Senior Camille Locke and freshman Jackson Margolis will perform a tale of, as Margolis said, “romance, humor and soul-sucking dolls” – “Coppelia” – on Saturday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Hiram Johnson High School.
Locke plays the lead female role, the “bratty, mischievous and self-centered” Swanhilda, and Margolis plays a peasant in the four-boy ensemble.
According to Locke, “Coppelia” will be the Sacramento Valley Ballet School’s first time doing a full-length ballet, as usually the school’s performances are short excerpts from ballets with variations (dance solos) to fit each type of student.
Locke said she and Margolis have been rehearsing “Coppelia” for four hours every Saturday afternoon since September.
In addition, Locke had sporadic evening weekday rehearsals to work out any kinks or timing errors.
Locke, who has studied at the Sacramento Ballet School for four-and-a-half years, said that her part in the ballet takes her out of her comfort zone.
“‘Coppelia’ is hard because I normally wouldn’t be the peasant dancer,” Locke said. “Swanhilda is a peasant. Peasants dance differently— hands on the hips, more energetic, (a) different way of standing.”
Locke, who has traditionally played regal parts like the Lilac Fairy Queen in “Sleeping Beauty,” said she finds transitioning to a peasant role challenging because she is used to a particular way of carrying herself on stage.
“If you’re regal, you have your chest out and your chin up, but if you’re a peasant you’re more at eye level,” Locke said.
Nevertheless, she said she has thoroughly enjoyed crafting her character.
“Coppelia” is a comedic ballet, so characters must do mimery in addition to dance, Locke said.
“Because of this ballet being really acting-oriented, I’ve discovered more of the artistry aspect of my dancing,” Locke said.
“I think for artistry and characterizing Swanhilda, she’s kind of a brat.”
In “Coppelia,” Margolis explained, sometime in the 19th century Swanhilda is in love with Franz (Mason Tompkins), and the two plan on marrying.
Following tradition, Swanhilda shakes a bundle of wheat in the village square to see if it makes a sound – an affirmation of Swanhilda and Franz’s genuine love (“Wheat Pas de Deux”).
Meanwhile, evil Dr. Coppelius (Bruce King) is trying to engineer a doll to be a real human – Coppelia (Katie Isherwood). He props her against a balcony, and Franz becomes infatuated with her.
Upon seeing Franz, Coppelius comes up with the idea to steal his soul via a magic spell and place it inside the doll.
Coppelius drugs Franz to make him fall asleep, and while he prepares the potion, Swanhilda dresses up in Coppelia’s clothes and pretends to be the doll to trick Coppelius.
After fooling Coppelius, Swanhilda and Franz are reunited, marry and celebrate in one last adagio (slow) dance.
At the end of over two hours of dancing, Locke has to perform what she says is the hardest part of all the dances.
“I have three promenades on (toe) point with the assistants, and then after I finish one completion, I do a ponché, a kind of teeter-totter where your leg goes up and your body goes down,” Locke said.
And it doesn’t end there.
“Then I do another promenade and then a balance and then another promenade and then another ponché,” she said.
“So there’s a lot of time on that one foot because I don’t (ever) come down during that entire time.”
—By Chardonnay Needler