I can’t seem to make coherent statements about Coppélia except that it was a wonderful, terrifying, and amazing experience that I already miss. I never expected this time last year to think of myself as an emotional dancer, but somehow the story and the emotion of the character became the top priority in the course of these performances. Could this be artistic maturation I’m experiencing? I can only hope…
In lieu of a complete statement or story, here are some moments from Coppélia:
- Those times when you just nail the balances when they matter, and they take you by surprise? Yeah, I had a few of those. : ) It’s a great feeling, like you’re totally in control of yourself and the audience and the conductor is kind enough to draw out the phrase until you have finished your arabesque… Victory!
- Those times when your headpiece, which has never come loose before, falls out during the Spanish variation during Act II. Oh well.
- Those times when Franz tries to pluck the trick flower from your bouquet but manages to get only the head of the flower, leaving the stem still in your hands? That’s when you switch the mime from “breaking” to “plucking.” Twice.
- Those times when your friend, when doing her variation about disliking her dress, actually rips her skirt and has a dangling piece for much of Act I.
- Those time when you know you have to go to bed but you can only lie there thinking of the music and of things you did and will do differently perhaps next time because you are still too excited to sleep even though the show ended two hours ago.
Now Sigma Rho Delta is choreographing a seven minute Coppélia to show at the MLK Center. I did Act II in two minutes. Impressive, huh?
Before the last show...
Oh my goodness, this past weekend’s performances of Coppélia were completely overwhelming — in the best of ways. Putting the experience into words is so difficult. Of course things didn’t go perfectly. The last night, when I finally got all the fouetté turns at the end of the ballet, I almost ate it on the pull in. It’s never perfect.
But while I am not satisfied with the performances (if I were satisfied, I don’t think I would be trying to produce art), I am overjoyed and overwhelmed and (though sad it is over) still riding on an incredible high. It might not be perfect, but oh my goodness, it’s so much fun.
Seniors on the ladder!
Class on Monday was painful for sure! When the adrenaline from performing was gone, the fatigue/soreness it masked definitely remained. The life of a dancer… We are busy preparing for dance finals. Academic classes are winding down too in a flurry of projects and tests and papers. This is the last final season I will have at Butler.
Somehow everything seems less real for a few days after we leave the theater. I’m getting ready for finals, of course, but part of me is still on that stage, smiling or crying or clenching my fists or falling in love or prancing around, full of mischief. Dancing Swanhilda was a tremendous blessing, and I know I will miss it so much. The only remedy? On to the next performance!
I know I’m dancing in the Spotlight gala at Clowes and then in Carbondale for the Southern Illinois Music Festival… and then who knows what adventures wait for me in Tulsa? It’s scary and exciting, and I feel much more prepared to meet that challenge after the whirlwind that was Coppélia.
You see, these are the final preparations… because I’m a senior… preparing for finals… Oh dear.
I promise I’ll get to Coppélia – performing was such an amazing experience, I’m having the hardest time putting it into words. This week is still pretty busy, though. What happens the week after Coppélia?
- Field trip to Congregation Beth-El Zedeck for my Midrash English class.
- TURN IN my senior English essay. It’s not as good as I want it to be, but I’m done. Done. Done.
- Plan for our last senior ballet technique final. The seniors always include some sort of skit or prank or something for their last ballet final. Last year, the senior class did a basketball-themed entrance and even had some of the basketball team show up in tutus! The year before was Olympic-themed with students each on one of the professor’s teams (Team Cholewa = Poland, since Professor Cholewa is from Poland). This year… you’ll have to wait and see, since it’s top secret.
- Final projects, etc. I don’t like to think about those.
This week continues the whirlwind of my final month at Butler!
Things that happened:
Top 101 Students Banquet: We got a Butler Catholic Community picture with most of the BCC who were in attendance!
The Undergraduate Research Conference is coming! I have to prepare for two presentations, one on my BSI project, one on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Of course, all this happens on the opening night of Coppélia.
Sigma Rho Initiation… We welcomed many, many new members into the dance service fraternity. And there are only five of us seniors left — even fewer than at the beginning of the year!
