Dance review: Birmingham Royal Ballet - Coppélia

Copp�lia may be an old-school classic but what's not to like about that? Picture: Gibson Kochanek Studio

Copp�lia may be an old-school classic but what's not to like about that? Picture: Gibson Kochanek Studio

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STEPPING back on to the street after watching Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Coppélia, it’s almost surprising to see cars whizzing by.

Birmingham Royal Ballet: Coppélia

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

****

For the previous two hours, we could easily have been living in the late 19th century, when the ballet was first performed. Yes, advances in set design, costume and make-up give the work a higher production value than could have been dreamt of in 1870, but in every other way this is a traditional, classical ballet to its core.

It’s something Birmingham Royal Ballet does extremely well. More than most narrative ballets, Coppélia relies heavily on clear storytelling, comic timing and strong characterisation – all of which this company has in ample supply.

Eccentric doll-maker Dr Coppélius is a peach of a role for an older dancer, with his delusional hope of bringing one of his creations to life. Franz, a young man with a wandering eye, offers male dancers a chance to display wit, charm and powerful technique, while his long-suffering girlfriend, Swanilda, not only presents a technical challenge to any ballerina taking her on, but a feisty, playful heroine to get their teeth into.

Despite creative input by three different choreographers over the years – Marius Petipa, Enrico Cecchetti and, latterly, Sir Peter Wright – Coppélia is a seamless, old-school classic that still has much to offer.

With big ensemble scenes blending upbeat folk dance with exquisite pointe work, opulent sets, gorgeous costumes and lighter than air delivery, it’s a clear case of what’s not to like?

Seen on 04.02.15

• Run ends today

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