised is a constant test for the company, in addition to drawing audiences in to see the show in the first place. With such a variety of work planned for the coming season, there is no doubt the audience’s appetites will be satisfied, with the seasons being planned many years in advance. A modern production of Aladdin will grace the stage through the company as well as Faster, the production inspired by the theme of the Olympics and the physiological aspects of sport and performance. Bintley has collaborated with Australian composer Matthew Hindson to produce a ballet that celebrates speed and power which is a fitting tribute to the Olympians that showcased their incredible athleticism in London in July and August.

Faster is one of three productions for the Autumn Celebration, which is being staged at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth; Sadler’s Wells, London; and Wales Millennium Centre in October. It also features The Dream and The Grand Tour.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.