Awakening a National Consciousness: Csardas and the Dolls of Coppelia

Jan 08, 2010

Military recruiters might learn a thing or two from the Northrop's upcoming production of the Moscow Festival Ballet's Coppelia. "Why?" you may ask. Well, it will feature the csardas, the 18th century Hungarian dance once used in recruiting efforts by the Hungarian army. Featuring a variation in tempo with a slow start and hints of 2/4 and 4/4 time, the csardas rhythmically honors its' roots of seeking to awaken a national consciousness with energy and vibrancy. During the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, dance events were often used to recruit new soldiers--beginning with the verbunkos and followed by the csardas (with origins of Hungarian term for tavern). For more information on the richness of Hungarian dance, check out:

http://www.worldartswest.org/main/discipline.asp?i=60

Among the first to feature national folk dance elements in works of classical ballet, choreographer Arthur Saint-Leon set a precedent that would pave the way for the powerhouses of Swan Lake and Raymonda. The choreography we will see on stage next week dates back to 1870, with the spirit infusion of folk dances extending even further into European history. Amidst mazurkas boleros, and csardas', the tale of Hoffman's macabre Dr. Coppelius and the doll-centered love triangle will unfold--a subtle collision of cultures, movement, and political revolution.

As the possibilities that accompany a New Year marinate and begin to emerge through the month of January, Coppelia seems a fitting celebration--the awakening of and longing to connect with dormant parts of ourselves along with the animation of spirits slowed by cold, yet warmed with love and the joys of motion.

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