Sunday, March 17, 2013


Chelmsford Ballet Company at the Civic Theatre

Coppélia was the first ballet presented by our city's own ballet company just after the war, and it has been successfully revived many times since.
This latest version, adapted by Artistic Director Annette Potter, soft-pedals the sinister and concentrates on the fun, the humour and the magic. A packed matinée loved it, and enjoyed some lovely warm performances. Setting the tone, Andy Potter as a nutty professor Coppelius, grumpily guarding his magic doll.
Popping in like Alice through the tiny door, Demi Aldred made a feisty Swanilda, the girl who turns automaton to get her man. She danced with easy fluency – an impressive Act III solo – and an infectious sense of mischief: she had lots of fun with her gang of four, who made a neat ensemble without looking too regimented. Her Franz was guest artist Richard Bermange, who was dazzling in his solos, partnered Demi in an elegant pas de deux, and was brilliant at drawing the audience into the plot.
A happy corps de ballet, beautifully costumed, provided a colourful context – reapers, national dolls, crusader knights, hours and bridesmaids; there was outstanding work from Samantha Ellis in the two surviving solo divertissements, and from Michael Smith and Megan McLatchie leading the increasingly frenetic Czardas.

1 comment:

Mary Redman said...

Following a fair few years with sparse audiences for CBC performances it was heartwarming and an enormous pleasure to walk into the Civic and find it virtually full. What was also pleasing was to see such a predominantly young cast including a dashing young guest professional leading man and two very keen, confident and youthful male dancers in the chorus.
Annette Potter worked her magic on the choreography to create a lively telling of the tale of the doll and the naughty village girl. The result was a tale clearly told which all of the audience could understand. This kind of populism is vital if the audience sizes are to be maintained in the future.
Another stroke of genius from Annette was the decision to choreographically close the dollmaker's house so that the audience could see what exactly how much work goes into a production.
Demi Aldred was a playful, lively Swanilda carefully partnered by Richard Bermange who also showed later in his solos that he could equally dance for the sheer joy of it.
Andrew Potter pottered around as Dr Coppelius while Samantha Ellis, Jessica Frogley, Lorian Kurzweil and Jessica Wilson were a great gang of Swanilda's naughty girlfriends. Notable in the Mazurka and elsewhere young Morgan Wren showed an
calm assurance that will stand him in good stead in coming years. Equally impressive thanks to his great height and composure was Michael Smith who just couldn't resist the rhythm of the music and with Morgan made a comic pair of Crusaders mechanically fighting each other.
Megan Roberts, Chloe Coady, Jessica Bailey and Darci Willsher were delightful foreign dolls and Samantha Ellis's Dawn and Prayer were beautiful.
As always with CBC costumes by the nine-strong team stole the show. There were neatly tailored hussar jackets for the Czardas while the little bridesmaids deep red, gloriously embroidered velvet jackets were delicious. For the final sections the predominant colour was sugar pink used in floating chiffon dresses to great effect.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and to judge by the applause so did the audience.
Which leaves us eagerly anticipating next year's The Nutcracker. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the company's inspiring new young patron Christopher Marney (an Associate Choreographer to Matthew Bourne and a thrilling vampire fairy in his Sleeping Beauty now on a world tour) could find the time to appear in that one!

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