It’s a season for anniversaries in Charleston.
The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 80th season. Charleston Light Opera Guild is celebrating 70 years. And Kim Pauley is celebrating 30 years as the Charleston Ballet’s Artistic Director.
To mark her anniversary, Charleston Ballet will present “Coppelia” at the Charleston Coliseum Little Theater this Friday and Saturday.
“It’s kind of one of my favorites,” Pauley said.
“Coppelia,” or “The Girl with the Enamel Eyes,” is one of two ballets Pauley chose for the company to do this year.
“The other is ‘Giselle,’ which is on the other end of the dramatic spectrum,” Pauley said. “Coppelia is a really light comedic story. [Promotions manager] Johanna [Miesner] calls it the ‘rom-com ballet.’”
“Coppelia” is based on two short stories by author E.T.A. Hoffman — best known for “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the basis for the ballet, “The Nutcracker” — and it revolves around Franz and Swanilda, a young couple who become entangled with the inventor, Dr. Coppelia.
Franz becomes infatuated with a lifelike windup doll created by the scientist, making Swanilda jealous.
Pauley said “Coppelia” was innovative for 1870, and that it was one of the first ballets to incorporate certain kinds of folk dances.
“They used the Polish Mazurka and the Hungarian Csardas,” she said. “After, you see those kinds of folk dances in other traditional ballets like ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ They always put them in the second or third acts, these ballets from other countries.”
Charleston Ballet has a long history in performing “Coppelia,” Pauley said, but added that it hadn’t been seen in more than a dozen years.
“I did one version many years ago with Mr. [Andre] Van Damme, [founder of Charleston Ballet],” the director said. “That was maybe back in the 1980s. When I became director, it was one of the first full-length ballets we did.”
Charleston Ballet performed it in the mid-1990s, in 2002 and then presented the second act of the ballet in 2006 for the 50th anniversary of the company.
“None of the girls in the company now have ever done this,” Pauley said.
“Coppelia” is an old favorite, but the ballet director said it’s a good introduction to ballet for children or adults curious about the art form, but afraid they might not be able to follow along.
“The music is so descriptive of the action that it makes it easier to follow,” Pauley said. “And it’s just a wonderful score.”