Evolving ‘Dracula’ Returns On Tiptoes

“Dracula” is back. The ballet, that is. The Conservatory Ballet Theatre is working to make its third annual event a tradition on par with the famed “The Nutcracker.”

The production at The Met combines classical dance, theater, visual effects and a collage of recorded music and sounds to tell the well-known Bram Stoker story.

Although the framework of the story remains the same, artistic director Rita Brodie’s choreography has evolved from year to year to tell the story better, keep the dance fresh and to reflect the talents of the dancers involved in the production.

Brodie describes her cast with familial fondness, describing the many long hours they put in at the ballet bar and extolling their individual talents.

In addition to the local talent, there are a couple of professional dancers brought in from other companies: Avelardo Asneros from Ballet Mexico, and David Sukonic, the artistic director of The Well-Tempered Ballet Company in Los Angeles.

Sukonic brings a wealth of experience in classic and modern dance and choreography. The L.A. troupe, which consists of 30 professionals, is looking to film his piece “Will Dance for Food,” about the lives of starving artists, next year.

Sukonic, who is dancing the part of Jonathan Harker, says, “Rita has let me have a free hand in suggesting, redoing and creating steps and moves for ‘Dracula.”’ He says much of what he has learned and has to offer comes through observing and assimilating what other dancers have to offer.

“Once dancers see something can be done a different way, at a different level, everyone strives to achieve at that level, combining the technique that they already have with a style that they see,” he says.

“This is the way dancers learn to incorporate new material - by seeing an example and trying it themselves. It’s not just copying but making it a part of your own style and technique.”

Brodie offers that both, because of the familiar plot line of the story of Dracula and because the event involves theater to support the action, this event makes for a good introduction to classical dance.

Often in ballet, the audience is expected to have a deeper understanding of the abstract symbolism of the dance as it relates to the theater, but that is not necessary for the enjoyment of “Dracula.”

xxxx “DRACULA - THE BALLET” STAGED BY CONSERVATORY BALLET THEATRE Location and time: The Met, tonight, Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $12.50 and $10 ($8 for students on Sunday)

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