Lewisville — As Halloween approaches, the possibilities for spooky entertainment are endless. However, hayrides, haunted houses, and ghost tours pale in comparison to LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s Le Ballet de Dracula. A staple of the community for 13 years, Dracula holds a most impressive combination of artistry and terror. With ornate sets and costumes, Artistic Director Kelly Kilburn Lannin’s production lures audience member into an artfully crafted world of magic, intrigue, and supernatural ballerinas.
A unique spin on Bram Stoker’s Dracula story, the ballet featured two wildly varied acts. After an ominous preface, the stage opened to a pleasant Transylvanian village full of distinctive characters—perky Romanian dancers pivoting sharply, villagers skipping cheerfully, and barefoot gypsies swishing their hips with sultry glances. Enter the love-struck couple: Maruis, played by guest artist Marlen Alimanov, and Aurelia, portrayed by Carly Greene. The two make a lovely couple. Alimanov’s graceful, yet strong support gave Greene an ideal partner for her assisted pirouettes and extensions. She glided with beautiful musicality; extending her balances through the last notes of the accompaniment. I only wished that she matched her luxurious timing with more length and reach in her movements. However, Alimanov’s maturity and experience helped conceal this with his sweeping arms, expansive leaps, and spectacular turns.
Throughout their pas de deux, the background characters continued their roles with dedication—remaining engaged in gestures and facial expressions. The supporting cast also shined during the Maypole section, where villagers and friends wove in, out, and around one another with colorful streamers.
Alas, this joyful mood could only last for so long. Ending the celebration with a gypsy spell, Dracula (played by faculty member Shannon Beacham) burst through the town with sharp, slicing steps. Menacing from the start, Beacham snatched Aurelia for himself in a zombie-like duet. Greene seemed better suited for this spellbound role as she jetted her arms rigidly and lifted her legs mechanically. Now under Dracula’s control, she served as his plaything—being thrown, lifted, and spun by a heavy-handed Beacham. Lacking the supportive connection from her interaction with Alimanov, the duet revealed clumsier partner work and moments of tension throughout both bodies. Returning to assist Dracula with his abduction of Aurelia, the creepy weolas (black, winged, bat-like creatures) rolled and crawled around the stage—hissing and spreading their wings as the first act came to a close.
Act Two ventured deeper into darkness as the smoke screen faded to reveal Castle Dracula. Through the mist, the brides of Dracula lay on the floor and stretched their arms upward, arched their backs, and hissed as Dracula’s first love, Marcela (Mikaela Seale) emerged. This group of vampire brides reminded me of a malevolent version of Giselle’s willis—clothed white dresses, chugging in tilted arabesques. Demanding both technical excellence and acting skills, the group delivered a frighteningly explosive performance.
Once Dracula brought a terrified Aurelia to join them, the two engaged in another stressful duet. Still missing a sense of weight sharing, the lifts and turns remained forceful and strained. But before Dracula could bite his prey and sentence her to vampire life, Marius leaped past the swirling brides and weolas and warded off his enemies with brilliant turns. Eventually, the battle ended as Alimanov struck a wooden stake through the villain’s heart—killing the evil creatures within. Although the two lovers escaped together, Dracula surprised viewers as his hand cut through the smoke before the curtain closed—leaving his fate unclear.
Thoroughly chilling, LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s production continues to thrill audiences with entrancing visuals, creative choreography, and committed characterizations. It seems that Le Ballet de Dracula is one production that improves over time.