Dream Role: Swanilda

In Balanchine’s comedic Coppélia, San Francisco Ballet’s Frances Chung brings out Swanilda’s playful side. All of Swanilda’s actions come from a place of pure fun. She’s kind of sassy, but I like bringing out her playfulness instead of taking a more bratty approach. The role comes quite naturally to my personality. When my partner and IMore »

#TBT: Natalia Osipova in Coppélia (2009)

Bolstered by its eccentric characters, Coppélia has comic flare like no other ballet. In this 2009 rendition staged by Sergei Vikharev, Natalia Osipova, a then 23-year-old Bolshoi Ballet soloist, storms the stage in Swanhilda’s variation from Act III. It would be another year before her promotion in 2010, but here Osipova demonstrates all of theMore »

#TBT: Leanne Benjamin as Swanhilda in “Coppèlia” (2000)

Among the set, costuming and score of a ballet, movement becomes the most powerful form of expression—especially in romantic-era story ballets, which entertain and convey a plot without words. Thus, the most underrated skill of a professional dancer becomes crucial: miming. The subtlest gesture can convey heartbreak, joy and even the desires and frustrations of certain characters. 

 

When Franz Met Swanilda

In a rehearsal before their Lincoln Center performance of Coppélia last May, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin ran through some of the partnering in a studio several levels below the Metropolitan Opera stage where they would perform. In Frederic Franklin’s charming production for American Ballet Theatre, Swanilda, danced by Lane, and Franz, by Simkin, mustMore »

#TBT: Lisa Bolte dancing the Prayer Variation from Coppélia (1990)

Many Romantic ballets revolve around tragedy when dealing with love and romance. However, some simply attempt to replicate the joy of dancing, and produce little conflict other than a delayed marriage (Swanilda’s story in Coppélia hardly compares to the trials and tribulations of Odette’s in Swan Lake). Still, beauty remains a major component to all ballets, no matter the conclusion.

Feisty Finesse

Still winded from a run-through of Swanilda’s 10-minute Act III pas de deux, Lesley Rausch walks through her variation with Pacific Northwest Ballet ballet master Otto Neubert. “You have a killer instep; show that to the audience,” says Neubert. As they move along the diagonal together—a kind of pas de cheval into chassé pas deMore »

Living Doll

Of all the full-length classical ballets, Coppélia charms audiences with humor above everything else. The ballet tells the tale of Swanilda and Franz, who are engaged to be married. When Franz falls for a doll, Swanilda impersonates it, and mayhem ensues. Here, Texas Ballet Theater’s Jayme Autrey Griffith offers her thoughts on the lead role,More »

Standouts: Our 12 favorite performances of 2009

Dancer: Sarah Van PattenCompany: San Francisco Ballet Ballet: Marius Petipa’s Swan Lake San Francisco Ballet principal Sarah Van Patten always commands the stage in roles that call for dramatic depth and musicality. But because she is not usually thought of as a strong technician, she was a long shot to be cast as Odette/Odile inMore »