Ballet's 'Dracula' interesting, exciting Dance: The Annapolis company's production, based on the novel, had spectacular dancing, haunting music, fine costumes, expert staging and great lighting.

October 29, 1998|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Ballet Theater of Annapolis staged its version of "Dracula" so soon after the Pasadena Playhouse's dramatization opened that I feared I would be Dracula-ed out. Happily, I wasn't.

Artistic director Edward Stewart's dance adaptation proved interesting and exciting.

Created last season for the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's Victorian novel, the ballet has much to recommend it -- spectacular dancing, haunting music, fine costuming, expert staging and great lighting.

Dmitry Tuboltsev, the former Bolshoi Ballet dancer who has become the theater's principal male dancer, has the stage presence, acting ability and dancing skill to realize all aspects of the bifurcated vampire, who is both living and dead, forbidding and attracting.

With his showy technique and command of the stage, Tuboltsev is perfect for the role.

Natasha Kiryanova as Mina, the mortal woman Dracula loved, was lyrical and ethereal. Zhirui Zou, guest artist in residence and principal dancer of the National Ballet of China, danced with sensitivity and beauty. Leslie Bradley, BTA's principal female dancer, moved with fluid precision as Lucy, using Dracula's cape with authority and displaying incredible leg extensions.

As Jonathan Harker, Thomas Bell managed in his pas de deux HTC with Mina to convey a wholesome love. He also held his own with Tuboltsev -- no small feat.

Jeffrey Watson was Dracula as Beast, dancing with his head covered in an animal costume. It is challenging enough to be convincing as Tuboltsev's alter ego, but even more so when burdened with such a costume. Watson did well.

The Brides of Dracula -- Sandra Prehoda, Anmarie Touloumis, and Shari Vazquez -- added beauty and eroticism to the ballet.

The dozen Vampire Women provided an additional sensual dreamlike quality, and the company chose wisely when it recruited midshipmen from the Naval Academy to portray the Masquerade Men. The midshipmen deserve praise for their professionalism and grace, as well as appreciation for the handsome note they contributed to the production.

To remain faithful to Stoker's novel, the company should have dispatched Dracula with a wooden stake through the heart instead of a knife and, for authenticity, it could have used a few crucifixes to frighten the vampire. The use of smoke was effective on stage, but it poured out into the auditorium, bothering many in the front rows and sending some to the back of the theater.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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