Coppelia

Human Landscape Dance's 2015 version of "Coppelia" addresses gender stereotypes in the original ballet.

In the original ballet Coppelia, a robot slave is fashioned by Dr Coppelius. Franz, a local lad, falls in love with the robot, ditching his fiancee Swanhilde. Swanhilde follows Franz into Dr Coppelius's lair at night, where Franz is drugged and the mad doctor attempts to transfer Franz's life force into the robot. Swanhilde pretends to be Coppelia, distracting Dr Coppelius until Franz awakens. Franz decides he really loves Swanhilde after all, and they go on to wed.

The ballet pretends that all women are basically the same, because Coppelia and Swanhilde are exchanged out of hand by both Franz and Dr Coppelius. To dispute this contention, our version presents Coppelia and Swanhilde, played by Susan Donham and Nicole McClam, who look nothing alike, mimicking each other's movements as if they could not tell the difference: leaning close, turning their heads, placing palms together as if in front of mirrors.

The ballet pretends that women should be passive, like robots. In our version, Dr Coppelius, played by Malcolm Shute, is a man so obsessed by conventional ideals of feminine beauty that he carries dolls wherever he goes. These he at first flings at Franz, played by Alexander Short, to scare him away from Coppelia. She, however, awakens from her conditioning. While Dr Coppelius wraps his arms around her, Coppelia finds his reset button and powers him down.