Saturday, 10 December 2016

Manchester City Ballet's Coppelia

Standard YouTube Licence

Manchester City Ballet, Coppelia, The Dancehouse, 9 Dec 2016, 19:30, 10 Dec 2016

In Of Bikes and Buses 25 Oct 2016, I mentioned a short debate on Radio 4 between the newspaper critic, Luke Jennings, and David Nixon of Northern Ballet on "making ballet relevant to today." If relevance is your pigeon, you can't go far wrong with Coppelia. You don't need to change the story, commission a new score or give your dancers sticks to carry in their mouths. Coppelia has everything. Artificial intelligence. Societal dysfunction with juvenile delinquents roughing up a pensioner on his way to the pub and ladettes breaking into his workshop and trashing his handiwork. The ballet even anticipated the Turing test.

I like the ballet for many reasons none of which have anything to do with the music or choreography. It is about ordinary human beings in a rural village in deepest Mitteleuropa. Dr Coppelius is an inventor. Indeed, he reminds me of so many of my clients. After annoying his fiancee to such an extent that she nearly breaks off the engagement Franz plans a clandestine visit to the girl on Coppelius's balcony at the dead of night by ladder. Much like the defendant in R v Collins.

Manchester City Ballet, Northern Ballet School's performance company, has been dancing Coppelia at the Dancehouse Theatre since 8 Dec 2016. I had booked tickets for last night but I was delayed by congestion in Manchester city centre and missed the whole of the first act.  As I could not fairly review a ballet after seeing just two-thirds of the show I returned this afternoon to see the whole performance. It was very, very good.

Seeing the show one and a half times enabled me to see the four lead dancers in different roles.  Marin Shimizu danced Swanhilda last night and Dawn this afternoon.  Nika Lipolt was Dawn yesterday and Swanhilda this afternoon. Miguel Angelo danced Franz yesterday and Ted Beattie this afternoon.  Those four danced their roles differently but equally well.   Beattie and Lipolt are taller than Angelo and Shimizu and commanded the stage particularly well but Shimizu has dazzling technique particularly in the poses of her solo in the final pas de deux and she is an accomplished actor.  Everyone in the cast danced well but I must give a special commendation to Callum Green who was a great Coppelius.

The show was produced by the School's principal, Patricia McDonald, who was assisted by choreographers, Anton Alexandrov and Lisa Rowland and Ballet Master, Matthew Paluch. Polly Ward and the school wardrobe department produced the costumes. I don't know who designed the scenery but he or she did a good job.

If I can get up in time to catch the 04:48 from Huddersfield to Manchester airport I should see a very different Coppelius  by Ted Brandsen in Amsterdam.  I will tweet about that during the day and will review it properly when I get back to Britain.

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