Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Orlando Ballet brings the magic of Coppélia to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.


On April 30th I went to the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts to sketch a dress rehearsal of Coppélia. In Greek Coppélia means "young lady" and this comic ballet premiered in 1870. The performance was set to he music of Léo Delibes. Terry decided that she wanted to see this rehearsal, so she met me in front of the Center. When I opened the stage door, I was surprised to see a crowd of journalists. At Earth Day, I bumped into Jim Cundiff, the Interim Executive Director at the Orlando Ballet. He told me about an exciting collaboration between the Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic, and Central Florida Community Arts. It turned out that this rehearsal was the platform to officially announce this collaboration.

Robert Hill, the Ballet's Artistic Director, David Shilhammer, the Executive Director of the Orlando Philharmonic and Joshua Vickery the founder and Executive Director of Central Florida Community Arts stood on stage before the rehearsal.  Since it's inception in 1974, the Orlando Ballet has relied on recorded music for it's performances. Starting in October of 2015, the Philharmonic Orchestra will perform in the pit to bring all future ballet performances to life. David Shilhammer explained that recorded music limits the performers from taking chances and varying their rhythm and timing, The orchestra can adapt to each performance allowing for greater flexibility. In April of 2016 the Ballet will collaborate with Central Florida Community Arts which has 800 singers in multiple choirs. This is a win win for all the organizations and audiences. As the Dr. Phillips Center was being constructed, critics assumed that local arts groups would never stand to benefit. This incredible collaboration proves that they can and will endure.

Coppélia concerns an inventor, Dr Coppelius, who has made a life-size dancing doll. It is so lifelike that Franz, a village youth, becomes infatuated with it and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilde. She shows him his folly by dressing as the doll, pretending to make it come to life and ultimately saving him. The rehearsal was playful and magical. The mechanical dance choreography was delightful. I had never seen this ballet and I am glad I finally did. I also admired the gorgeous painted backdrops which had a rich deep impressionistic use of color. I would think that the dancers might hold back a bit in a rehearsal, but everyone danced full out. Many of their athletic moves defied gravity.

Mark Your Calendars! The remaining performances of  Coppélia are today May 2nd at 11am and 8pm and May 3rd at 2pm at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 445 South Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL. Tickets  starting at $38.75 are available online or at the box office. This really is an amazing production, and bring your kids, they will love it too.

Looking ahead...
October 30- November 1, 2015 Gisselle with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
December 17 - 20, 2015 Nutrcacker with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
February 5-7, 2016 the world premiere of The Firebird with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
March 18-20, 2016 Don Quixote with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
April 29-May 1, 2016 the world premiere of Beauty and the Beast with Central Florida Community Arts.


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