MATT PERFORMS COPPELIA FOR
IT is surprising 30-year-old WA Ballet principal dancer Matt Lehmann has reached this point in his career without performing in a production of Coppelia.
Though he has danced in more seasons of The Nutcracker than he can count while spending five years in Canada with Alberta Ballet.
He bookended those years at WA Ballet with the 2005 season of
Dangerous Liaisons, returning to the company in 2010 for its program diversity.
“Every company has a certain repertoire or style of dance they do,” Lehmann said.
“And for me, because dance is such a short career, I always want to be pushing myself and doing different things.”
Lehmann certainly has a challenge in the Greg Horsman choreographed Coppelia, where he alternates roles of Franz and Dr Coppelius in the ballet about two sweethearts, Franz and Swanilda, who become curious about the young woman at Dr Coppelius’s house.
Horsman’s version has an Australian twist, set in 1878 South Australia in the German settlement of Hahndorf, complete with an onstage game of Aussie Rules.
“I was excited about the season because I thought I’d be dancing Dr Coppelius, which is quite a dramatic role, but it wasn’t until we started learning it that I realised it’s an even deeper dramatic role than originally,” he said.
“Usually Dr Coppelius or Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker are just crazy for being crazy, but this version has a good character development and there’s a reason why he builds his doll.
“And dancing Franz’s solo, it’s almost double the length it usually is. It’s incredibly cardio-intensive.”
Lehmann said he got “game fit” spending time in the gym when not in the rehearsal room, which came with the territory of being a principal dancer since 2013.
Hectic weeks mean weekends are spent sleeping, watching movies or riding his motorbikes.
“It’s an amazing experience being on a bike; I have a Harley and a sports bike, so that’s the best of both worlds,” Lehmann said.
“I know there is that risk to it and just recently a good friend of mine, (Jonathan Ollivier) who I danced with in Canada, died in a motorcycle accident in the UK.
“He was a principal dancer with Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man, it was closing night and he got hit by a car before the performance.
“It took me a few days to get my head around it, so I don’t take anything for granted.
“Along the coast from City Beach to Hillarys is great. It’s a slow drive and the scenery is amazing.”
Matt Lehmann and Meg Parry as characters Franz and Swanilda in WA Ballet's