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BRB - Coppelia - Birmingham - June 2013

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BRB opened their summer season in Birmingham on Tuesday with Sir Peter Wright's lovely 1995 production of Coppelia.  It really is a delicious traditional production and the company is looking on fabulus form.


Opening night honours went to Nao Sakuma, Chi Cao and Michael Ohare - three wonderful artists who gave us a night to remember.  Michael O'Hare as Dr Coppelius gave us an acting masterclass with a beautifully understated and ultimately moving portrayal of a lonely man lost in his puppets.  Nao Sakuma fizzed and sparkled as a mischievous Swanilda.  She was like quicksilver in the doll dances in Act 2.  Chi Cao was a magical cheeky chappy Franz.  There was a delicious moment in Act 1 when he had been blowing kisses at Coppelia and he turned round to see that Swanilda was on her balcony.  He had the most shame-faced expression for a nano-second.  Blink and you could have missed it but that tiny expression added so much depth to the character.  Chi is dancing at the top of his game at the moment and it was a joy to watch his immaculate solos and partnering.  Victoria Marr was a sultry, alluring Gypsy.  With the whole company sparking off each other this was definitely a performance to savour.


We had a real treat on Wednesday afternoon when Maureya Liebowitz made her debut with Joseph Caley as her Franz.  She was an absolute delight - a delicate touch to her scintillating dancing and deft acting.  I love Joseph Caley as Franz - just the right amount of cheekiness and boundless energy.


Another huge treat on Wednesday evening with Momoko Hirata and Tzu Chao Chou making their debuts.  What can I say about Momoko - she was utterly sublime!  Tzu Chao was a bundle of energy, again with a nice deft touch to his portrayal.  I had a silly grin spread across my face from beginning to end!


As ever the two lead roles do not a ballet performance make and as I said at the start the whole company is looking on wonderful form.  Not only was the dancing terrific but everyone contributed to the atmosphere by maintaining character throughout even when they were just looking at the leading dancers doing a solo or pdd.  The gentlemen of the Call to Arms in Act 3 were beautifully synchronised and made it look so easy!  Oliver Till on Wednesday afternoon was great as the leader - at one point he did a most spectacular leap of a type I have never seen before but had us all gasping.  Mathias Dingman led the 2 evening performances; he is so exciting to watch on stage and his happiness and enthusiasm shine through - brilliant.  Indeed the performance of Call to Arms on Wednesday night was so exciting that the audience started cheering way before the end.


All in all, three utterly fabulous performances!

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A couple of reviews from the local papers:




"Michael O’Hare, meanwhile, borrows elements of Charlie Chaplin and Mr Pastry for his whacky inventor and scene-stealing honours go to Victoria Marr as the Gypsy temptress who becomes the pre-eminent glint in Franz’s roving eye."




"But in this role Chi has come fully of age. He is genuinely the likely lad who Swanilda bosses around but whose roving eye mistakes Coppelia for a real girl and plans to do something about it. Nao’s second act performance as the pretend doll is technically astonishing and acted with real charm."

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Here's a nice review of Maureya Lebowitz debut from the Independent:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-dance/reviews/dance-review-copplia-birmingham-hippodrome-birmingham-8651904.html


"Lebowitz shows a nice sense of mischief in Coppélius’ workshop. The doll dances are crisply performed, switching from automaton to living woman. Her Swanilda is naughty but soft-hearted: she shows unusual sympathy for Coppélius when she admits her trick on him."

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