No one can resist a scary story involving weolas (bat-like creatures), vampire brides and Dracula. LakeCities Ballet Theatre drove this point home during its first sold-out performance of Le Ballet de Dracula Friday night at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater.
The story, created by Tom Rutherford, takes place in a small Transylvanian town where the villagers are celebrating the engagement of protagonists Marius (Ruben Gerding) and Aurelia (Bridget Polei). The luminous sets and festive period costumes in harvest hues emphasized the joyous occasion; as did the choreography by LBT Artistic Director Kelly Kilburn Lannin.
Marius and Aurelia's hopeful pas de deux was an ode to young love. Gerding and Polei's dark features and casual elegance made them well-suited for one another. Gerding's lifts were effortless and Polei's assisted triple pirouettes and ponche arabesques were rock solid.
Along with classical ballet technique, Lannin also incorporated folk dance and contemporary as seen in the Romanian dancers and Gypsies dance segments. All these techniques came together for the climatic Maypole dance. Romanian dancers stomped, Gypsies strutted and Aurelia's Friends floated their way around the Maypole, weaving in and out of each other holding bright-colored ribbons as they went. Happy to say no one faltered during this tricky pattern sequence.
The party took a dark turn when Count Dracula (Shannon Beacham) arrived with his minion Ratcliff (Asia Waters) to claim Aurelia as his bride. The dim lighting and ominous music set the scene for Beacham's arrival. Every step and hand gesture appeared calculated adding to Dracula's mysterious aura. He stayed only long enough to hypnotize Aurelia during an erringly-moving pas de deux before stealing her away in the night.
Menacing fog and a dungeon setting welcomed us to Dracula's Castle in Act II. Underneath the fog rested the Brides of Dracula including head bride Marcela (Alexandria Loy). Shrill music filled the air as reaching hands appeared through the fog. Dressed in white flimsy gowns and tattered veils, the Brides gradually awoke. Marcela led the 14 other brides through a graceful yet disturbing pointe routine heightened by the brides' hissing sounds and unblinking gazes. The performers' classical training was evident in their controlled pointe work and body placement.
The pivotal fight scene between Dracula and Marius was cleaner than in previous years. The timing of the punches and lifts were better, and the actual staking of Dracula was broken down to enhance dramatic effect.
From the unique story and challenging choreography to the fresh sets, clever lighting and creative costumes and make-up, LakeCities Ballet Theatre has reached new highs with its seventh annual production of Le Ballet de Dracula, which has repeat performances at 2 and 7:30 p.m. today.
Katie Dravenstott is a freelance writer and dance instructor in Dallas. Visit her at www.kddance.wordpress.com.