Living doll dances to delight

Coppelia

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia

Wolverhampton Grand

**** 

BALLET is always something of a treat and first impressions of the opening of Coppelia did not disappoint. The dancers stand immobile for a few seconds before bursting into life.

With bright, colourful costumes and a young and chirpy troupe, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia (Krasnoyarsk State Ballet which was founded in 1978), brings this most popular of all comic ballets to Wolverhampton Grand as part of a UK tour.  

The romantic attachment between Franz (Kirill Bulychev) and mischievous Swanilde (Elena Pogorelaya) quickly becomes apparent when she playfully showers him with a watering can!

However, she is jealous and unsettled when Franz becomes enchanted by a beautiful girl who is sitting reading at a nearby window; little do they know that she is merely a doll (played by Yana Tugeva) who has been animated by her maker Dr. Coppelius'.

Nevertheless, while dancing with townspeople - including the Burgomeister (danced by Kirikk Bogdanov) and other local characters and  friends, Swanhilde is able to forget her anxieties.

When the inventor Dr. Coppelius (ably portrayed by Alexander Kuimov) leaves his home to go drinking at a tavern and drops his door key, Swanhilde picks it up and creeps into his workshop with her friends while Franz climbs in through a window. The young people discover several of his automatons and switch them on.

STRENGTH AND VERSATILITY

Swanhilde and the girls are astonished to realize that Coppelia is not real but when Dr. Coppelius returns, she hides by taking the doll's place. You have to admire Elena Pogorelaya's stamina as the role of Swanhilde requires strength and versatility - it has to incorporate a lot of dancing through from stiff doll-like movements to graceful pas de deux

Nevertheless, the inventor's deepest desire - to bring Coppelia to life using Franz' life force – comes to nothing when the couple escape together.

In the final act, Swanhilde and the energetic Franz's wedding is celebrated by the whole village which gives the company an opportunity to showcase their skills through a series of symbolic dances (divertissements) signifying Prayer, Dance etc. leading up to the final pas de deux.

Sergei Bobrov is the artistic director and Alexander Yudasin conducts this ballet which includes lots of mime while Delibes' music introduces folk dances like mazurka and czardas.  The bright costumes, sparkling tutus and Dr. Coppelius' shimmering, billowing cloak all add to the entertainment value.  

Coppelia may not have the wow factor of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker, but it is charming and well-told fantasy in which everyone should find something to enjoy.  

For the Wolverhampton leg of their tour of the UK, the Russian State Ballet of Siberia is perform three different ballets opening with an afternoon performance of The Nutcracker on Sunday, 17 Feb, Coppelia on 18 Feb and finally Swan Lake on 19 Feb, 2013.

Laura Ginesi

And a second movement . . .

***

THE Russian ballet dancers from Siberia brought a warm glow to the Grand with their performance of this classic story of love and confusion over a beautiful life-size mechanical doll.

It featured some outstanding dancing to the choreography of Alexander Gorsky and Gennady Malkhasiants, with Delibes' beautiful score played by the company's orchestra, conducted by Alexander Yudasin.

The light-hearted ballet is set in a quaint 19th century village, Galicia, where the eccentric toymaker Dr Coppelius has produced a doll so realistic he treats it as his daughter.

Yana Tugaeva played the magical Coppelia, and thrilled the audience with her clever dancing, while Kirill Bulychev impressed as villager Franz who upsets his girlfriend, Swanilda (the delightful Elena Pogorelaya) by making eyes at the doll.

And that is where the main fault of the production came to light. In the fairly basic scenery, Dr Coppelius's home was perched on one side of the stage in such a position that a section of the audience couldn't see Coppelia in her window seat, so if they didn't know the story they wouldn't understand what the men in the cast were ogling.

Coppelia was performed on Monday night, The Nutcracker having been staged on Sunday

Paul Marston

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