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Music And Dance Reviews : 'Coppelia'

April 01, 1985|LEWIS SEGAL | Times Dance Writer

The Long Beach Ballet "Coppelia" was a modest, agreeable "me-too" production: It courted respectability by trying to look just like everyone else's.

Sometimes David Wilcox's choreography grew overly Russian in style, Saturday night in the Terrace Theater. Sometimes, too, the storytelling purpose of the dances became lost, as if Wilcox had filled in incomplete recollections of the ballet with generalized new material. But it differed from versions you'd see in Houston, Lima (Peru) or Shrine Auditorium (10 days ago) mainly in its generous allotment of last-act variations .

Accompanied by canned Delibes, it had spirited, disciplined ensemble dancing in its favor Saturday. The leads, though, proved problematic. Fleet, tiny Jonette Swider danced efficiently as Swanilda, but remained expressively vacant or even glum everywhere except in the doll-impersonation scene.

If Swider seemed human only when playing a doll, Ed Coyoli made Dr. Coppelius a doddering puppet throughout; he executed mime business capably, but shouldn't character be more than just a collage of mannerisms?

As a warm, brainless Franz, Christopher Tabor danced roughly in the first act, but delivered fine beats and turning leaps in the last.

The sets (by Wilcox and Charles Davis) provided an atmospheric and even opulent workroom--but a flat and semi-improvised town square. Except for oddly martial wedding outfits, Susan Burch's costumes were apt and attractive.

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