Ballet West presents a balletic take on ‘Dracula’

Ballet West presents a balletic take on Dracula

Ballet West, Utah’s premier ballet company, is bringing “Dracula the Ballet” to the stage for audiences to enjoy, from Oct 22-30.

Ballet West was founded in 1963 by William F. Christensen (who was the company’s first artistic director) and Glenn Walker Wallace. Since then the company has delighted audiences with timeless productions including William Christensen’s “The Nutcracker”(which will be running from Dec 4-26 this year) which is the longest running production of “The Nutcracker” in the United States. While “The Nutcracker” is performed every Christmas season Ballet West is also putting on “Dracula the Ballet’ for the Halloween season. With a Halloween ballet not being very common it is exciting to see what the company has in store for theatergoers.

The ballet is split into three acts with an intermission between each act. Act 1 starts the ballet in the hall of Dracula’s castle. The sets, lighting, makeup, and costumes really set the atmosphere so that you could really feel the gloom and eeriness of the castle. The ballet starts off with Dracula and his wives dancing. The wives were played by 18 female corps de ballet members and members of the second company. The wives of Dracula were truly a stand out throughout the entire show. They were able to create a quality of melancholiness as well as make their movements have a sort of floating quality which was absolutely perfect for the characters they were portraying. Not only were they able to bring their characters to life, their technique and ability to stay together was absolutely amazing. Draula was played by Principal Adrian Fry, who was able to bring to life the iconic character while maintaining exquisite technique and partnering to the stage. In this act Flora, played by Alison DeBona is brought to Dracula in order to become his next bride. Alison was truly able to portray the story through her acting as well as her dancing, bringing the audience along as she struggles against Dracula until she is ultimately overpowered by him. The final character introduced in act one was Renfield portrayed by Joshua Shutkind. Renfield was a sort of comedic relief throughout the ballet. If not performed well the character could fall very flat, however due to Shutkind’s performance of the character the audience was thoroughly entertained by this character. All together act one was a brilliant way to start the ballet from the awe-inspiring dancing to setting the proper atmosphere of what the audience should expect.

Act 2 was the classic village act that is a pillar in ballet performances. In this act we get to know the characters of Svetlana and Fredrick played by Chelsea Keefer and Tyler Gum respectively. This act did not have a lot of story to it, although it did establish the relationship between Frederick and Svetlana. Keefer and Gum enchanted the audience with their dancing especially when it came to their pas de deux work. The way the Gum and Keefer were able to dance together brought a stunning execution that had the audience wanting to catch every movement. Along with the performance from the main couple you were also introduced to the Priest played by Chase O’Conell, Hadriel Diniz as the innkeeper, Emily Adam’s as His Wife and Jenna Rae Herrera as the Old Woman. In this act both male and female corps members played peasants that really helped set the scene of the village. Towards the end of the act DeBona enters the stage as Flora who has now been turned into a wife of Dracula. DeBona’s acting here had to be one of the highlights of the performance; she was able to portray cunning as well as insane to truly show the audience that her character has been transformed since act one. With the help of Renfield and Flora, Dracula captures Svetlana in order to turn her into his newest bride.

The final act opens with Dracula’s brides in the bedroom awaiting his return. When trying to turn Svetlana into one of his brides, Dracula and Svetlana perform an incredible pas de deux where both the story and the performer’s exquisite dancing is showcased. With the help of Flora, Renfield, and his other brides Dracula almost succeeds in turning Svetlana. However, Frederick, the priest, and the innkeeper arrive to try to rescue Svetlana. A battle for Svetlana begins which has the audience thinking either side could win. Everyone plays an important role in this battle from the corps de ballet, to the priest, to Dracula himself. All the components come together in a scene that creates a beautiful chaos of dancing and story as a battle at the ballet should be. Something that was a stand out was the effects when destroying the castle complete with pyrotechnics going off on the chandelier.

Overall, this is a ballet that will be hard to forget. From Ben Stevenson’s bewitching choreography, the company’s dancers, to Franz Liszt’s score the whole show came together in a way that was truly alluring. Ballet West’s was a true hit that audiences would be happy to see onstage again in the near future.