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Oregon Ballet Theatre came into its own as a classical troupe this fall when it opened its 1994--95 season with a riveting company premiere of Coppelia.

Tracy Julias, who was out with an injury for much of last season, made a comeback as the Swanilda whom ballet lovers everywhere yearn to see: technically fleet and precise, her phrasing musical, her acting convincing.

The Portland Civic Auditorium audience, surprisingly multigenerational for a school night, was clearly gripped by the allegra ballerina's virtuoso technique. She can reverse the direction of her pirouettes as smoothly as a Mercedes and did just that in the first act. Her Spanish and Scottish variations in the second act looked breezy and effortless, and her interaction with Dr. Coppelius, portrayed as a pathetic character instead of the usual buffoon by the excellent Fabrice Lemire, was deft and subtle.

Julias learned this fine technique at the Carlisle Project School in her native Pennsylvania, as well as at the Joffrey Ballet School. OBT artistic director James Canfield spotted her at Nashville Ballet two years ago; Julias joined the company in the fall of 1993.

Alexandrous Ballard, who also joined OBT in 1993, seems to have been born to dance the thick-witted, good-natured Franz. Small in stature, but with a very big jump, Ballard was an impudent partner and fiery soloist, especially in the third act.

The third act divertissements were also very well danced, especially by Stephanie Crank, an adagio dancer whose "Prayer" solo was truly spiritual.

The ensemble dancing, particularly in the first-act mazurka, was some-what static because of Dulce Anaya's staging, Russian style, but the children from the school in the third act "Waltz of the Hours" looked professional and charming.

With this Coppelia, OBT proves that a company that has made its mark with hip contemporary ballet can take on just about anything in the repertoire that is appropriate for a troupe with only two dozen performers. Tracy Julias would be a lovely Giselle or Sylphide, Stephanie Crank an impressive Myrtha.
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Title Annotation:Portland Civic Auditorium, Portland, Oregon
Author:West, Martha Ullman
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Previous Article:Mal Pelo.
Next Article:Swan Lake.

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