Dramatic poses in front of the fountain we are restoring as our class gift.
Right now, production week is happening, and I’m most likely in the theater. (This is most definitely a scheduled post.) As always, I have the very strong opinion that you should see Coppélia!
Now you have to buy tickets for Coppélia — it’s an Indianapolis Groupon deal, so you get a discount and everything! My roommate showed me the link. You get two tickets for $32, which is even less than I would pay as a student for two tickets with my student rate! At the time of this post, there are about thirteen hours left for the deal. Yes, I am shamelessly advertising now.
In any case, I’m glad to see Butler Ballet on big websites like Groupon. The shows are always more exciting when there is a sizable audience. After all, ballet is a performing art. The audience plays an integral role in what I see as the magic of the stage. Now I’m getting a bit sappy — probably because I’m writing this rather quickly because production week is crazy — please do not judge me too harshly.
The synopsis the Groupon website has for Coppélia is fairly amusing. I suppose this is a comic ballet, so it is only fitting that this version of the libretto is comedic as well.
Why is Butler University kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West? Well, it completely fell apart when rained last Saturday. There was a pretty big lightning storm Saturday morning/afternoon, so they tell me.
I only knew it was storming vaguely, since we were in the midst of Studio Dress for Coppélia. There is a part toward the end of Act I when Dr. Coppélius chases the drunk village boys around with his cane. Just as he swung at the first lout came a flash of lightning — CRACK! Perfect timing. I heard the rain before we started Act II as well, but I was rather tunnel-visioned for the entire ballet, so I didn’t realize what a storm we were having.
Then my partner and I stayed afterwards to work out some costuming/wedding pas kinks while the building slowly emptied. When I finally took all my costumes back down to the basement, I was surprised to find the hallways dark (basement = no windows), the third of the lights that were on flickering menacingly. Someone was playing the piano in one of the dance studios, an odd waltz, so the atmosphere was particularly eerie. I felt like I was in Phantom of the Opera or something. Needless to say, I was also very glad when the student who plays Franz came down the stairs a few seconds later. Company is always good when you’re walking into what could very easily be an episode of Doctor Who.
You don't want to run into these in a half-lit basement...
Outside was drizzly, but bright. My cell phone finally picked up enough of a signal to dump on me about three BU alerts about the storm. Jordan Hall was on fire, apparently, due to a lightning strike? My boyfriend later told me he and his labmates didn’t realize the fire alarms were going off for a while. Much of campus lost power, the cable was out for a while in AV and the internet even longer. The phones went out, and we got another alert telling us BU police officers were stationed at the front desks of the residence halls if they should be needed.
My goodness. Butler doesn’t fare too well in the stormy weather. It’s meeelting…
Studio Dress was this Saturday –the first time we’ve run Coppélia in order, in costumes. I was anxious for the event, since I had been rehearsing the hardest part — Act III, with the wedding pas — at the beginning of the rehearsal periods, then following with Act I then Act II in descending order of stress. Yesterday we went straight through, with everyone in place, with costumes.
Before we started, I just listened to the overture with my eyes closed, soaking the fact that, yes, this is happening. I know I was still a little nervous because I was rushing the music in the beginning, but overall? Actual fun. I realize this is all I’ve been talking about for the last few weeks, but this is such a revelation for me, the nervous ninny.
There were a few bumps along the way… I messed up the sequence of some of the choreography in Act II; I couldn’t get the Scottish hat to stay on before the Scottish variation; some of the wedding pas was bumpy — probably because this was literally the first time either of us had done it in costume, and my tutu had more friction than usual and his sleeves kept getting in my face. But these are kinds of things that make great stories, n’est-ce pas?
Production Week starts tomorrow. Tech rehearsals, spacing, orchestra rehearsals, dress rehearsals, ACH the real performances!! I’m going to be so sad when it’s all over, but for now I’m totally, completely enjoying the ride.
Giuseppina Bozzacchi as the first Swanhilde in 1870.
Tomorrow is Studio Dress for Coppélia! I’ve written numerous posts on Studio Dress — you can read them if you want. Also, I wouldn’t really argue if you wanted to buy tickets for Coppélia.
