Monday, October 24, 2011
18 vampire brides! You gotta admit, Drac has a way with women. And Ballet West's Dracula is all you could wish for: tall, dark, formidable, and bloodthirsty. In the first act, he stalks about desperate for a drink, but his fanatically devoted mistresses are empty husks of their former selves. Unable to slake his thirst, Dracula sends his minion Renfield to the pastoral village at the foot of the mountains.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I'm a huge devotee of the ballet, Halloween, and gothic Victorian mystery. So when I heard Ballet West was bringing Dracula to the stage, I geeked out in the way only a balletomane can, by pirouetting across the room.
After I picked myself up off the floor, I contacted Ballet West's PR department, and commenced begging. They very considerately let me sit in on a dress rehearsal. I even got to walk up on the stage and galk at the massive sets, and they are impressive.
The first act takes place outside Dracula's castle and consists of a series of dances and impressive moves from Dracula and his brides--some of whom fly. This ballet, by Ben Stevenson, debuted in 1997, but it hearkens back to the classic ballets like Coppelia and Giselle. The story just provides backdrop for the dancing. The first act reminds me of another classic Les Sylphide in which the stage is filled with ghostly ballerinas. The first act culminates with Dracula feasting on the latest offering brought to him by Renfield. Once he's satisfied, he leaves the remains for his brides to finish off while he sets off for the village below.
The second act opens in the village below. It's a time of celebration for Svetlana who is turning 18. The village celebration is dampened slightly by an old woman who has a premonition of somthing evil. Svetlana's beau Frederick proposes, and Svetlana joyfully accepts, but not before she 1) dances around a lot; and 2) makes Frederick ask her father for her hand in marriage. This provides one of the lighter moments in the ballet.
Just when a happy ending seems assured, thunder and lightening break up the scene and Dracula's carriage sweeps on stage. This does not bode well for the newly betrothed couple.
You'll have to see the third act for yourself. One of the highlights for me was Renfield's solo number. His frenzied movements made me believe he could give the Orkin man a run for his money.
Costuming, music, choreography: beautiful. While I've seen it close-up in rehearsal, I can't wait to see it again in performance.
Dracula runs through November 1st with matinees on Saturdays at 2:00 p.m.
Audiences are encouraged to come in costume!