Boston Ballet’s ‘Coppelia’ is full of life, but lacks closure

Mehron Kugler | 5/22/2013, 10:54 a.m.

The art of Balanchine was clearly present with all the costuming, beautiful formations, gentle, stylized poses and colors. According to the playbill, he was also responsible for the addition of “male solos, pas de deux and a [revised] third act.” The ballet ends with entertaining finales by Franz and Swanilda, danced with utter virtuosity.

“Coppelia” is, without a doubt, entertaining: It has both good acting and powerful, fleet-footed soloists, but the emotional expectations left by a lack of a properly fleshed-out ending to the story are not compensated by the sensual aesthetics of the “pure dance” that follows. It is ridiculous to think that a man who emotionally invests in his lifelike creations would be placated by a bag of money given to him by the town mayor for compensation of damages incurred by the kids. In some versions of the story, Swanilda’s mother takes pity on Coppelius and marries him; he subsequently abandons his dolls and therefore is allowed to rejoin society and rediscover his humanity.

The story of “Coppelia” should be developed and completed if it is to significantly engage audiences. Most ballets are colored by small risks. It’s time for bigger risks if it is to stay artistically relevant aside from its historical milestones.

Boston Ballet has proven it is capable of inventing and perpetuating modern ballets rich with symbolism and the avant-garde. The company has sufficient vision to reinvent and complete the world of “Coppelia.” Let the great minds begin to answer questions such as “Why does Dr. Coppelius feel lonely?” and perhaps they can take a page from his spellbook to breathe new spirit into the lifelike body of “Coppelia.”