“Mummy, why aren’t the princesses talking?”
I think Disney has a lot to answer for.
In a loud whisper, I explain to my nearly 5 year old it is a story ‘told through dance (and the dancers are not princesses)’. I half expected him to say, “Mummy, I talk and laugh all the way through Gangnam style!”.
Coppelia is the story of a reclusive inventor who believes the doll he has created will come to life with the right tweaks. A local girl dresses up as the doll and plays a trick on him, plus her friends and her fiancé run riot in his workshop. Does he call the police? No – they aren’t a bad bunch really, and he just wants a friend.
We saw Cinderella last year, which was a roaring success and also very audibly noted that my daughter had never seen men in tights before. The memory had clearly stuck going on the amount of giggling on the bus.
There is narrative unlike a grown-up ballet, which in the case of My First Coppelia came from the Mad Inventor. So simple, so brilliant – and echoed by every other parent in the audience to their little culture vultures.
As the “Silly Girl” from across the square tried to coax the doll, Coppelia, down to the square the inventor shares his contempt with the audience and his creation, “ She thinks you are real – lets play a trick on her.” The narrative did not distract from the dance and in fact made the story wonderfully easy to follow – for me included! The dancers from the English National Ballet School are glorious – and the leads did their bit with that extra big kick/jump/swirl of the arm – or was it simply more experience and confidence?
It is a well known ballet but not a story my children knew, or one that I remembered well. When my 7 year old daughter said to me, “Mummy, there is too much dancing,” I momentarily regretted not reading the story of Coppelia to them both before the event. The story of Cinderella is SO familiar that last year the fact it was dance was inconsequential.
However, by the end they had barely moved from their seats – pretty much transfixed by the action on stage (even after the chocolate ice-cream interval), so I let my regret go. I mentioned this last year – if my nearly 5 year old (very active) little boy can stay focused (mostly) for 90 minutes, with a brief interval, it must be good. It was and it is.
My kids ran, twirled and jumped their way out of the Peacock Theatre in a balletic frenzy. Back on the bus everything was soon back to normal as our chat about the set design for Coppelia brought us back to the film of the moment – Disney’s Frozen. We Let It Go – albeit, for a couple of hours.
My First Ballet is quite a treat but such a wonderful way to introduce ballet/theatre/performance to kids. There will be a tour soon so keep your eyes peeled if you missed this Peacock residence.
For more details see here.