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FLHS Dancers Take the Lead

From left to right: Gabriella Pecoraro (11), Ashley Anderson (12), Giovanna Milora (12), Allyson Varela-Nava (12), and Siena Zimmerman (10) perform in Coppélia.
Photo courtesy Ashley Anderson

This past November, several students of Fort Lauderdale High School performed in the ballet Coppélia. The show was directed and produced by the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Ballet Theater and performed at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Five FLHS students performed together in Coppélia. Wren Baumeister (12) danced as Swanhilda, her first time in a leading role. Four others danced in the roles of Swanhilda’s friends: Allyson Varela Nava (12)  as the silly friend, Siena Zimmerman (10) as the kind friend, Alexandra Stone (11)  as the shy friend, and Giovanna Milora (12) as the assertive friend. Through their dance, they created personalities and emotions that they shared with the audience. These young dancers’ performances carried the show through their passionate dancing. 

Baumeister described her emotions on finding out she was cast as Swanhilda.

“This was my first leading role, although I have had supporting roles in previous productions,” she said. “When they came out with casting, I was so excited to be given this role but I was also nervous because I knew how much energy I would have to put into this demanding position.”

The story of Coppélia is about a girl named Swanhilda and her friends who notice a girl named Coppélia flirting with Swanhilda’s fiancé, Franz. After Swanhilda and her friends sneak into the home of Dr. Coppelius, the father of Coppélia, they realize that Coppélia is just a doll. The friends escape, leaving Swanhilda behind. Dr. Coppelius drugs Franz in order to use Franz to bring Coppélia to life. Swanhilda ruins his plan by pretending to be the doll. Eventually, Swanhilda and Franz escape just in time for their wedding.

The complicated plot required a mixture of acting and dance, which the performers honed at Dance Dimensions, the Children’s Ballet Theater studio.

“I love acting and the storyline is quite amusing to me so I feel I could portray the story to the audience well,” said Baumeister.  “Out of all the productions we do at Dance Dimensions, I think this is my favorite because not only is it fun to watch but also fun to perform. Everyone truly has a great time on stage and the audience picks up on that energy.”

The youngest Flying L to earn a significant part was Siena Zimmerman. 

“This ballet was the first time I received such a big role and it opened a position for me to make friends,” said Zimmerman. “My favorite part was [when] I tried on the costumes for the first time and realized the reality of how I had actually achieved a major role.” 

The transformation from being oneself to acting out a character’s personality and emotions strengthened their skills. The dancers worked together to thoroughly understand the story and reached a greater bond after the show’s end. 

“I’ve been dancing with these girls since I was a toddler,” said Varela-Nava. “We grew up together and it’s a wonderful experience performing with the people I’m closest to. It’s been an experience I will never forget.”

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