BALLET PHILIPPINES is set to launch its 54th season this August with a full-length ballet performance of Coppelia. Based on the short story by E.T.A. Hoffman, this comic ballet was originally staged in 1870 at the Théâtre Impérial de l’Opéra in Paris by choreographer Arthur Saint-Léon.
Coppelia tells the tale of young lovers on a quest to end the evil ways of a mad scientist and his mysterious “daughter”. Love conquers all in this enduring narrative that reminds us to look beyond surface beauty and embrace our perfect imperfections. Through the power of dance, Ballet Philippines invites audiences on a journey of self-discovery with COPPELIA. This season’s restaging inspires introspection into relevant themes like mental health and self-love. while delivering a lighthearted performance.
Originally written by Charles-Louis Etienne Nuttier, Coppelia follows Dr. Coppélius, an inventor who creates a beautiful life-sized, mechanical doll named Coppelia. We are also introduced to a pair of young lovers, Swanhilda and Franz, who plan to marry at a celebratory harvest festival in their village.
The plot thickens when Franz lays his eyes on Coppelia whom he believes to be human. This stirs discord between the couple, and compels Swanhilda to sneak into the house to find out more about this mysteriously beautiful girl. She discovers that Coppelia is, in fact, a mechanical doll.
In an effort to win back Franz’s heart, Swanhilda decides to impersonate Coppelia by dressing up as a doll. Meanwhile, Dr. Coppélius lures Frantz into his home for an evil spell. He intends to bring Coppelia to life by transferring Franz’s soul into her body. Adventure and chaos ensues as Swanhilda uses her folly to save her true love from an untimely demise.
Coppelia holds a special place in the heart of Ballet Philippines Artistic Director Mikhail “Misha” Martynyuk, who began his career dancing in a production of the ballet. “Coppelia is all about festivity and brightness. It symbolizes the celebration of a new season,” he shared. “It was also my very first performance as a dancer. I performed the lead role. I am very well-versed with the music, the libretto, and the technique. After my premiere, I got 24 invitations to dance Coppelia in Spain. With that, I think I brought all my learnings from my teachers, and I want to share it with my dancers [in the Philippines].”
Martynuk’s interpretation of Coppelia draws inspiration from the 1884 St. Petersburg production staged by iconic choreographer Marius Petipa. However, he has choreographed the ballet with the intention of showcasing the strength and power of the company’s dancers. “Ballet will always be developed,” he said. “I adapted my version from the original and added several Filipino elements. It is developed with more technique, more style, and [more] characters.” He hopes that this light-hearted performance will inspire audiences to celebrate life for what it is–beautiful, mad, joyful, lonely, and all around filled with lessons.
This production of Coppelia will also kick off this season’s theme of The Power of Dance. It promises to showcase the company’s incredible TECHNIQUE and the power that it yields in bringing tales as old as time to modern audiences. Martynyuk explains, “It’s all about dance force—which explains the TECHNIQUE, STYLE and CHARACTER which shows the artistic side of a person.”