INsite Magazine

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dance Alive National Ballet presents Dracula

Dance Alive National Ballet has been bringing beautiful performances to North Central Florida for years. The company’s 44th season opened last Friday (Oct. 30) with Dracula.

Dracula, with all its lore, drama and—dare I say it? sex—is a whole new realm of dance. It’s beautiful, yes, but it’s also gripping and a little frightening in the best possible way. The company of internationally recognized dancers gave a moving performance, all while making their complicated steps look easy.

As the curtains opened to show us the imposingly large set of Count Dracula’s estate, the narrator, Dr. Van Helsing (Ric Rose) gave us the backstory: lawyer Jonathan Harker (Rostislav Dzabraev) travels to Transylvania to meet the rich, mysterious (and bloodsucking) Count Dracula (Andre Valladon.) Harker is met by the count and his three vampire brides (Carla Amancio, Reka Gyulai, Beth Ann Maslinoff).

Dracula comes spinning on stage, whirling around so quickly it makes my head spin. But it’s awesome. He is definitely a powerful dancer. When he’s on stage it’s hard to take your eyes off of him. And the music matches perfectly—the sounds are vibrant at times, ominous at others.
I’d like to live in this world—where people don’t speak; they dance to show their passion, sadness, happiness, fear. Dracula and his mortal victim Lucy’s (Michele Incollingo) duet after their first encounter is particularly compelling. You can hear every word their dancing is saying.
The production takes a turn in a different direction when the graveyard vampires come on stage. They are all dressed in ethereal white skirts, and the group of about 15 dancers move beautifully in unison, as one graceful, undead mass. I am amazed at how everyone seems light as air.
After the performance, the stage became a dance floor of another kind. The Dance Alive Halloween costume gala began about half an hour after the ballet. A small crowd gathered on the stage to eat food catered by Buddha Belly, mingle with the company and dance to Halloween classics. The same set from Count Dracula’s castle was even more beautiful up close.

The dancers mingled with each other and bounced from table to table, greeting friends and strangers. The DJ, dressed in his own Dracula garb, played Halloween favorites like “Monster Mash” and the theme to “Ghostbusters.” A rousing version of “Mambo Italiano” brought the stars of the show onto the dance floor. It was great to see them dance to just cut loose. Dance should be fun, and, for these people, it truly is.

—Amelia Marty; Photos by Sarah Hsu

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