It’s the Halloween season again and BalletMet Columbus has not failed in brewing up yet another biting performance of “Dracula.”
The ballet, choreographed and adapted by David Nixon, focuses on particular images, thoughts and ideas generated in Bram Stoker’s novel. Nixon explained his approach to adapting the classic to ballet in 1999.
“All readers are left with strong images of a story, but the moments which were memorable for one reader may have merely passed by another. I would be foolish to think that I could retell Bram Stoker’s novel in complete detail in dance,” he said.
Nixon’s thematic approach to the detail-filled tale lends to a ballet immersed in sensuality.
Before the ballet begins, the ominous tone of the performance is set with the 3-D image of doomed character, Lucy, serving as the stage curtain between acts. A tattered cloth, frayed at the end, is used to symbolize her flowing locks.
In act one, Dracula (Jim Orrante), awaits the arrival of young attorney, Jonathan Harker (Christian Broomhall). The stage is covered in shadows, as eerie animal calls echo in the background. Dancers disguised as horses gallop their way onto the stage, with Harker’s carriage in tow.
As Harker is trapped in Dracula’s castle, both Orrante and Broomhall use their strong dance talent and poised theatrical focus to convey their respective roles as the hunter and the prey. Daring leaps and sneaky crawls animate Dracula’s desperate stalk of Harker.
Quite a surprise, the brides of Dracula, (Sonia Welker, Rebecca Rodriguez, and Tracy Thayer) emote more sexual energy than any Hollywood leading lady could on screen. Clad in skimpy, torn gowns, they slither and slide across the stage. Their jumps, spins and stretches seduce Jonathan and make him forget his beloved Mina (Elizabeth Zengara), far away in England.
As the ballet progresses, the audience is introduced to Renfield, Dracula’s demonic pet. Richard Tullius does an excellent comedic turn as the monster, running rampant across the stage. His less than traditional flat-footed moves and expressive bulging eyes create a true ghoulish fright.
Act one ends with Dracula’s voyage to England to seduce both Mina and her confidant, Lucy. He manages to infect Lucy and she becomes ill. Jonathan returns to England.
Act two begins with the numbing image of Lucy’s funeral and Mina’s newfound obsession with the dark stranger. As Mina dances with Dracula, her innocent caresses and pleading eyes are a delicious juxtaposition to his venomous desire.
As Dracula’s madness spread through the body of dead Lucy and the still living Mina, Jonathan receives help in tracking down Dracula. The ballet ends with beautiful dancing framed by the characters’ fear, grief and madness.