BWW Reviews: Maine State Ballet Presents Lovely, Lyrical COPPELIA

Maine State Ballet's latest production of Coppélia is marked by a lovely wistfulness and lyricism and bolstered by fine choreography and impressive dancing. While not as glittering as the company's two previous offerings (Cinderella and Le Corsaire), this Coppélia is, nonetheless, a captivating and characterful fairy tale which appeals to a broad audience.

Linda MacArthur Miele's choreography. (based on the original by Arthur Saint-Léon and Marius Petipa and influenced by Balanchine's version) set to music by Léo Delibes, is well-tailored to the strengths of her twenty-nine-person company, and she builds solo moments around the virtues of her individual dancers. She also maintains a deft hand with the comedy, steering clear of too much exaggeration, yet striking an appropriate note of witty charm. Gail Csoboth's décor captures the magic of both an idyllic Bohemian village and Dr. Coppelius' workshop, and her costumes, especially those for the various dolls and "Hours" are colorful and evocative. Frederick Bernier complements her work with an atmospheric lighting design and well-balanced sound design (the latter robust enough to prevail over the rumbling of the hall's air conditioning unit).

At the Saturday matinee the roles of the young lovers, Franz and Swanhilda, were played by Glenn Davis and Caitlin Bernard. Bernard makes a pert, saucy country lass, and her dancing is clean, musical, and shaped with graceful line. Davis brings a mischievous, loveable boyishness to her beau Franz, and he shines as both an elegant partner and a bravura soloist. The couple executed several striking lifts and fish dives, and they dazzled with their fouettés in the coda of the wedding pas de deux. Frederick Bernier made a lithe, nimble Dr. Coppelius, who resisted the temptation to overplay the character, yet offered plenty of choreographic humor, particularly in his amusing antics with limbs all akimbo in Act II.

The various national dances and other solos featured a well-rehearsed corps de ballet and some individual moments of note, among them Katie Guare dancing a sprightly "Csárdas," Elizabeth Dragoni and Nick Anderson as an electrifying pair of opposites in "Discord," and Maiki Saito (Franz at the evening performances) as a flamboyant and virile "Harvester." When Miele marshals all the company's forces for the sparkling finale, one senses the energy, joy, and poetry which inspire these dancers and which also prove irresistible to the audience.

Photos Courtesy Maine State Ballet (Production photos of evening cast, Rhiannon Pelletier, Maiki Saito)

Coppélia runs until August 15, 2015 at the Maine State Ballet Theatre, 348 Route One, Falmouth, ME www.mainstateballet.org 207-781-7672

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From This Author Carla Maria Verdino-S├╝llwold

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