Dancing to a Gothic Tune: The KC Ballet Does Dracula

Photo Credit: KC Ballet
Photo Credit: KC Ballet

This past weekend I dragged the boyfriend to the Kansas City Ballet. To his credit, he went willingly and even enjoyed himself! (Awesome!) I haven’t been to see the ballet more than once or twice in my life and I distinctly remember falling asleep as a small child when my mom took me and my sister. I was a little kid, so please don’t blame my current self.

Regardless, up until recently I haven’t been too interested in attending the ballet. But I passed a billboard a number of weeks ago advertising the next show; they were planning to do a ballet about Dracula. Dracula?! If you’ve been following me on this blog for a while, you already know that I love anything Gothic and experiencing different styles of storytelling and creative expression. The official title: “Dracula: The Blood is the Life.” Color me intrigued!

So I called up one of my best friends and my boyfriend and said, how about it? Luckily they are interested in weird things just like me (or at least are kind enough to tolerate them for my sake)! So we decided to make it a double-date.

Yesterday was the day and I have to say I had been looking forward to this show from the first time I saw the billboard. This show did not disappoint. The sets, costumes, dancing and special effects were all dazzling. Fog flowed all over the stage, lightning and thunder were frequent, and there were a number of comical moments to offset the tension. It was a very well-rounded show. Artistic, suspenseful and mesmerizing.

My favorite dancer was the guy who played Dracula. He was fantastic. He was strong and sensual. He made me think of a spider. But at the same time, he was almost feminine because of his costume. Dracula wears this amazing red cloak throughout most of the show. It has a hood and a train. I think the train is what makes it feel a bit feminine. When he dances while wearing it, it billows around him and looks spectacular. The cape is almost a character in of itself in this interpretation. It is the most striking color of any of the costumes you see on stage and it stands out sharply against Dracula’s white hair.

Another of my favorite things about this ballet was the intimate dancing that took place between Dracula and Jonathan Harker when Dracula takes his blood after Harker’s arrival at his castle in Transylvania. I don’t recall seeing any examples of two men dancing together in such a fashion in ballet (although as I said, I don’t have a lot of experience with ballet). They were dancing together and leaping with one another. I wish I had the correct dance vocabulary to convey to you the beauty of what we watched. It was palpably intimate and expertly portrayed the sexual undertones found in all Dracula stories.

While the Dracula/Harker dance was my favorite, there are a number of times when you see alternative dance sequences involving mismatched or differently matched partners or odd numbers of partners dancing together. There’s a dance where Lucy changes partners with all of her suitors and dances with both of them at the same time. There’s the dance between Harker and the three female vampires who find him in his bed before Dracula comes to him. I really enjoyed the different dynamics that were presented to the audience. These dances made the show feel very bold and I was pleased because they chose to stay true to the sensuality and the sense of impropriety that you get in the story of Dracula. Though the story we saw on stage does not follow Bram Stoker’s original plot line completely, they were true to the intimacies professed in Stoker’s story, to the sexuality that lies just beneath the surface in a very Victorian fashion, and to the suspenseful and fantastical nature of the story.

If this ballet is ever performed in your city, I highly recommend seeing it. If I could, I would go again next weekend! And if you are in Kansas City, I urge you to grab tickets for one of the shows this coming weekend. It’s the last weekend of the production! I was not a fan of the ballet before, but I am absolutely a fan now!

Here’s the long trailer for the show if you’re interested. It has lots of great reviews from people who have seen the show live in their cities: