Arts / Ballet aims to bring fantasy to life

Brett Chynoweth and Benedicte Bemet in “Coppélia”. Photo by Daniel Boud

BRINGING “fantasy to life” is The Australian Ballet’s aim as it launches into a completely new children’s production of “Coppélia”, touring through summer as part of its Storytime Ballet project, which played to 34,000 kids last year.

Set to Léo Delibes’ radiant score, “Coppélia” is an age-old seasonal favourite and likely to be a treat for the whole family.

The plot, tinged with darkness but here treated in a light-hearted way surrounds young lovers Swanilda and Franz who quarrel when Franz casts his eye on the gorgeous daughter of the strange alchemist and sorcerer, Dr Coppelius. But the “daughter” is in reality a doll, Coppelia, named after him, and the doctor has evil designs on Franz’s soul, which are eventually thwarted by the clever Swanhilda.

Needless to say, there’s a happy ending, but not before the audience gets to see seen some “fancy footwork, sorcery and masquerade, romance and high jinks,” the Australian Ballet promises.

Along the way, the odd Dr Coppelius’ dolls come to life – every child’s fantasy, they say.

Storytime Ballet performances are never just straight ballet and this production, like all those in its four-year history, has been made just for children aged three years and up, who are encouraged to come dressed in ballet-inspired outfits

“Coppélia”… “Fancy footwork, sorcery and masquerade, romance and high jinks,” the Australian Ballet promises. Photo by Daniel Boud.

Performances run for just under an hour and feature a narrator to guide the audience through the story, with immersive opportunities so that the kids can dance along with the artful Swanilda as she rescues Franz from the magician.

A treat for ballet-lovers of all ages will be the extraordinary designs, recreations of the original sets, with the addition of 15 Kristian Fredrikson-designed costumes from the Australian Ballet’s mainstage production.

“It’s going to be such cheerful fun for the whole family,” the ballet’s artistic director, David McAllister, says.

“Coppélia”, Canberra Theatre, January 17-19. Book at 6275 2700.

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