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SFB 2016: Coppélia


apollosmuse

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Casting is now up on SFB's website for Coppélia. It is (except for Maria Kochetkova) the principal women not in SL, and Dores Andre making her debut as Swanilda.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016 - 7:30pm—Opening Night

Swanilda: Frances Chung
Franz: Vitor Luiz
Dr. Coppelius: Pascal Molat^+
Wednesday, March 09, 2016 - 7:30pm
Swanilda: Maria Kochetkova
Franz: Gennadi Nedvigin
Dr. Coppelius: Pascal Molat
Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 7:30pm
Swanilda: Dores André^
Franz: Joseph Walsh
Dr. Coppelius: Ricardo Bustamante
Friday, March 11, 2016 - 8pm
Swanilda: Vanessa Zahorian
Franz: Taras Domitro
Dr. Coppelius: Ruben Martin Cintas^+
Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 2pm
Swanilda: Frances Chung
Franz: Vitor Luiz
Dr. Coppelius: Pascal Molat
Saturday, March 12, 2016 - 8pm
Swanilda: Maria Kochetkova
Franz: Gennadi Nedvigin
Dr. Coppelius: Pascal Molat
Sunday, March 13, 2016 - 2pm
Swanilda: Dores André
Franz: Joseph Walsh
Dr. Coppelius: Ricardo Bustamante
Sunday, March 13, 2016 - 7pm
Swanilda: Vanessa Zahorian
Franz: Taras Domitro
Dr. Coppelius: Ruben Martin Cintas
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I saw SF Ballet’s Coppelia Thursday evening March 10 (Balanchine choreo). It was my first time seeing Coppelia live but thanks to YouTube the ballet was not completely unfamiliar. I loved the look of this production — beautiful colors, cute kids. The orchestra (this year celebrating its 40th anniversary season) is sounding marvelous, the first violins executing the tricky 32nd note runs accompanying “Swanhilda’s friends” with great panache. Two instrumental soloists stood out: our new concertmaster Cordula Marks in the first act and violist Yi Zhou in the last act pas de deux. Dores Andre was a competent but not sparkling Coppelia somewhat mismatched with the gorgeous Joseph Walsh. His third act variations were spectacular — we are so lucky to have him here in San Francisco! I just wish the mazurka dancers had been better trained — having seen the fabulous Bolshoi mazurka on YT I found the SF version almost unwatchable. One further highlight: Jennifer Stahl as the soloist in the Waltz of the Golden Hours, showing the most beautiful epaulement of the evening. Would love to see this production again!

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Would love to see this production again!

Welcome to the forum, SFCleo - thanks for the report on Coppelia. I think my preferences for the Swanhilda role run more towards Zahorian and Chung, but I think Kochetkova may do a good job of it as well (I haven't seen hers). Andre is new to some of these principal roles and is going to take time to develop her "artistry".

Totally agree about Walsh as a dancer, and hopefully, he will turn into a great partner as well. Stahl is probably next in line for promotion to principal, whenever Tomasson feels the need to hire from within. His problem now is to find at least one more, if not two, brilliant danseurs to deal with the snowballing retirements.

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A quick note about today’s matinee, with Chung/Luiz (both excellent, especially the amazing Frances Chung). Didn’t have time before the performance to look at the rest of the cast list, and during intermission was too busy yakking to friends, so didn’t know who would be dancing Dawn, Prayer and Spinner in the third act. Dawn (Rebecca Rhodes) and Spinner (newest soloist Lauren Strongin) were nicely performed, but Prayer made me sit up and wonder, who is THAT? I almost missed my bus taking time to find out THAT was Jahna Frantziskonis. Gorgeous arms and upper body (and I mean really gorgeous), excellent ballon, strong technique, but especially that indefinable something that says ‘star quality’. I can certainly understand why the PNB audience is sorry to lose her.

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An actual stellar review -

Review: San Francisco Ballet's 'Coppélia' is a gem of comedic pantomime and bravura dancing
http://www.mercurynews.com/theater-dance/ci_29616020/review-san-francisco-ballets-coppelia-is-gem-comedic

"It's a romp, a gem of comedic pantomime, a visual feast and an opportunity for bravura dancing all rolled into one. May it remain in the rep for a long time."

