Review provided with kind permission by Georgina Daly
From a ship’s cannon on stage (Pineapple Poll) to farmyard frolics (La Fille Mal Gardee), Southern Youth Ballet has continually raised the bar in its productions for local young dancers.
But rarely has the company presented such a well rounded and crisp production as it did with this year’s Coppelia. Youthful enthusiasm was matched perfectly with the precision of the more mature dancers giving a blend of precise and exhilarating entertainment. And all this from a 40-strong company with dancers as young as eight years old.
Among the more mature dancers, it was refreshing to see again Dan Harrison and Eddie Davis who have danced with the company before. Both still in their teens, both of them are showing signs of becoming major dance talents.
Lorena Perez never ceases to amuse as the crotchety toymaker, Dr Coppelius. She is a stalwart of the Company having danced the lead role of Swanhilda herself for SYB some seven years ago.
The story is simplicity itself. Swanhilda is enjoying the harvest festival with her friends and hopes that Franz (Harrison) and Hans (Davies) will join them. But Franz has spotted a beautiful girl (Coppelia) sitting in the windows of the toymaker’s house and longs to meet her. There are a lot of misunderstandings and adventures in the toyshop before Coppelia is revealed to be a doll. The ‘doll’ was danced by nine year old Abbie Beresford-Wong from Brighton.
SYB broke with tradition in casting a professional dancer – guest dancer Yuriko Evans – in the role of Swanhilda and we were rewarded with a display of charm, technique, mime and ballet dancing that was delightful to watch.
Once again Liz Buckland and her team triumphed on stage as did the musicians in the pit with the orchestra conducted by Kenneth Roberts, leader Lisa Wigmore. And once again Southern Youth Ballet proved it is a ‘must see’ part of the winter entertainment calendar.