MATT PER­FORMS COP­PELIA FOR

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

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.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d442676

Matt Lehmann and Meg Parry as char­ac­ters Franz and Swanilda in WA Bal­let's

Cop­pelia.

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