Travelling shows of the late 18th and early 19th centuries featuring mechanical automata are thought to have influenced the creation of Coppélia, a ballet about a mechanical doll created by Dr Coppelius, which was first performed in 1870 in Paris.

Coppélia West Australian Ballet Coppélia

It’s come a very long way since then – notably from Austria to its new setting in South Australia in this production, choreographed by Greg Horsman. He wanted to make it more pertinent to Australian audiences by locating it here and rendering the plot more realistic. The most cheeky idea was to incorporate footie players throwing and bouncing the oval ball (gingerly) to capture the girls’ attention. Well, this is a comic ballet after all, although you wouldn’t think so to start with.

To give Dr Coppelius a personal reason for building the doll, Horsman incorporates the death of his daughter, which occurs on the voyage to Australia. He adds this back-story through a captivating filmed prologue which looks like huge, sepia-coloured comic book illustrations....