The story of a doll maker, a mechanical girl, and two young lovers was brought to life in grand form last night by Ballet Austin and The Austin Symphony Orchestra, and I can honestly say I have never laughed as hard at the ballet as I did while watching Coppélia. Absolutely delightful!
I don’t want to give too much of the story away, because I believe the tale is one best encountered without much background. All I will say about it is that it’s the story of young love run aground by the presence of a lovely life-sized doll and then recovered by a spunky young girl determined to have her man. To say much more about it could spoil the plot which is craftily told by the slapstick humor, character acting, and miming of the dancers. I intentionally avoided reading too much about Coppélia before attending the show last night, because I enjoy encountering stories fresh and without any preconceived notions of what to expect. With ballet, this sometimes leads to me missing important plot points or misunderstanding twists in the storyline, but this was not the case with Coppélia. Ballet Austin tells the story so clearly, one would have to be blind not to “hear” it.
While The Austin Symphony Orchestra played, the curtain rose to reveal a small village some hundreds of years ago. The set design, which remained constant and unchanging throughout the performance was marvelous! It didn’t take much imagination to transport oneself to this village containing a local tavern, a doll maker’s shop, and the home of sweet and feisty Swanilde … and the dancing, as always, was superb. Over these years I have seen this troupe perform everything from the most classic of classical ballets such as The Nutcracker to truly experimental works choreographed by Director Stephen Mills himself, and in every case, the performances were flawless. Last night’s performance of Coppélia was also flawless and beautiful with the added joy of also being hilariously funny! I’d expect nothing less from such a world-class troupe. They always deliver masterful performances.
If you have a hankering to see some great dancing, hear fantastically performed music, and laugh harder than you might imagine you could at the ballet, catch this weekend’s performance of Coppélia at the Long Center. You won’t regret it. In fact, since this weekend is Mother’s Day, take your mom to the Sunday afternoon performance! She’ll love it! It’s a very accessible ballet for kids or first-time ballet goers too, and I guarantee without a doubt, you will walk out with a huge smile on your face and laughter in your heart. Go see it while you can!
Mother’s Day Weekend at the Long Center
Ballet Austin Concludes its Season with Coppélia
Classical Ballet’s Greatest Comedy: The Story of Boy Meets Doll
WHO: Ballet Austin
Choreography: Arthur Saint-Léon
Music: Léo Delibes
Musical Accompaniment: The Austin Symphony Orchestra
WHEN: May 7-8 at 8 p.m., May 9 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Michael & Susan Dell Hall
701 W. Riverside Dr.
TICKETS: $27-77, by calling 512.476.2163 or visit Ballet Austin
Furthermore, if you’ve never been to the Long Center before, you will be awed by the architecture and surrounding grounds. While I will admit to still missing the old green dome of the Palmer Center somewhat, the Long Center is a masterpiece of design and a shining gem in the heart of Austin. I’ll be going back soon with something more powerful than my phone camera to snap a few hundred photos in such a beautiful location. There’s really no better place to see the beauty of Austin’s changing skyline.