Colorado Ballet is known for pushing boundaries and putting on performances that one wouldn’t expect from a ballet performance. Their latest offering, a production of Dracula, is creepy and gothic-inspired, but also beautiful and delicate.
One of the most impressive things about this performance is the stage layout and set design. With the use of sliding props, an opaque background, plenty of fog, and cool lighting, the ballet comes alive and communicates in a way that it couldn’t otherwise without spoken word. Even though there is no vast Transylvanian forest or lavish city on the stage, the cool props convey the mood of each scene.
As with all Colorado Ballet performances, the dancing is superb. There is plenty of graceful, on-point action from the leading ladies, and also a lot of unique male dancing. Some of the characters do ballet in knee-high hunting boots, which is just cool, and all the graceful movements of Dracula bring a more refined and graceful air to spookiness. The costumes are pretty sparse; most of the beauty in the performance comes from the dancers’ movements and the cool scenery.
There isn’t much at all negative to say about this ballet, except for the fact that if you aren’t familiar with the story, it is hard to follow what’s going on. Some of it is obvious due to the skill of the dancers—like Dracula being spooky with sexual undertones, and people being drawn to him. But other moments are harder to read, especially when they involve relationships between characters that aren’t clear without spoken word. Luckily, the programs contain a summary of the plot, so you can always take a peak if you find yourself getting lost during the action.
There are even a few queer moments in the mix, which is both appropriate for the story and awesome to see on stage. There are always some questionable interactions in any telling of the tale between Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker, the protagonist. Harker goes and stays in his castle and Dracula’s attraction to the scent of Harker’s blood almost reads like sexual attraction. It’s almost as if Dracula’s only criteria for an attractive mate is making sure they are chock full of blood. In the ballet version, Dracula barges in on Harker while he is being seduced by vampire women, and essentially, or at least it appears to the audience, kicks them out and continues the seduction himself.
Dracula is certainly worth a watch if you have the funds to drop on a ballet performance. The show is executed beautifully, and perfect for this the current “holiday season.” This is the last weekend it’s playing, so grab a ticket now!