Image taken from Explore Dance, photo by Paul Kolnick; dancers: Yvonne Borree and Robert La Fosse.
New York City Ballet doesn’t often put on full-length story ballets, but when they do, they do very well with them. Coppelia was very entertaining. The leads were danced charmingly by Joaquin De Luz, probably the most actorly of the male dancers, and the doll-faced Megan Fairchild.
(photos of De Luz and Fairchild by Paul Kolnick, from NYCBallet website)
This is kind of a sad comedy that takes place in 19th Century Galicia. It’s the story of toymaker Dr. Coppelius (played by La Fosse, also in top pic) who creates a life-sized doll whom he rather sadly comes to love as his own daughter. Frantz (De Luz) is a country bumpkin in love with Swanilda (Fairchild) but also can’t help flirting madly with the doll (yeah, he is not too bright).
One evening Frantz and his friends rough up Coppelius and he loses his house keys, which Swanilda and her girlfriends find and use to explore his toy studio. When Coppelius returns home and finds his house invaded, he rather amusingly chases the ladies around, batting at them frantically, shooing them out. Swanilda hides in a closet that happens to house the doll. In the meantime, Frantz climbs in through the window, apparently desiring the doll. When Coppelius finds him, he serves him a drugged drink. Frantz falls asleep and Coppelius opens the curtain to find Swanilda, whom he mistakes for his daughter. He decides to try to steal Frantz’s energy in order to enliven his Coppelia. Swanilda goes along with this, pretending to be the doll come to life. She eventually dances her way out of the house, waking Frantz and taking him with her. In the final scene, all is happy, there is a village celebration, and Swanilda and Frantz are married.
It’s nothing profound but a cute story. You do feel a little sad for Coppelius in the end. Joaquin is absolutely hilarious as he flirts with the doll, blowing her kisses and clenching at his chest when he thinks she returns his gaze. And of course his bravura solos were stunning. Megan was good throughout, and very funny when angry at Frantz for obsessing over that doll, but she really came to life as doll Coppelia. She did those sharp, staccato, toy-like movements superbly. And she has that cherubic face. I honestly can’t imagine that role done any better.
It shows through tomorrow (Sunday), and then next week begins the company’s modern / contemporary repertoire.
By the way, New York City Ballet has $25 orchestra seats available this season, which is an excellent price. Go here for deets.