Sunday, 20 July 2014

ENB Coppelia Masterclass

Coppelia Masterclass, English National Ballet, Markova House - reviewed on 10th July
At an English National Ballet masterclass last week, Ronald Hynd guided Shiori Kase and Yonah Acosta (both since promoted to first soloist and principal respectively) in the lead roles of the company’s latest production, Coppelia.
Laurretta Summerscales as Swanilda (publicity image)
Photo: Eric Richmond
Set to a score by Léo Delibes, the ballet tells the story of the lifelike Coppelia doll created by Dr Coppelius. To avenge her boyfriend Franz’s declaration of love to the doll, Swanilda dresses up in Coppelia’s clothes and fools both him and the inventor into believing the doll has come to life. There’s a happy ending when all is revealed and Swanilda and Franz are married.
Hynd gave little feedback to Kase and Acosta as they demonstrated some of the ballet's pas de deux, though he did help with their positioning in a tricky fish dive where the female dancer is held behind her partner’s back.
"Swanilda is mainly Miss Sunshine, but she's slightly bipolar. She very quickly changes from being happy to very downcast. Franz has a heart of gold... but he spreads it around! They're two very interesting characters" described Hynd.
"The choreography is mainly Petipa's. It was already very difficult but I've added in a few more things to make it even more difficult! The dancers for the Dawn and Prayer solos of Act III have also become Swanilda's friends in my production, so that the ballet makes more cohesive sense.
"Dr Coppelius is traditionally shown to be an inventor with his use of a spell book. However, it struck me that the ballet was created in a time when there were lots of experiments with magnetism and electricity taking place. I wanted to use a large machine onstage to represent this. Dr Coppelius attaches the machine to Swanilda and Franz and if it were real they'd be getting electric shocks!
Shiori Kase as Swanilda and Michael Coleman as
Dr Coppelius (in performance). Photo: David Jensen
"The ballet is great because it's about real people and not the aristocracy or royalty. The audience can relate to the characters – warts and all. The story is very obvious so you don't need to read a synopsis. My intention is to express thoughts and words through movement. I hope people will recognise the emotions being conveyed."
Years ago, Hynd actually coached company artistic director Tamara Rojo in her first Sleeping Beauty. "Now she's hiring me to coach her company dancers. She's doing an amazing job as artistic director; I saw Le Corsaire and it was excellent. Things have really come full circle."
Perhaps Kase or Acosta will direct a major ballet company one day. In the meantime, there is plenty to look forward to as they make their debuts in Coppelia at the London Coliseum next week.

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