September 25, 2018
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Chesapeake Ballet Company To Perform “Coppelia”

Judy Tacyn
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March 6, 2018

At its heart, “Coppelia” is a fun, all-ages love story about a case of mistaken identity that leads to hilarity and hijinks. Three performances will be held between April 7 and 8 at the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis.

Created by Dr. Coppelius, Coppelia is a doll so lifelike that the villagers believe she’s real when they see her sitting in the window.

When Franz, who is already engaged to Swanhilda, takes a liking to Coppelia, he’s determined to find out if Coppelia loves him, too, only to find himself trapped by Dr. Coppelius, who tries to take Franz’s spirit to give life to his beloved Coppelia. It’s up to Swanhilda to save her love.

Needless to say, if Coppelia, Franz, Swanhilda and Dr. Coppelius had Facebook profiles, their relationship status would likely be “it’s complicated.”

“Coppelia” is a rarely performed, lighthearted story that reminds us we can’t always trust what our eyes see. “It was last performed in 2013, so some of the dancers performing now as juniors and seniors were still in middle school,” said Chesapeake Ballet Company executive director Barbara Haskell. “It’s amazing to watch their growth and see them mature into more principal roles.

“The dancers have been working hard since the beginning of January to bring this ballet to life,” Haskell added. “The total rehearsal time each week is only three hours, but audiences will be impressed with the quality of our performances.”

Dancers’ ages range from 7 to 17 and they are from eight different schools in Anne Arundel, Queen Anne’s, Prince George’s and Baltimore counties.

“Our one main challenge has been the ability to find a male dancer with the technical training and availability to rehearse,” said Haskell. “We are blessed to have a senior from the Baltimore School for the Arts, Cameron Pelton, as our lead male dancer. Erin Diehl, a senior from Severna Park High School, is our female lead, Swanhilda.”

Diehl started dancing when she was just 3 years old at the Dance Academy in Severna Park, where her older sister, Grace, was taking lessons. She has danced continuously since then and now practices at the Edna Lee Dance Studio in Ferndale in addition to the SPHS Dance Company and the Chesapeake Ballet Company.

“In addition to partnering again with Cameron, I love the comedy of this ballet, which will appeal to kids of all ages,” said Diehl. “I love to dance because I can express a range of emotions and I love to move with the music - whether it’s an Irish jig or an orchestrated Tchaikovsky classic.”

Lola Alpert, a fifth-grade student at Oak Hill Elementary School, has been dancing since she was 3 years old. She dances a part of a village child. “It’s really cool to be a part of a ballet because every movement is so meaningful,” said Alpert, inferring that no words are spoken during a performance, and every emotion and situation must be fully explained through dance.

“My favorite part is Coppelia,” added Alpert. “Because she’s a doll and not human, she has some really cool movements that not everyone gets to do.”

Sisters Emma and Miranda Smearman, a freshman at Severna Park High School and a seventh-grader at Severna Park Middle School, respectively, are also part of the cast.

“I dance the role of Mazurka and the role of a friend. The dance of Mazurka is a waltz,” said Emma. “I really like ‘Coppelia’ because it is a very funny, lively and colorful ballet. Being part of the Chesapeake Ballet Company is tons of fun.”

Miranda Smearman dances the part of Mazurka and Hours. “Dancing with the Chesapeake Ballet Company is really, really fun,” she said. “The ballet ‘Coppelia’ is pretty entertaining! I like that we have the chance to dance different roles in different ballets, and classes with Ms. Barb and Mr. Dmitri are fantastic.”

Kassia and Luke Gautreau, homeschoolers from Pasadena, may be in fourth and fifth grades respectively, but the siblings are already experienced and accomplished performers. They dance the roles of village children.

“I like ‘Coppelia’ because it’s not another princess ballet,” said Kassia. “It’s almost like an Aesop fable in a ballet, and there is a lot of great choreography.”

Kassia said she loves the Chesapeake Ballet Company because she gets to make new friends, “dance with the big girls,” and her teachers are very kind.

“Families should attend our performance because it gives them an hour and a half of quality time together where they can expose their children to the arts in a fun and entertaining way,” said Paula Hyman, publicity coordinator for the Chesapeake Ballet Company. “Our dancers always welcome young audience members backstage if they would like to meet someone up close. We also have special performances for scout troops to attend. We offer them a backstage meet and greet with cast members and a badge for attending.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.chesapeakeballetcompany.ticketleap.com.


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