Preview: Birmingham Royal Ballet: Coppélia

Midland-based company tackle Arthur Saint-Léon's classic

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Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet: Coppélia

Heritage runs through Birmingham Royal Ballet like a stick of rock. Known as Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet for many years, before its relocation to the Midlands in 1990, the company has been home to some of Britain’s finest dancers, choreographers and directors.

For Ayrshire-born dancer Laura-Jane Gibson, joining the company was something of a dream come true.

‘I never thought I would be lucky enough to have a job with Birmingham Royal Ballet,’ she says. ‘It feels very special to perform the same roles as older dancers you have looked up to, to be wearing costumes with the names of ex-dancers in them from Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Ballet, and hopefully carrying on their good work.’

Having run the company for almost 20 years until his retirement in 1995, Sir Peter Wright is a key part of BRB’s history. Now almost 90, Wright is still making his presence felt, with his version of Coppélia about to tour the UK.

Originally created in 1870, the ballet is the light-hearted tale of a young man with a wandering eye, and his long-suffering fiancée who pretends to be a doll to trick him.

As Gibson explains, Wright’s input remains as valuable as ever. ‘The whole company absolutely adores Sir Peter Wright,’ she says. ‘He came into rehearsals recently and the atmosphere in the studio was so exciting, because we all want to do our best for him. We cherish those moments, and feel very lucky to have him still be so involved at the age he is now.’

Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Wed 4–Sat 7 Feb.

Birmingham Royal Ballet: Coppelia

Sir Peter Wright’s production of this joyous and witty ballet about a toymaker who creates a beautiful doll in the hope of bringing her to life – with results that spread mayhem throughout his village.

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