I’m so excited. I spent a good part of this semester telling myself not to be nervous, reminding myself to enjoy my final months at Butler. The spring of my sophomore year, I was one of the Little Swans in the Butler Ballet’s Swan Lake. I was nervous all the time. I couldn’t eat without feeling sick to my stomach, and I had nightmares that one of the dance professors locked me in the smallest ballet studio in the basement and wouldn’t let me out because he wanted me to practice.
Even last year I was nervous for Sleeping Beauty far in advance of the actual shows because I found out I was the last minute understudy for Aurora and learned the whole ballet in about three days. I had a dream that I had to go in because my friend who actually dancing the role decided she didn’t want to do and it and was laughing at me from the wings while I tried to do the grand pas, only I decided to change the choreography at the last minute and didn’t tell my partner… This dream = a nightmare.
This year, I’ve thrown myself in the fun of the role. As I’ve said before, Swanhilda is a real girl, not some remote princess or swan maiden, which makes her more approachable. When I leave the stage angry, I play over dialogue in my head so if I have to enter slightly more cheerful, I know how I got there; if I am to be upset, I cover my face in my hands sometimes so the other dancers don’t see what weird faces I’m sure I’m making. Keeping track of the emotional story gives the dancing purpose and makes it fun.
I did have one dream where the dance faculty told everyone that due to copyright issues, we would be performing Dracula instead of Coppélia, and I had three weeks to learn everything. The subconscious is an amazing thing…
Coppélia is coming, Coppélia is coming! I’m so excited. I’m also fairly busy — and I cannot think of anything to write in a blog post that wouldn’t take longer than the time I have allotted. Therefore I shall share instead the pictures I have readily on hand, thanks to my snazzy new phone.
Tasty things I have eaten (today):
This is Easter bread my boyfriend made. It was very intense (lots of kneading and yeast-blossoming and so on) and very tasty. Easter was a wonderful day, by the way! I went to the Butler Catholic Community Mass on campus, which was followed by a brunch/lunch. The asparagus was so good! After that, it was back to the apartment for a quick nap before I headed out to go with my boyfriend to the dinner his jazz studies professor was hosting. It was day filled with socializing over good food, though I still have to say I missed being at my grandparents’ house with the rest of my family!
Homemade tortilla pizza. ‘Nuff said.
A girl gave me a voucher for a free tall drink at the campus Starbucks… so I enjoyed a mocha before my pas class!
I ate other, healthier things as well, promise! They just weren’t as tasty.
And thus ends this rather uninformative blog post. My apologies.
When I learned I would dance the role of Swanhilda in the Butler Ballet’s upcoming production of Coppélia, one of the first things I did (after freaking out and then getting my hands to stop shaking) was to look up the meaning of Swanhilda’s name.
Alternate spellings are “Swanilda” or “Swanhilde,” but the cast list released to us had “Swanhilda,” so Swanhilda I am! Battle Swan.
There’s a balancing act here. I think Swanhilda can easily slip into all battle and no swan: She is sassy and wholly forthcoming, wrecking havoc in Dr. Coppélius’ toyshop, destroying his dream of a daughter-doll come to life.
I have to remember the small moments. I am shy but give in gratefully when Franz offers me a stalk of wheat; I look at Dr. Coppélius after I break the real Coppélia doll, accepting responsibility for my action, though maintaining its necessity with a look toward my confused fiancé; I bubble over with excitement upon encountering 1. dance 2. my friends 3. flowers.
Swanhilda likes to cause mischief, but I hope the impulse comes from frustration with Franz’ infatuation with Coppélia and a gleeful, prankster nature rather than from real hatred. I have no idea whether I’m succeeding in avoiding the overtly malicious. Swanhilda is a touch supercilious, perhaps, but only because she is young and in love and brimming over the edges with life.
Right, I sincerely hope this is an accurate assessment of Swanhilda’s character. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wanted to contest the validity of the above, I am nonetheless having the time of my life.
Okay, now buy your tickets for Coppélia.