“My favourite part of the ballet is when I give a heart or soul to everybody on stage.”
As CBJ enters the last month of its performance tour of Coppélia: A Comedy with Love, Hiroto Saito reflects on dancing the role of Dr. Coppélius, the mysterious toymaker who creates the beautiful doll, Coppélia. Hiroto shares the best and most challenging elements of dancing this role and explains why CBJ’s Coppélia has been such a special ballet in his performance career.
How would you describe your character in Coppélia?
Dr. Coppélius is the creator of the whole world of Coppélia. He has a creative vision of beauty and is a caring character with an affectionate quality. At the same time, he feels like there is something lacking and spends a long time looking for that missing piece. Dancing this role is like playing a god-like character and a storyteller at the same time. He is the mastermind behind what is happening on stage.
What do you love most about dancing the role of Dr. Coppélius?
My favourite part of the ballet is when I give a heart or soul to everybody on stage. Dr. Coppélius gives that missing piece he was searching for. It’s very fulfilling on stage to offer that special moment!
“It is probably one of the most challenging roles to play as an actor and a dancer, too.”
What is the biggest challenge of playing Dr. Coppélius?
It is probably one of the most challenging roles to play as an actor and a dancer, too. There are so many layers to this character. I don’t know how a creator would act, so I have to do everything through my imagination. It’s always through trial and error in rehearsal that I discover how to use the movement to express emotion and react to others on stage. There are also many partnerings in this ballet. At one point, my partner is playing the role of a doll and she doesn’t help me out with the coordination of the steps. It is technically demanding.
What do you love about this ballet?
CBJ’s version of Coppélia has been a good piece for me. Bengt created it as a co-production with the Hong Kong Ballet in 2001. At the time, I played the other male lead, Nathaniel. It was my first principal role. It’s a nice feeling to get to perform a different lead as a senior dancer. I really love this production. It brings joy and bitter heartache at the same time. It’s filled with lots of love. There’s a breakthrough in this production because of that love. Through this journey, I hope that the audience can get the same kind of fulfillment that the dancers get on stage. I feel grateful to be part of it.
“Through this journey, I hope that the audience can get the same kind of fulfillment that the dancers get on stage. I feel grateful to be part of it.”
CBJ is on tour for the month of April including 2 performances in Toronto. See April tour dates.
Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.
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