In a rehearsal before their Lincoln Center performance of Coppélia last May, Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin ran through some of the partnering in a studio several levels below the Metropolitan Opera stage where they would perform. In Frederic Franklin's charming production for American Ballet Theatre, Swanilda, danced by Lane, and Franz, by Simkin, must balance raucous comedy with sublime classicism. Although considered the perfect soubrette role, Swanilda presents serious technical challenges. The dancer must possess a chameleon-like ability to transform from a spunky village beauty to a robotic doll to a loving bride. And Franz is much more than a frat boy jokester; he becomes a devoted husband in the pristine wedding pas de deux at the end of the ballet.
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