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As I was reading up on Coppelia for my review, what I kept wanting to find out, and haven't been able to, was the origins of Swanilda's sudden unsupported tilt in passe -- you know at the end of her big 1st act variation, she poses on pointe in retire/passe and suddenly takes her whole torso sideways. Frances Chung did this with amazing aplomb. [so did Masha, with less power.] Question is, is that move Cecchetti, Petipa, or St Leon? It's such an arresting image, and so powerful! Aurora does it, with the prince's support, in the wedding pdd in Sleeping Beauty. Obviously it affected Ashton, who was ALWAYS asking his dancers to tilt in hte upper body.... Balanchine used the move at the end of Symphony in C, when all FOUR ballerinas do it [supported] on hte last note.


But Swanilda does it with NO help, only some angels there to hold her up. Of course she's going to defeat Dr Coppelius. Her mime shows her to be a strong-minded girl -- but this step in particular shows her power, her aplomb, her grounded force. DO you know where it comes from? Is it a ballerina's trick, like the fouettes, something a student of Cecchetti's came up with and said "look what I can do?"


on hte other hand, it may be something Petipa saw St Leon's ballerina do? Did Giuseppina Bozzacchi do it?


Inquiring minds need to know.


RG, Doug, Alexandra, do you know?


PS thank you Pherank for posting Ann Murphy's EXCELLENT review of Coppelia from the San Jose Mercury: it's a joy to read, very well-informed [she knows the ballet well and actually learned some of the friends' variations in Cecchetti class] -- a wise report from a good judge.

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As I was reading up on Coppelia for my review, what I kept wanting to find out, and haven't been able to, was the origins of Swanilda's sudden unsupported tilt in passe -- you know at the end of her big 1st act variation, she poses on pointe in retire/passe and suddenly takes her whole torso sideways. Frances Chung did this with amazing aplomb. [so did Masha, with less power.] Question is, is that move Cecchetti, Petipa, or St Leon? It's such an arresting image, and so powerful! Aurora does it, with the prince's support, in the wedding pdd in Sleeping Beauty. Obviously it affected Ashton, who was ALWAYS asking his dancers to tilt in hte upper body.... Balanchine used the move at the end of Symphony in C, when all FOUR ballerinas do it [supported] on hte last note.

Now I'm curious, Paul - can you point us to some video online to see what movement you are referring to?

And many others besides.

The good news is, Jahna is being used fairly frequently in demi-soloist type roles. She is getting to dance as much as anyone in the Corps. But there is a lot of talented competition, and Tomasson has to find opportunities for all these Jahna's. It will be fun to watch how things develop...

The SFB promo video for Coppelia is worth another look - I had forgotten that Tomasson was the original Franz:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQIoBFpVtKQ

And there is a new video with Andre and Walsh talking about their debut in the lead roles:

https://www.facebook.com/sfballet/videos/10153805513131293/

These videos are a reminder of how great Pascal Molat and Gennadi Nedvigin are in character roles, and how difficult it will be to replace them.

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I saw one thing in a review and then later the subject came up in a conversation a day ago; I thought I had heard it all but someone told me she felt so badly for the old man in the second act and really thought it was a case of elder abuse???????????????? (no kidding!)

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Sad to say, I can match that and raise you one.

I attend with a friend who used those exact words: ‘…elder abuse…’ (plus she thought Coppelia was boring - too much mime, not enough dance (!) )

AND, she thought the female corps de ballet costumes in Magrittomania were offensively sexist. I don’t know what image the costume designer used as a basis for the costumes, but this is the closest I can find.

Whatever.

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AND, she thought the female corps de ballet costumes in Magrittomania were offensively sexist ...

Translations from famous paintings to theater are generally tricky and they often weigh down the show with "look at this" and "guess where this is from" or "why is this here".

I found the women's costumes in Magrittomania pretty offensive too – and humiliating. Why didn't the men have to wear awkward strap-on props to make them look equally naked? This was not the sense of the Magritte painting.

On the other hand, in the original story by ETA Hoffmann, Dr Coppelius causes Frantz to have a psychotic break and almost strangle Swanilda, as I remember, so he perhaps deserves a bit of shaking up.

Anyway Coppelia was a delight, best SFB Balanchine I thought since Symphony in Three Movements. The mime work was endlessly fascinating and the third act had treat after treat – who knew where it would end. Unluckily missed Chung, but did see Silve, Zahorian (dancing very strongly) and Domitro.

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Now I'm curious, Paul - can you point us to some video online to see what movement you are referring to?

I couldn't find video of her doing the move unsupported -- but the side-bend-in-releve-passe turns up at the very beginning of the wedding pdd, here

http://www.nycballet.com/ballets/c/coppelia.aspx....she does it twice, at o:o3 and 0:06

with James Fayette [supporting Megan Fairchild], the move is lyrical and sweet -- when she does it all by herself in the first act variation, it's much more percussive, she hits the pose and holds it, all by herself..

