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Ten minutes into the show, I write down my 5-star rating. An hour and forty minutes later, my intuition is proved correct. Kevan Allen’s choreography and direction is, to me, faultless. Throughout the entirety of the show there is a BEAUTIFUL blend of dance languages. Allen has created something beyond ballet; a graceful fusion with the bones of ballet but wrapped in the flesh of dance, with a capital ‘D’. Begging, borrowing and stealing from all aspects of movement, Allen has birthed something breath-taking.


Not to mention that it is gorgeously performed. Every performer in the show moves with a grace and ease that should be impossible. They are a superhuman force combining the most challenging of physical feats with alluring smiles and palpable personal connection.   

This show is also a perfect example of harmonious convergence in performance and scenography: the costumes are intricate; the set quaint; the music, a textured and complex auditory journey. The creative team deserve a bow of their own.

There is not one single chance I understand the whole show, but I don’t care. And that is the pinnacle of art. I go into the show with no previous knowledge at all of the story of Coppelia, but I follow the narrative being delivered to me with relative ease. Not being a purveyor of professional dance, I am not fluent in the language they speak; but at no point do I feel alienated or unwelcome. Good dance is good storytelling and Coppelia is told beautifully. Allen proves, with no difficulty whatsoever, that performance can evolve with the times without sacrificing or forgoing tradition.  



The narrative power of this performance is truly remarkable – capable of immersing us, as an audience, into its sometimes innocent, some others bleak, but always whimsical universe of oddities, 


A grandiose effort coming from a petite troupe, KVN’s Coppelia proves, once again, the strengths of theatricality by regaling us with so much without recurring to anything else than the talent and quality of its performance. Boasting some innovative traits through its continuous conjunction of past and present in a fully unified structure, this production has returned the sweetness and sentimentality of its core foundation while discreetly branching out into other exciting possibilities. 

Portraying their roles with almost technical flawlessness and refreshing determination and care, Allen’s concept is put in safe hands by an incredible ensemble – playing their parts with impeccable timing, flair and rapport. Fusing passion, delicacy and palpable understanding and determination for the story they are trying to tell, their portrayals are genuinely captivating – rendering an intricate picture that not only achieves to transport us, but actually move us and oblige us. 

FIRST NIGHT  – Guillermo Nazara

Perhaps the most thought-provoking moment of the ballet, however, is the portrayal of Coppelia’s placement in the window of the doctor’s shop in the square. This action is built into a scene change in which the silhouetted townsfolk are seen rearranging the stage, as Coppelia remains the single subject, beautifully downlit in the centre of the square. The shifting stage brilliantly mirrors the mechanical movement of Coppelia herself, as she twists into place, blankly staring the audience down until a book is placed into her hand. This scene change also adds a dimension to the ballet’s central question — that of the doll’s impact on the broader psychological atmosphere of the town itself. 

THE REVIEWS HUB – Flynn Hallman

KVN Dance Company's Coppelia boldly redefines ballet, captivating both newcomers and seasoned fans alike. It delivers a daring and accessible fusion of timeless elegance and contemporary raw energy that gives goosebumps throughout, demonstrating that even the most classic narratives can be dynamically reimagined and brought to thrilling new life.


Allen’s choreography is intricate and carefully put together. Drawing on his wide-ranging experience, he switches from classical ballet technique to hip-hop or contemporary cleanly and cohesively. That’s quite a challenge and calls for a lot from the dancers. It requires them to be very versatile and precise, as they switch from total extension of body and limbs to groovy, grounded moves. 

Everyone delivers wonderfully, allowing the audience to sit, relax and enjoy the equally good storytelling. 

Overall, Kevan Allen’s Coppélia is a beautiful show; one where everything comes together to deliver a must-watch performance. Highly recommended. 

SEEING DANCE - Anna Pujol Castiblanque 

Founded by Kevan Allen, their aim is to attract new audiences to dance by expanding its possibilities and making it fun and accessible. If their production of Coppelia is anything to go by, they are succeeding beautifully. 

The choreography is fun and clever, the costumes (by Wendy Olver) a delight, and the set is light and buoyant in the outside scenes, dark and broody in Dr Coppelius’ lab. The other toys in the attic are gorgeously dressed and come to life with sparkle and zest. Praise also goes to Mike Robertson’s atmospheric lighting, especially in Coppelius’ workshop. I was even more impressed with the costumes and set when I read in the programme that the company is almost entirely sustainable, and everything is made from second-hand materials that have been acquired and donated.

BALLET CO FORUM  -  Simonetta Dixon.

A brave man, Kevan Allen, to put his money where his mouth is…..into a project that seems to have been bubbling in his mind for a long time….and I hope it pays off for him. It deserves to, a four-star production that could be more with extra room to manoeuvre. It gets a standing ovation – and this is not press night but its sixth – and clapping in time with the music. It’s a dance gig – please can we all join in?

His remix of Coppelia is huge fun, with foot-tapping music from electronic dance whizz Rickard Berg (nineteenth century Delibes is in there somewhere, like a distant memory, in this exciting mash-up) that plays like a film score; a young cast of thirteen, some ballet trained, some musical theatre; fabulous costumes from Wendy Olver; and Justin Williams performs wonders on the Cockpit tiny stage with his set design aided by Mike Robertson’s lighting. 

