The timeless tale of Coppélia is brought back to life by Birmingham Royal Ballet this season, and the frivolous, romantic and witty production is an absolute delight.
Thinking about it, the story itself is rather strange as young overly confident Franz spots a young girl studying on the balcony and instantly falls for her, not realising that she is, in fact, a doll. Swanilda is in love with Franz and is angry that he is not giving her any attention, so she decides to sneak into Dr Coppélius’ house and pose as the doll to make Franz fall in love with her. The story is performed with excellent animated characterisation which brings an abundance of humour to the ballet.
Samara Downs shines as Swanilda, after seeing her brilliant characterisation in Cinderella, I struggled at first to get her superb rendition of the ugly sister out of my head, but the beauty and elegance of her movement as Swanilda grabbed my focus. Her exceptional expression creates a character full of depth and personality, which is portrayed throughout her whole body with every move. She is sweet and flirtatious yet cheeky and playful, and her movement reflects all elements of her character.
The final pas de deux between Samara and Mathias Dingman who plays Franz is ravishing and bursting with passion – it’s a real beauty to watch. They make a sensational pair and the delicacy of their movement is breathtaking. Mathias exudes the charming nature of Franz and his movement is impressive as every leap and pirouette appear effortless. Although not a huge dancing role, the role of Dr Coppélius is performed by Jonathan Payn who uses exaggerated movement to create phenomenal humour.
Coppélia is really elevated by the company that create all the joyus dance around the action happening between Franz and Swanilda. As the dancers fill the village square with colour, the character style of dance brings vibrancy to the piece. Similarly, the men as Calls to Arms provide impeccable movement that boasts both strength and power.
Despite being a ballet that has been in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s repetoire for a while now, it feels fresh and contemporary because of the dancer’s ability to really lift the piece with their character and style. The set and staging are magnificent, every inch of the stage is laced with intricacy as the designers have created a splendid ambience with their stunning set. Whether it’s the traditional wooden houses that look as if they’ve just stepped out of a fairytale or the decadent dressings of the ball scene, one thing Birmingham Royal Ballet never do is hold back when it comes to creating lavish visuals.
This is also mirrored in the beautiful costumes, the variety of costume in this show is vast and ranges from Swanilda’s stunning tutus, the traditional village dancers dresses and the majestic hats worn by the men in the masque ball.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Coppélia truly is a sensation that will continue to triumph through the dancer’s excellent charismatic energy and breathtaking movement, as it showcases the company’s astounding versatility.
Coppélia is on at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 17th of June before heading to the Bristol Hippodrome from the 28th of June to the 1st of July – information and tickets can be found here.