Dance Review: PNB's 'Coppélia' charms with magical sets, costumes and dancing
Pacific Northwest Ballet's 'Coppélia,' with magical new sets and costumes by Roberta Guidi di Bagno and stellar dancing, does justice to the 1974 version choreographed by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova for New York City Ballet.
Seattle Times arts writer
'Coppélia'7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and June 10-12, 2 p.m. Saturday and June 12, 1 p.m. June 13, Pacific Northwest Ballet, McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., Seattle; $25-$160 (206-441-2424 or www.pnb.org).
Dance Review |
If sets and costumes could dance by themselves, Roberta Guidi di Bagno's designs for Pacific Northwest Ballet's new production of "Coppélia" would surely do so. The sets — a whimsical village of porcelain-like houses, a cobwebby lair, a village square hung with exuberantly painted bells — shimmer with soft colors; the costumes, in lilacs and corals and whispery greens, sparkle as if sprinkled with fairy dust. Under Randall G. Chiarelli's artful lighting, this magical world shines in daylight and glows at twilight. You believe that here, just perhaps, a doll could indeed come to life.
Lovely as they are, sets and costumes do not in themselves a ballet make — and luckily, "Coppélia" charms on the dance front as well. Created in the 19th century, the ballet is a joyful comedy about coquettish Swanilda, her impetuous suitor Franz, and the eccentric toy-maker Dr. Coppelius, presented here in a 1974 version choreographed by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova for New York City Ballet. (PNB previously performed, some years ago, a version by Kent Stowell.)
Kaori Nakamura, who's danced like a demon this season, was delicate perfection as Swanilda, with a face as fleet as her feet. When Swanilda, finding the key to Coppelius' house, decides to enter, you see the idea occur to her like a dainty chime being struck. (Sadly, Nakamura was injured midperformance — though she covered it beautifully — and will not dance again for the rest of the run.) Jonathan Porretta, as Franz, tossed off his soaring jumps with boyish flair. The two have a gentle pas de deux in Act III, complete with a lovely lift in which she appeared to be floating in the air behind him, followed by trading catch-me-if-you-can solos that left the dancers and the audience breathless. PNB artistic director Peter Boal, making his character-role debut as Dr. Coppelius, had a funny, bobbly walk and a sweet poignancy as the toy-maker believed, fondly smiling, that his doll Coppélia had come to life (it's really Swanilda in disguise).
Though there was some bumpiness in the Act I corps (a handheld line of ballerinas in grand jeté didn't have the precision and impact that it should have), the ballet's charms never flagged. (Nor did the PNB orchestra, making spirited work of Léo Delibes' score under Nathan Fifield's baton.) And the magic deepened in the final act as 24 young PNB students took the stage, beaming as they elegantly bourréed. Just as a doll became a girl (or seemed to) — girls become dancers, before our eyes.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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