Rhode Island company presents ‘Coppélia’

Herci Marsden's CoppéliaOn December 2 and 3, the State Ballet of Rhode Island (SBRI) will open its 57th Season with a Rhode Island tradition, Herci Marsden’s Coppélia. This classic comedic story ballet, which was originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon, has entertained audiences for more than 145 years. Set to the original 1870 music by Leo Delibes, Coppélia’s mysterious toymaker and his life-size dancing dolls will captivate the entire family.


SBRI Artistic Director Herci Marsden told Dance Informa, “Everyone loves to laugh and Coppélia, a romantic comedy, is a favorite of mine because of this. It has spunk and Slavic influence; a witty and enchanting ballet.”


Marsden, now almost 79 years old, was born in Croatia, which is where she began dancing at age 5. Immigrating to the U.S. in 1958, she soon co-founded the Brae Crest School of Ballet. She made her official American debut in 1960 with SBRI. A couple of her career highlights include: being a lead dancer at the New York World’s Fair and Eastern States Exposition; performing the leading role in Destiny at the first Performing Arts Festival with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra in 1967; dancing in FaustAida and Carmen with the Providence Opera Theater; and in 1970, leading the 57-member SBRI on tour to Croatia by invitation of the Yugoslavian government.


Dancewear icon Capezio awarded her Brae Crest School $5,000 in scholarship money as the first recipient of its Studio Connect Award.


On Coppélia she recalled, “In 1962, I danced the first Coppélia in Rhode Island. And then in 1975 I decided to make it the SBRI holiday ballet, a kind of Nutcracker alternative.”


For more information on Rhode Island’s longest standing civic regional ballet company, head to www.stateballet.com. A few other special events to note are the “Project Ballet in Education” performance on Friday, December 2 at 10 am  (which is open to schools, senior centers and other municipal organizations) as well as Tea Time in the Toy Shop for kids at 12 pm before the 1:30 pm Saturday matinee.


Photo: State Ballet of Rhode Island in Act 1 of Coppélia. Photo by Lori Broess.