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Preview: English Youth Ballet – Coppelia at Sunderland Empire


Young local dancers to showcase in

English Youth Ballet’s ‘Coppelia’

at Sunderland Empire

Friday 1 and Saturday 2 September 2023


There will be 3 performances of English Youth Ballet’s (EYB) charming and colourful ballet at Sunderland Empire this September. The humorous production will star 6 international principal dancers and showcase the talents of 80 young dancers from the local area.


Coppelia Act I - Photo: Patrick Baldwin

The story of Coppélia follows the escapades of the dreamy Franz and how he comically falls in love with a beautiful, life-like doll. The doll –Coppélia –is created by the eccentric, yet mysterious inventor, Dr Coppelius. The hilarious plot thickens when Franz’s jealous lover, Swanhilda, takes her friends on an adventure into the spooky house of the mad inventor to confront her rival. Of course, the story ends happily after the truth is uncovered. The whole town joins the most extravagant wedding celebration for the smitten Franz and Swanhilda.


The cast were selected in a big audition on stage at Sunderland Empire. Over 200 young dancers attended for the exciting opportunity. They all took part in a full ballet class on the stage. The successful auditionees found out that they had been selected on the day of the audition.


The young cast will have rehearsed for 60 hours over 10 days of rehearsals at weekends. At rehearsals, the dancers experience the working life of a professional dancer. Rehearsals always start with 3 company classes for the dancers to warm-up.

Phil Sam - Photo Peter Mares

Janet Lewis OBE, English Youth Ballet Director said: “English Youth Ballet’s aim is to provide performance experience to aspiring young dancers in beautiful venues close to where they live.. The young dancers get to experience what life is like in a professional ballet company. They learn about developing their artistic and performance skills as well as improving their technique. I am always amazed at how quickly the young dancers progress and how positive they are when presented with new challenges.”


Photo Peter Mares

EYB previously won The Stage Award for special achievement in regional theatre. The opportunity to watch EYB is a unique experience. Sell-out audiences are treated to beautiful international principal artists sharing the stage with the top up-and-coming young talent from the local area. EYB’s large cast ensures the ballet is performed with the scale and grandeur which was originally intended.


EYB principal dancers are of the highest calibre and have joined EYB from companies such as Vienna Festival Ballet, English National Ballet and Ballet Cymru. There are now ex-EYB young performers in some of the world’s best companies including the Royal Ballet.  including the Royal Ballet.


English Youth Ballet – Coppelia will pirouette onto Sunderland Empire’s stage for three performances only from 1-2 September 2023. Tickets are available online now at 

Subject to transaction fee of £3.80

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