Studio West Dance Academy tackles light, funny 'Coppelia'

Contributing writerMay 2, 2013 

  • ‘COPPELIA’

    What: Studio West Dance Academy presents the comic ballet about a man who falls in love with a mechanical doll.

    When: 7 p.m. today and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

    Where: Minnaert Center for the Arts, South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia

    Tickets: $24-$22 for adults, $20-$18 for students and seniors, and $15 for children younger than 12

    Information: washingtoncenter.org, studiowestdanceacademy.com, 360-753-8586

On Friday night, Studio West Dance Academy presents its first production of “Coppélia,” about a silly young man who falls in love with a mechanical doll until his clever fiancée shows him the error of his ways.

Like “The Nutcracker,” the company’s holiday staple, the ballet is a perennial favorite, said Stephanie Wood, co-owner of the school and who choreographed the ballet with Studio West’s Marianna Ramsour.

“It was first choreographed in 1870,” Wood said. “It’s one of the oldest ballets that’s still being performed in companies across the world, mainly I think because it reaches out to the audience.

“It’s interesting to me that it was never a Disney movie, because it has the feel of a Disney story, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. It’s about love and friendship, and there’s lots of comedy.”

“What is fun about the character of Franz is that he’s kind of goofy and he’s a little silly,” said Joseph Jefferies, who is dancing the role and has played the prince in Studio West’s “The Nutcracker” the past two years. “A lot of times I have to play a prince, and it’s very serious.”

The Studio West production of the ballet has been mostly double cast; about 80 dancers are involved. Nicole Carson, a senior at Olympia High School, and Kinsey Love, a junior at North Thurston High School, are sharing the role of Swanhilde, who wins the foolish Franz despite his crush on the doll Coppélia.

The production features costumes and sets rented from the Eugene (Ore.) Ballet, which also sold the company the costumes and sets for “The Nutcracker.”

“The sets just arrived on Sunday,” Wood said. “They’re beautiful.”

Jefferies, who danced with Wood at Ballet Memphis in Tennessee, just arrived, too, although he visited Olympia in February to learn the role. He’s been rehearsing here only since Monday evening.

The ballet has a few more similarities to “The Nutcracker.” Both are based on stories by E.T.A. Hoffman, and the character of Dr. Coppélius, who makes the mechanical dolls, is quite similar to that of Herr Drosselmeyer, who gives Clara the nutcracker that launches her fantastic voyage.

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