Dance review: Coppelia

The Royal Ballet classic is a Chanukah treat for the whole family, says our critic, Joy Sable


For the first time in many years, the Royal Ballet is not performing its Nutcracker during this festive season. (Don’t worry — the English National Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet are staging their versions at other venues.)

Instead, Royal Opera House audiences can enjoy another classic —Coppélia — which features Delibes’ wonderful music and choreography by the company’s founder, Dame Ninette de Valois. The story is sweet and simple: lifesize doll is mistaken for a girl by a young man; after his real girlfriend causes mayhem in the toymaker’s workshop, order is restored for the sunniest of happy endings.

The ballet offers a feast of glorious dancing, from the famous Act I waltz and mazurka to Swanilda’s Act III solo variation. You will recognise many of the hummable tunes.

Francesca Hayward is a winning Swanilda, able to tackle the fast and furious footwork with ease, and showing a nice sense of fun in the workshop scene. What a realistic doll she makes: jiggly and floppy in turns.

As her fiancé Franz, Alexander Campbell is a cheeky chappy, whose head is momentarily turned by Coppélia. He drew gasps in his Act III solo, making light of the most difficult jumps, while Gary Avis was a convincing Dr Coppelius, bringing both comedy and pathos to the role.

The company is on top form, with the corps de ballet giving it their all in the group dances — the Act One czardas was even better than the mazurka, and the Waltz of the Hours in the final act was a joy to watch.

Praise, too, to Fumi Kaneko for her sparkling variation, and Melissa Hamilton, who brought a lovely sense of serenity to her Prayer solo .

If you are looking for ideal, festival family fare, the RoH’s Coppélia makes a perfect Chanukah treat.



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