Courtesy Cleveland Ballet
When Gladisa Guadalupe began Cleveland Ballet in 2014, she wanted to put Cleveland back on the map as a destination for dance in the U.S. What she didn’t expect was that by 2019, Cleveland Ballet would also be recognized as a destination for ballet internationally.
Cleveland Ballet’s quick growth is well represented by its previous and upcoming productions of “Coppélia,” which was first performed at the end of the company’s inaugural season in 2016 and will once again be performed April 5th and 6th.
“Coppélia” first premiered in 1870 in Paris. It follows Dr. Coppélius, an inventor who creates lifelike dolls, the most captivating of which is Coppélia. This dancing doll catches the eye of Franz, whose newfound infatuation with the lifelike object angers his soon-to-be wife, Swanilda.
When asked if Cleveland Ballet’s 2019 “Coppélia” varied widely from the production three years prior, Guadalupe, Cleveland Ballet’s artistic director, responded with a resounding, “absolutely.”
“While we’re using the same sets, same costumes, same lighting designer, same music, same story—it’s a complete different version,” Guadalupe said.
According to Guadalupe, this difference is largely in part due to the company, which has grown significantly since Cleveland Ballet’s conception. The 2016 “Coppélia” had only 12 dancers. This year’s production has more than quadrupled that number, featuring a company of 49.
The School of Cleveland Ballet is highly involved with this production, allowing many young ballet students the opportunity to perform. There will be a range of experience on stage, ranging from the lesser experienced students to the most experienced Cleveland Ballet Company members.
Guadalupe believes that this show and its themes are suitable for “4-year-olds to 90-year-olds.” She also described the production as very colorful and thinks that its music will be recognized by many audiences.
“Why is our show so different?” Guadalupe asked. “Because we bring it to today’s society. It’s about love and how people interpret love. It is accessible for all ages—there’s something for everybody and that’s the magic of this production.”
One of the constants between the previous and upcoming “Coppélia” is world renowned Spanish choreographer, Ramón Oller, who is acting as both choreographer and as Dr. Coppélius for the show. But according to Guadalupe, even he has changed.
“The production that you will see in terms of choreography is going to be more challenging,” Guadalupe said. “It’s more precise with the music, with the steps and when they dance together in groups.”
Michael Krasnyansky, Cleveland Ballet’s president and CEO, believes this increase in sophisticated choreography is related to the company’s increase in skilled dancers.
“We have very different caliber dancers than we did three years ago,” Krasnyansky said. “We even have dancers from [across] eight different countries, from Japan to Puerto Rico and everywhere in between.”
“We make productions on a limited budget, but we focus on our dancers,” Krasnyansky said. “We try to give the dancers every opportunity to grow.”
“There are people in Europe telling dancers to come to Cleveland,” Guadalupe added.
Krasnyansky noted that Cleveland Ballet’s quick success is also represented by the company having already become a resident of Play House Square, “Coppélia” being one of the shows they are performing in the Ohio Theatre.
For its 2019-20 season, Cleveland Ballet has scheduled 17 shows in Play House Square.
“Not only have we put Cleveland back on the national map for dance, but we are bringing people from around the world to be employed in Cleveland,” Guadalupe said. “We’re rocking it.”
DATES: April 5 and 6
LOCATION: Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave. Cleveland, OH 44115
TICKETS: $25-79, visit playhousesquare.org
or call 216-241-6000.
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