The New Paltz Ballet Theatre, which brings its annual production of Coppelia featuring principal dancers from the New York City Ballet to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie this Sunday afternoon, March 25, is a strong example of the pride that culture can breed on a regional basis. Most know the company, founded by Lisa Chalmers-Naumann and Peter Naumann in 1996, for its annual performances of The Nutcracker: a special treat each holiday season. Some still recall its work in the grand collaborative version of Carmina Burana at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center eight years ago.
Coppelia, a late-19th-century comic ballet based on a pair of macabre stories about a Sandman and a Doll, set to stories by E. T. A. Hoffman and a joyfully sentimental score by Leo Delibes, has been a crowd-pleaser since its debut, to choreography by the legendary Arthur St. Leon, just before the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. Like The Nutcracker, there’s a magical, slightly evil inventor sort, dream sequences and even a Red Shoes/Black Swanlike dance unto death (or in this case, a doll’s breakage). As with so much from the period, there’s also a sense of lost empires and shifting traditions hidden in the plot – which does just enough more than serve as a setting for great solo and chorus dance numbers to render it fascinating to kids as well as adults and teenage ballet aficionados.
Coppelia was rechoreographed, and given a whole new lease on life, by the great New York City Ballet master George Balanchine 100 years after its premiere. For this Sunday’s performance, Megan Fairchild and Andrew Veyette from the New York City Ballet will be joining the New Paltz ballet students.
The performance will take place at 3 p.m. on March 25. For further info call the Bardavon at (845) 473-2072 or the New Paltz School of Ballet at (845) 255-0044. You can also visit www.npsballet.com.