We went to Cleveland Ballet’s studios last Friday to watch a rehearsal of Coppélia. Léo Delibes’ gorgeous, playful music poured through the studio as the company members danced through the waltz, the mazurka, and the engagement scene. So much excellent dancing! We’ve praised the company’s dancers in earlier articles but we were unprepared for how much the current Coppélia has changed for the better since 2016. Choreographer Ramón Oller has set new, more challenging material on the dancers.
We spoke with Gladisa Guadalupe, the founding artistic director, on the phone.
Cleveland Concert Dance: So, another production of Coppélia. What’s different from Cleveland Ballet’s 2016 production?
Gladisa Guadalupe: Ramón and I both feel that this is a whole different company from the one you saw in our 2016 Coppélia. The dancers are much stronger artistically and technically. I have had time to train them. Daily ballet class is mandatory for all dancers in this company and class is at a minimum an hour and a half to two hours. We have dancers – both women and men – who have been with us for 3 years. Our philosophy is, you have to train your dancers in order for them to represent your company and your repertory well.
Michael (Michael Krasnyansky, President and CEO of Cleveland Ballet) was pointing out some of your dancers and telling us about their accomplishments.
We have dancers from – I believe – 8 countries. To name just a few of them and their accomplishments, Kaela Ku from Japan graduated with high scores from both the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and from the International Ballet High School in Tokyo. Rainer Diaz graduated from Cuba’s Escuela Nacional de Ballet with the highest scores and he was a Gold medalist at the Habana International Competition. Luciano Perotto from Argentina won, among many other awards, a first place in the Grand Prix finals in New York City.
Please tell our readers about Ramón Oller, who choreographed Coppélia and Midsummer Night’s Dream for Cleveland Ballet. Many Clevelanders may not know much about him.
The day of the performance, April 6, 2019, will mark Ramón’s 50th year in this art form. He began dancing professionally when he was 7. When he was about 20 he did his first choreography, Dos Dies i Mig, (Two and a Half Days) and won a big award for it.
As we discussed earlier, dancers and choreographers sometimes have little stories about how or why they started. What did Ramón say? Did you ask him?
I asked him. He said, “I just started putting steps together.”
Hah! As simple as that.
What do you and Ramón have to say about the meaning of this Coppélia? Is there a message or a moral?
Coppélia is known as a comic ballet, but it’s also a tragedy. Doctor Coppelius is lonely so he makes this beautiful mechanical doll. It’s about loneliness, fantasy, and broken hearts. If you want to find a message in Coppélia, it goes something like this. Every broken heart hopes to be mended. And that was one of the reasons I chose Coppélia to be our full length. It is about something everybody experiences. Everybody wants to feel loved, and that’s what Coppélia is all about.
Cleveland Ballet performs Coppélia at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square at 8:00 pm Friday 4/5 and at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm Saturday 4/6. Tickets @ $25 – $79 are available at PlayhouseSquare.org or by phone 216-241-6000.