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| Dance |

BalletForte and the Ballet Coppelia AKA Frankenstein Light

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This weekend Fort Bend's BalletForte will perform the darkly comic ballet Coppelia. Leo Delibe's music sets the stage for the tale of a vaguely ominous inventor who crafts a life-size dancing doll so realistic that a local village boy falls in love with her. The ballet is often seen as the lighter side of the Frankenstein story, meaning that instead of bloody murder and the wrath of God towards man for attempting to usurp his creator we get something between a comedy of errors and Cinemax movie about pleasure bots.

Don't mind the hyperbole, however. It's totally kid friendly with the oft-omitted wedding dance in the third act sure to live up to BalletForte's reputation of giving their stellar dance troupe room to show off their moves.

"In BalletForte's rotation of ballets we've recently presented Swan Lake, a tragedy where Odette falls to her death," said founder Michael Banigan. "And, like many of the ballets in our repertory, the principle dancer meets their demise. Giselle dies of a broken heart. Juliet impales herself with a dagger.

"Coppelia is a light hearted comedy that would be a nice change for our audiences. Coppelia presents the performer with a different challenge: comedic acting. This, in itself, can be rewarding because acknowledgment of one's success is immediate...the giggles from the audience or the deafening silence of misapprehension."

Art Attack recalls BalletForte's penchant for interjecting comedic moments in its production of the Nutcracker. In the performance we saw The Rat King, portrayed by Jeiron Wong, working out with weights in the pauses between fencing with the Nutcracker.

BalletForte has continued to grow and expand in its mission to provide both an outlet for amateur dancers and a training ground to launch the careers of professionals. The company often makes guest appearances in other regions, and Banigan's work as a choreographer is often sought by other production companies. Unfortunately, during the production of Coppelia they've suffered from a traditional problem in the ballet community.

"Male dancers are difficult to find, so we've begged and pleaded with brothers, boyfriends, and guys literally off the sidewalk to join the production," said Banigan. "I must say, however, that they've committed themselves wholeheartedly to the production. They've rehearsed as hard as the ballerinas. I'm proud of them."

Coppelia concludes BalletForte's season. Audiences can look forward to a production of Peter Pan using the music from the Walt Disney film to open their 2011 - 2012 season.

"Our audiences need an escape from our mundane day to day schedule," said Banigan. 'Peter Pan brings us back to when your dreams were big and the world was yours to conquer. And, as a performer, who wouldn't want to fly onstage?"

Performances of Coppelia will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday April 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday April 10 at The Stafford Centre,10505 Cash Road, Stafford. For tickets call 281-799-7554.

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