Le Ballet de Dracula: Scary good

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LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s original Le Ballet de Dracula has fans flock like people do for The Rocky Horror Picture Show during Halloween. It’s an occasion that calls for something borrowed and something black! The time period, costumes, romance and the good old-fashioned Halloween fright make this ballet a must see every October. This is not a candy-coated ballet where the SugarPlum Fairy reigns but an enticing, frightening, jump in your seat and gasp with delight ballet that’s an adventure that you don’t want to end.

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The ballet has exploded in popularity over ten years since Tom Rutherford, the company’s art director, wrote it and Kelly Lannin, the artistic director, choreographed it. Lannin draws us into the legend of Bram Stoker’s Dracula naturally and transforms beautiful ballerinas into gothic vampires. Lannin tells the story of Dracula just as Stoker’s novel did…taking us into thrilling peaks that build and keep the audience of the edge of their seats.
 
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My daughter looked up in awe at the dancer who portrayed Aurelia (the girl Dracula tries to lure from her fiancé) and whispered to her cousin, “Look! She’s under Dracula’s spell.” 
 
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Lannin requires her dancers to be actors just as much as ballerinas. They must be fully engaged in their roles. It’s obvious that Lannin’s dancers believe in their roles, they make Dracula real with the boldness and confidence of movements that explored the limits of graceful extensions that seemed to harmonize with the music.
 
The engagement of Aurelia (Carley Denton) and Marius (Steven Loch) is charming. This is the second year that Denton and Loch have performed these roles together…time is on their side. They look at each other with familiarity and love.
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The joyfulness of the Maypole dancing scene is my favorite, especially as the music and clapping build. It’s a nice contrast with the scary hissing Weolas.
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Nightmare becomes reality and Dracula descends in shimmering red to feed on Aurelia. Dracula (Shannon Beacham) has a dramatic presence that is intoxicating! Beacham has tenacity and fearlessness when he glides on stage with his cape flowing behind him.
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Steven Loch (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) has a rhythmic awareness and freshness that when he performs his grand jetés, it seems so naturally timed that you forget the music isn’t live.

It is always a pleasure to watch Denton perform. She attacks her toe hops with effortless elegance lingering just long enough to have you hold your breath as you admire her footwork.

The MCL Grande theatre is intimate enough for the audience to be more personally engaged in the fantasy. Seeing the mysterious fog, chains clanging on dungeon bars, many undead brides and Dracula rising from his coffin, it’s easy to forget you’re not in Romania but right outside of Dallas, Texas.
 
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The good news for those who missed this spooky ballet and for those who saw it and loved it…you can see these same talented young performers in more heavenly roles in The Nutcracker:
November 26th at 7:30 pm and 27th at 2 pm Marcus High School Sigler Auditorium, Flower Mound. Buy tickets here.
 
Le Ballet de Dracula photos, courtesy of Nancy Loch Photography.
 

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