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Rita Kohn
Performance Reviews
Special Focus
Scottish Rite Cathedral Theater
United States
Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis School of Ballet with guest artists - Coppélia

by Rita Kohn
May 22, 2011
Scottish Rite Cathedral Theater
650 N Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
4 stars
Music by Leo Delibes
May 21-22

This review was originally published in NUVO Newsweekly, Indianapolis, IN.

Rita Kohn is a member of the Board of the Dance Critics Association.
Coppélia, the initiator of action, in reality is a lifeless doll. Coppélia the ballet, on the other hand, is a great comic ballet brought realistically to life by the delightfully animated dancers performing in the Indianapolis School of Ballet production. Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Sandman," Coppélia (1870) predates The Nutcracker (1890) by 20 years with Tchaikovsky crediting Leo Delibes as his inspiration little knowing his use of another Hoffmann story would become an American Christmas holiday craze.

Set in a charmingly depicted Austro-Hungarian village in Galicia, Coppélia equally deserves mass audience attention. At the center are three competing plot lines: Dr. Coppélius' desire to "animate" his mechanical doll, Swanhilda's desire to marry her beloved Franz, Franz's desire to capture the attention of the alluring Coppélia (while still desiring the attention of Swanhilda). It's Keystone Cops craziness carried out with meticulous mime and technical skills for choreography based not only on tricky ballet variations but also on folkloric dances, including the mazurka, czardas, bolero and jig — and on keeping perfectly still in a not so comfortable pose for a very long time.

The entire cast, from "petite villagers" to seasoned professionals, works together to bring the story to a happy ending. Victoria Lyras' choreography perfectly molds itself into Delibes' music, enhanced by Loukia Finale's exquisite costumes and James Leitner's lighting. It's in executing the minute details and nuances of body language, and their facial expressions and relationships to each other along with technical clarity that the dancers make this community celebration of youthful love sparkle. Bravo. Space doesn't allow naming all, but mention must be made of the growing number of young boy dancers. Nice.

Guest Artists
Kristin Young, Swanilda
Kristin Young, a native of Noblesville, Indiana recently performed with the Springfield Ballet as Principal Guest Artist in their production of The Nutcracker. From 2003 to 2005 Kristin danced Corps de Ballet roles with Indianapolis's former professional company Ballet Internationale in The Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, Creation of the World, and on their tour of Taiwan. From 2005 to 2007 Kristin performed with Gregory Hancock Dance Theater in children's and Company roles in productions including The Nutcracker, Dracula, Orient Express, Joan of Arc, Lagaan, Salome. Kristin received her ballet training at the Academy of Ballet Internationale, the Indianapolis School of Ballet (ISB) and The University of Oklahoma where she earned a B.F.A in 2010. At ISB, Kristin performed Swanilda in Coppelia, the Principal role from Raymonda, Dew Drop Fairy and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Big Swan in Swan Lake and Balanchine's Tarantella. She attended summer intensive training programs at Boston Ballet, Harid Conservatory, School of American Ballet and the Kirov Academy. At the University of Oklahoma she performed in OU's Nutcracker, Rhapsody in Blue, Les Patineurs, The Firebird, Elegie and Les Biches. Kristin danced Principal roles in Valse Fantaisie and Balanchine's Divertimento No. 15 as well as during a tour of China with the OU Ballet. She also performed Aurora and the Temperament Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. Kristin received the Ovation Award from The University of Oklahoma's School of Dance, honoring her work as Best Ballet Performer. She will be joining the Nashville Ballet in Tennessee in June.

Chris Lingner, Franz
Chris Lingner began dancing in a small studio in Indianapolis at the age of five. After high school, Chris joined the 2008-2009 national tour of "Movin Out" [Eddie, James], and then joined the original cast of "Hairspray" [Brad]. Chris was a featured aerialist in the 2009 revue show, "Come Fly With Me," on Royal Carribbean International's Oasis of the Seas. In June 2010, Chris performed with Las Vegas star, Clint Holmes in his new musical "My Own Song" at Flat Rock Playhouse: The State Theatre of North Carolina. Locally, Chris has been a featured guest artist with Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and the Indianapolis School of Ballet (ISB). His repertoire with ISB includes, Balanchine's "Tarantella," Von Rothbart in "Swan Lake," and Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Chris is now studying ballet at the prestigious Indiana University's Jacob's School of Music.

Paul Vitali , Dr. Coppelius
Paul Vitali began his dance career at Pennsylvania Ballet, where he rose to perform principal roles during his tenure with the prestigious Balanchine based company.  He then moved to New York City where he was a principal dancer in Eliot Feld's company, Feld Ballets/NY.  Throughout his career Paul garnered national and international attention in a variety of Balanchine, classical and avant-garde roles.  He credits much of his inspiration to great teachers, including Lupe Serrano, Benjamin Harkarvy, Royes Fernandez and Maggie Black. Paul has taught ballet at the Feld company and its associated New Ballet School, the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, Miami City Ballet School and Florida International University.

Vincent Brewer, War and Discord Duet
Vincent Brewer originally from Great Barrington, MA, has just graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet with an Outside Field in Religious Studies and a minor in French. He attended Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Chautauqua Institute summer programs on full scholarship. Roles at IU include Melancholic in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, the male principal in Balanchine's Valse Fantasie, and Cavalier, Snow Prince, and Trepak in Michael Vernon's Nutcracker. He received an award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Brewer has danced with the Eglevsky Ballet under the direction of Marina Eglevsky, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and will be joining Festival Ballet in Providence, RI in September.

Lucas Thompson, Villager
Lucas Thompson recently earned his Master's of Music in Voice from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He has appeared in IU Opera Theatre's productions of La Bohème, Rigoletto, LaTraviata, Le Nozze di Figaro, Roméo et Juliette, and most recently Lucia di Lammermoor. With the IU Theater Department, he was featured as Larry in A Chorus Line and Mr. McQueen in Urinetown the Musical.  He was a three-year member of the Singing Hoosiers, and was among the 48 members selected to sing at one of President Obama's inaugural balls in Washington, DC. In addition to his musical accomplishments, Thompson is also a classically trained ballet dancer of 20 years and a continuing guest artist with Lafayette Ballet Company. In 2009, he danced in Les Noces for IU Ballet Theater's tribute to Sergei Diaghilev. His extensive dance training has landed him full scholarships to summer intensive programs with Ballet Austin, American Ballet Theater NYC, and Chautauqua Institution. Lucas is from West Lafayette, IN. 

James Leitner, Lighting Designer and Production Manager
Barrymore Award-winning designer, James Leitner has worked professionally in dance since 1977. During this time, he has worked with Pennsylvania Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Miami City Ballet, The University of Wisconsin Dance Department, DanceWorks, Waves Jazz Dance, and the Vail International Dance Festival. He has also worked with various and numerous opera and theater organizations, as well as repeat engagements with the Indianapolis School of Ballet.
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