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Waltz of the Dolls

Girls flitted on to the stage like butterflies,looking dainty in their fuchsia and green costumes and moved gracefully,despite the complete absence of any music.

Written by Anushree Majumdar |
May 12, 2010 2:40:02 am

Girls flitted on to the stage like butterflies,looking dainty in their fuchsia and green costumes and moved gracefully,despite the complete absence of any music. “Imagine the music,” says Sameer Mehta,as he watched the dancers,their arms raised in the high fifth position. We’re in the midst of the last rehearsal for Coppelia ,the sentimental comic French ballet that premiered in 1870 in Paris,that will be performed by the students of the National Ballet Academy Trust of India (NBATI) this afternoon. If there is any nervousness,not a muscle shows it.

“This is arguably the first time Coppelia has been performed in India,” says Mehta,Vice-President,NBATI. “The school has two productions every year. Last May,we had The Nutcracker and later this year,we will probably produce The Swan Lake (both by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky),” he says. Although the NBATI was founded in 2002,the going has not been easy in a salsa-belly dance crazy city. “But each year we have more students. In 2002,we began with 35 and today we have 140,” says Mehta. This evening’s production will feature all 140 students,ranging from ages three to 18 years. There are only 3 boys training at the Academy and Mehta hopes to change that with more word-of-mouth publicity. The students are mostly children of expats and students of international embassy schools in the capital.

For Coppelia,the instructors at NBATI have used the original ballet libretto by Arthur Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter and original score by Léo Delibes. “The costumes,though,have been designed from scratch by us,” says Mehta with a grin. “We sat with tailors in Chandni Chowk and showed them how to stitch the fabric. We’re not using the classical tutu,ours is rather inspired by Eastern European designs,” adds Mehta. The bodice is embellished with stones and silver patterns and the skirt slants down towards the ankle. But in motion,all you can see is perfect symmetry and for the students at the NBATI and Mehta,it is love’s labour won.

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