DRACULA, the favorite “bad boy” of Halloween is back and scarier than ever! Audiences at the MCL Grande are encouraged to watch their necks and sprinkle garlic on themselves as Dracula takes a bite out of Lewisville in its tenth production for LBT’s Le Ballet de Dracula.
Le Ballet de Dracula is full of gothic charm…it’s everything pretty ballets are not! Dracula has a strong sense of mystery that is both eerie and frightening. To add to the gothic charm of Dracula, it is fun knowing that the ballet was first performed in the former Church, which was located on the very spot where the MCL Grand was later built. The ballet has burst in popularity in the last ten years since Tom Rutherford, the company’s art director, wrote it and Kelly Lannin, the artistic director, choreographed it.
Children at the Saturday matinée enjoyed a tour from the most beloved artistic director, Kelly Lannin. Children were presented with a veil and it was delightful to see all the little brides wandering around together. My daughter was curious to see some of the secrets of stage magic. Her favorite part was learning how the Weolas, frightening bat-like dancers, got into their cage through a secret door. For LBT’s tenth anniversary they brought back the haunted house which was both scary and whimsical. The fortune-teller asked children if they would like to have their palm read…we held out our hands and she put RED lipstick on our hands and pronounced in her gypsy voice, “Now your palm is RED!”
The haunted house and bride workshop helped to get us in the mood for Dracula. The curtain opened and we were transported back in time to 1897 Transylvania.
The Weolas (scary bat-like animals) opened up the performance crawling out with contorted movements and spinning their heads like hungry nocturnal gremlins. Dracula’s minion, Ratcliff (Asia Waters) enters and manages to scare the Weolas away (for a while) by showing a shiny golden cross.
Waters is very convincing as Dracula’s slave. She’s a true performer with her nervous facial expressions and awkward scuttling back and forth movements. She has the audience leaning forward as if contemplating wanting to leap from their seats and help her search for food and the golden cross.
A new day brings in the sun in a romantic Romanian countryside. It’s a time of celebration as the town prepares to celebrate the engagement of Aurelia (Carley Denton) and Marius (Steven Loch). The town is full of love for the happy couple and watch with awe as they Denton and Loch portray their love for each other in a lovely pas de deux.
One of Steven Loch’s (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) great points is his elevation, the distance which he is able to rise in the air and the lightness with which he rises is breathtaking!
It is always a pleasure to watch Denton perform. She has a natural stage presence that is captivating…you can’t take your eyes off of her. I hear that she can sing too…Broadway was made for this dancer, actress and singer who can execute spot on en dedan pirouettes.
I have a fondness for folk dancing and the Maypole dance does not disappoint. The whole Romanian town dances together…the gypsies are my favorite. If I were to dance a role, I would want to be a gypsy…free, flexible and fiery with just the right amount of abandonment.
There is just something about Dracula (Shannon Beacham)! He is so cool and controls everything…he rules the ballet. He is careful, protective but super powerful…it makes me palpitate!
When Dracula puts a spell on his newest bride, Aurelia (Denton), her controlled and sprightly movements become a little more luxurious…watching Beacham and Denton together is spellbinding.
The second act opens with Dracula’s many brides as they awaken in the crypt of his castle seductively bourreeing in a tangle of white veils. The ghostly fog and makeup is a dramatic difference to the first act.
Aurelia is rescued just in time with the help of her fiance and Dracula’s minion.
The ballet is modern and fun and shows off the talents of the company’s dancers. The stage effects, gothic costumes and lighting add to the atmosphere. Music can be improved…the transitions between the songs could be spliced (live music would be dreamy) so the dancers don’t forcast their anticipation of the next movement.
LBT is known for family friendly ballets like The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Cinderella but their production of Dracula (while still being family friendly) shows that they have an interesting darker side.
Congratulations to LBT on a decade of Dracula! Next up, the twenty-fifth anniversary of LBT’s Nutcracker!
Le Ballet de Dracula photos, courtesy of Nancy Loch Photography.