A family-friendly introduction to ballet
Performed by Varna International Ballet
Choreography by Alexander Gorsky and Gergana Karaivanoya
Accompanied by a live orchestra Varna Orchestra
Artistic Director Daniela Dimova
Music Director Stefan Boyadzhiev
Conductor Peter Tuleshkov
The Varna International Ballet have jeté’d their way around the UK on their first-ever tour and this week its De Montfort Hall’s turn to showcase their productions of Coppelia, Giselle and Swan Lake before rounding off their 2022/2023 tour in Peterborough and Bournemouth.
Coppelia is a great, comedic introduction to ballet which is an essential for aspiring ballerinas to get a real feel for the hard work and determination that goes into becoming a corps de ballet or, maybe even a soloist! Although perhaps lesser known than others, it is one that gently takes your hand and leads you into the world of ballet with a storyline that can be followed relatively easily – especially when guided by the programme (priced at £7).
With a powerful score by Leo Delibes delivered by a fantastic orchestra and conducted by the incredibly energetic conductor, Tuleshkov. I was in awe of him throughout the production. The energy and power that he put into his work was inspiring.
The story of Coppelia is relatively simple. A toymaker, Dr. Coppelius, who wants to bring his life size dancing doll come to life, and the love affair of the incredibly flirty and mischievous Franz who falls for the doll and pushes aside his actual one true hearts desire, Swanilda.
The costumes brought vibrance and joy to the stage which was often muted as to not draw too much attention from the dancers. There was an incredible amount of pointe work which was impressive. I really enjoyed the final duet between Swanilda and Franz which demonstrated the skillsets of both of them with incredible leaps, lifts and pirouettes.
I was especially impressed by the dancers who were statues in the toyshop. It took me a while to clock they were actually dancers and not props. The sheer power and strength it would have taken to stand in position for an incredibly lengthy amount of time was jawdropping. Once they did their toy movement, I was in awe.
I was blown away by the performance of the doll too. The movements were incredibly wooden whilst maintaining a level of grace and beauty. I can not even begin to imagine the level of skill it takes to be able to pull off performing as a wooden toy and make it so believable. It was finished off nicely with a comedic moment where Dr. Coppelius then carried her off stage, impressively maintaining her toy doll character.
I believe in the 1 hour 20 minute performance, I only saw one minor mishap where there was a tanglement with the male trio, but it was recovered quickly.
Applause filled De Montfort Hall for the curtain call and rightly so. A great performance for first-time ballet goers and families alike. It’s a gentle ease in with a level of comedy which other classical ballets just don’t bring to the stage.
Coppelia is an enjoyable ballet showing that every toy has its story.
Varna will perform twice more at the De Montfort Hall, performing Giselle and Swan Lake before moving on to Peterborough. Tickets start at £24.50 for adults.
*Tickets gifted in exchange for an honest review.
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