As a dancer myself, this was not the first time I had seen English National Ballet perform so I did have my hopes set high. They definitely did not disappoint.
This timeless ballet has, over the years, been pushed to the bottom of the list and is often lost among the contemporary Matthew Bourne productions which are raved about every other day. I do love the modern and interpretative style but it’s becoming more and more rare to find a ballet as simply beautiful as this one. This rarity, in my eyes, is practically a crime.
The stunning costumes lavished with lace detailing and intricate set of cottages and gigantic dolls make the whole piece a visual sensation. In contrast to the straight forward story line it makes it a feast for the eyes and the ears rather than a work out for the mind.
It follows the traditional story of the eccentric toy maker falling in love with his beautiful life size ballet doll. The local heart throb, Franz, chooses the beautiful doll over his lover, Swanhilde, after spotting the doll, Coppelia, from a nearby balcony. In a jealous rage the girl breaks into the toy shop to discover the beautiful balcony woman is a wooden doll. The toy maker attempts to sacrifice Franz, who has sneaked in to meet his balcony sweetheart, to make his beloved doll come to life. The lover of Franz, attempts to save him by dressing up as the doll and pretending to come to life.
This story line was conveyed clearly through well known gestures such as ‘dance’ and ‘beautiful’ as well as international hand signs; even the six year old next to me had a rough idea of what was happening.
I went along with 47 other people, who ranged from ages 78 to 6. Each and everyone loved every second. Despite the younger girls and boys falling asleep during the bows they all sat silently through all three acts completely mesmerised.
Naturally, the dancing was the highlight. English National Ballet did it yet again by having the two leads Shiori Kase and Yonah Acosta, Carlos Acosta’s nephew, capture the audiences attention whilst simultaneously highlighting the quality of the ensemble accompanying them. Many of the dances involve recognisable and quick tempo steps giving the performance a boost of energy in contrast to the numerous pirouettes and leaps, all exquisitely executed.