The ballet “Coppélia” tells the charming story of an eccentric toymaker, his life-like creation, and a young couple in love. Full of delightful characters and beautiful choreography, the ballet is a light-hearted comedy that will charm audiences both young and old.
Coppélia will run for three performances at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Averitt Center’s Emma Kelly Theater.
The production features new choreography by the Averitt Center’s artistic director, Jurijs Safonovs. His version is the full-length version, featuring Statesboro Youth Ballet students, special guest artists from Taiwan, and performances by professional guest artists Jennifer Safonovs and Robery Wesner - both from Neos Dance Theatre.
“Coppelia brings back the best memories from the time I danced in the Latvian Ballet,” Jurijs Safonovs said. “I always liked Coppelia for its “lightness”, comedic plot, and the broad range of dance styles - from pure classics to energetic, high-spirited folk dances. It requires a dancer to use his or her acting skills, which I always loved to incorporate in my performances. We toured with this ballet all over the world and always had great success with it.”
The tale revolves around the budding romance of young lovers, Swanhilda and Franz, and the curious workings of their mysterious neighbor, Doctor Coppélius. The couple’s courtship is interrupted when Franz becomes hopelessly infatuated with a beautiful, life-like doll created by the inventor.
Critics say Coppélia leaves audiences bemused by the characters’ antics and is a delight for the whole family.
Based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Coppélia is regarded as one of the triumphant comedic ballets of the 19th Century and has remained a standard of the classical ballet repertoire. The beloved ballet, set to a score by Leo Délibes, was first performed by the Paris Opéra Ballet, with original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon. It includes melodic national dances, descriptive passages introducing the main characters, and musical effects that have captured audiences for more than 100 years.
This positive reception led to Safonovs’ desire to bring the ballet to the Statesboro. “The idea to do it came two years ago,” he said. “We quickly realized that in order to build a new ballet featuring our students, we would need to raise the money to pay for new costumes, sets, props, and so on. It took close to a year to prep a fundraiser, and the effort has paid off. We secured the necessary funds, assembled a team of talented artists to work on sets, costumes and lights, and in January 2015 we had our first dance rehearsal!”
Since then, dancers have been hard at work preparing for the performance, rehearsing both on weekends and also after weekly ballet classes.
Safonovs said he believes all of the hard work has paid off and he is excited for local audiences to experience Coppélia.
“My goal in presenting this production was to give the Statesboro community a chance to see another uplifting story ballet written by ETA Hoffmann, the author of The Nutcracker,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better ballet to showcase our students' joy for dance and their level of ballet technique.”
All performances are open to the public. Tickets for the show are $18 for adults and $10 for youth. To reserve your ticket please call the Averitt Center Box Office at (912) 212-2787 or purchase online at www.averittcenterforthearts.org. Box office hours are Tuesday-Friday from noon-5:30 p.m.