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Now I'm curious, Paul - can you point us to some video online to see what movement you are referring to?

I couldn't find video of her doing the move unsupported -- but the side-bend-in-releve-passe turns up at the very beginning of the wedding pdd, here

http://www.nycballet.com/ballets/c/coppelia.aspx....she does it twice, at o:o3 and 0:06

with James Fayette [supporting Megan Fairchild], the move is lyrical and sweet -- when she does it all by herself in the first act variation, it's much more percussive, she hits the pose and holds it, all by herself..

Is the unsupported version what we see Zahorian do at 1:12 here? (with fast cut away)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQIoBFpVtKQ

and Kochetkova perform three times at 3:37 here?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drcEqlAA4F4

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It looks like Bolshoi ballerinas don't do the side bend -- at least not in the 2009 Vikharev reconstruction. Here's Alexandrova https://youtu.be/7vbVLo7Mhv4?t=21m43sand Osipova https://youtu.be/R1QKY7JVnv0?t=2m39s. At most they only look to the side. Perhaps the side bend is a Balanchine innovation.

Not knowing the technical term, I always referred to this step as the "quick reverse". ;)

What does seem to be very Balanchine, is the initial repetition of the movement which sets up audience expectation, and when Kochetkova repeats the movement at around 3:40, instead of doing it twice, she does a variation the second time. Balanchine loved to toy with expectations, and subvert cliches.

It reminds me a bit of a similar movement in La Valse, in which Le Clercq throws up her arm in a Russian or gypsy-fashion (0:46) and looks quickly to the side - this is repeated with variation.

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Thank you both, Pherank and Sfcleo, for those fascinating posts. Thanks for doing the research; I enjoyed both those clips, and -- well Alexandrova and Osipova are both thrilling even if they DON"T do the the 'quick reverse" [which they most certainly do not].

I still want to know more. Maybe Cecchetti invented it? [he did a restaging in 1894 (when Petipa was sick?)? In any case, Pherank nailed the move with her clips , so now we know what we're talking about [and what to call it for shorthand -- "The quick reverse"]. Did you notice how much bigger Vanessa's cambre was?? Masha did it very classically, correct, and Vanessa really went over the wall! !Pherank, it sounds like you've danced this role! -- wish I'd seen you do it. How hard is it? --

I think this move belongs to the Ballets Russes tradition and goes way back [but GOd knows how far: maybe Nijinska made it up?] In any case, I first noticed it in a small production starring Lauren Jonas [who's now artistic director of DIablo Ballet]; she was incredible, she was just amazing, in this little show with a small audience just like those the Ballets RUsses used to have when they toured the entire USA in the 30s, playing every town with an auditorium.

Oakland Ballet used to do a Ballets-Russes-based Coppelia, probably staged by Frederick Franklin [who was Franz in Balanchine's famous version in 1947 of which Danilova was the star -- which was the basis for his NYCB version in 1974, which Danilova helped him put together for Patricia McBride].

Let's keep asking.

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21:53 ? :)

Yes, that seems to be the same type of movement, and there can be endless variation of how to move/place the limbs.

I always referred to that as a side cambre.

Thank you, PeggyTulle - that helps. When I looked up cambré, it seemed to be referring to the upper body motion only. How would you describe the arm and leg movements in the Coppelia version?

"Cambré is a classical ballet term meaning “arched.” When a dancer is doing cambré, their body is bent from the waist and stretching backward or sideways with the head following the movement of the upper body and arms."

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Thank you Mme Hermine. Yes, Aurora does the move - -and Fonteyn did it with great amplitue and authority and musicality == and a really nice recovery, too.

At the end of Symphony in C, Balanchine has all 4 ballerinas lined up across the front of the stage and they do this move on the final note of the symphony, and they [with the support of their cavaliers] hold the arched pose in a final tableau, without returning to vertical.

Aurora does hte move as the "finish" of a supported releve pirouette, with the working leg in passe [aka retire] and a cavalier standing behind her to help hold her "on her leg." Swanilda does a much simpler move -- or it WOULD be simpler if she had a cavalier to hold her up -- she does a pique sideways bringing the working leg to passe [where the knee is bent so that htat foot touches hte knee of the standing leg]; and having established her verticality on the standing leg she arches sideways without losing her aplomb. The big difference is she doesn't have a man standing behind her holding her up.

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