Street, contemporary, a touch of classical, waltzes, dance /musical theatre, Coppelia covers them all, but its the shoulder – shrugging, a bit of popping, and group formation dance that is the most head-bopping infectious. The beat is great.   I hope this is just the beginning of its journey. Surely the West End calls. 



Visually stunning like a surrealist sculpture garden, Choreographer and Director Kevan Allen masterfully builds more than one intriguing and heavily textured world. Wendy Olver’s costume design is show-stealing. Dr Coppelius and his creation, occupy a steam-punk sphere that teems with fanciful characters. It’s a world of leather and brass in which we see the subconscious made phantasmagorical with the arrival of creatures and characters bedecked and transformed by feathers, plague-doctor-masks-cum-crow beaks, Benin bronze visages and dada-esque tropes.


In the other world, of satin and velvet, we experience classical ballet and the wedding cake confection of the more typical comedy of manners of the popular Delibes composition. Justin Williams’ set design also crucially serves the contrast whilst cleverly and functionally being part of this production’s movement and geometry that both immerse and arrest the audience. There is something throat-grabbingly immediate and visceral about this tableau; with a startling quality like Luis Buñuel directing a Lovecraft script rather than the pretty candy- box impressionism through which fairy stories are so often refracted.


This ambitious and intriguing production of Coppelia delivers handsomely and is very much worth checking out.



The autumn dance season, one that has major world premieres wherever you look, got off to a fine start at the intimate Cockpit theatre with Kevan Allen’s Coppelia, the first production for his new KVN Dance Company. He promised a deeper, slightly darker look at what is usually a pretty lightweight ballet. He does not disappoint in what is a fine production full of energy and quite brilliant designs.  


Driven entirely by the dance, the story rattles along at a fair pace. Not a step or a second is wasted. Allen’s combination of ballet, contemporary and hip-hop comes together easily as dances and scenes flow effortlessly into one another. 

It’s a brave choreographer who launches his company with a new version of such a popular full-length work. Kevan Allen pulls it off in what is a super piece that delights enormously. As things stand, the only opportunity to catch this Coppelia is during the present Cockpit Theatre season. I hope it gets the chance to be seen more widely. It’s fine cast and creative team, certainly deserve it.  



The Choreography is where it’s all happening. I loved the spectrum of dance genres mixing ballet with street, hip-hop, contemporary and commercial. The large troupe of 13 dancers were all brilliant, each bringing to life their individual characterisations. All skilled in the demands of Kevan who’s choreography really came to life in the full ensemble numbers, individual groups that come together to flow into unison choreography and then back out again. Dance Numbers that require many different but simultaneous choreographic elements that then become cohesive. Some very clever and wonderful stuff. 


THEATRE REVIEWS - Richard Lambert   

Kevan Allen comes from a varied dance background, from commercial and musical theatre to contemporary and street, which is reflected in his energetic and distinctive choreography, but it’s the sheer profusion of ideas that help make his new version of the popular classic so engrossing. The production brims with well thought-through characters, all of who are excellently taken by the entire cast. ……I adore Coppelia, and admit to approaching this production with trepidation, but Kevan Allen, in this clever reimagining, remains true to the ballets spirit whilst creating something new and appealing. 


DANCING TIMES  –  Jonathan Gray

True to the marketing, we get a real splicing of dance styles and musical cut-ups; hip-hop features as much as ballet but there’s still plenty of room for contemporary too. It all chugs along nicely, the differing physical styles fit alongside each other harmoniously and Delibes music is transformed into a beats-laden, bass-throbbing piece of electronica that frequently re-peats, distorts and grinds to a halt to interesting effect. It all works, I think, because the various musical and choreographic styles accompany different characters and situations. 


DANCE EUROPE  – Gerard Davis 

Kevan Allen’s choreography is a seamless combination of dancing styles: Pure classical ballet blends with commercial dancing, a touch of hip hop and, of course, lots of robotic dancing for Dr. Coppelius’s dolls in an extended scene set in his workshop. Surprisingly, it works very well. 

KVN’s thirteen strong company come from a variety of training backgrounds, and if their technical level varies, what you can’t fault is their commitment and contagious enthusiasm, something we’re surely prepared to pay money to see. 


CULTURE WHISPER – Teresa Guerreiro

IIn 1934, Adrian Stokes wrote about the relationship between action and music in ballet: “The action does not interpret the music, nor the music the action. They would appear to belong to different atmospheres. Yet they cannot be held apart, since the picture they compose is unforgettable.” This is very much the impression of the opening night of KVN Dance Company’s Coppelia at The Cockpit Theatre. Here the ‘different atmospheres’ include the costumes, sets and lighting, each on their individual layers of experience, that combine with the cast to create a high-octane performance that is in turn heightened by the proximity of the audience to the action. 


Taking the traditional ballet’s narrative structure as a starting point, choreographer/director Kevan Allen and composer Rickard Berg have produced a masterful mash up of dance styles, sounds and popular Delibes tunes with turntable-inspired rhythms and beats that transform the action into the immediate present. Wendy Olver’s costumes, too, displace the characters from classical ballet to a sophisticated enclave of extrovert bohemians, in contrast to Justin Williams’ modular set retaining the sylvan character of the original. Throughout KVN Dance Company’s production of Coppelia these similarities to and divergences from the traditional ballet endlessly encourage and subvert our expectations. 


WRITING ABOUT DANCE  –  Nicholas Minns 

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