SOMETIMES you can see a work that is so “en pointe” that you wonder why it took until now to be staged.
Such is the case with WA Ballet’s world premiere season of Dracula, where the stars aligned for the perfect collaboration of creatives and dancers to present a neoclassical ballet with intensity and one hell of a bite.
Artistic director Aurelien Scannella has shared his long desire to revisit the Bram Stoker’s gothic classic with his ballet company after dancing as the vampire earlier in his career.
He could not have chosen someone more ideal to fulfil his dream than highly acclaimed Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor, who has made movement magic.
The love story that spans 400 years takes more inspiration from the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula than the novel, including the dark, haunting score performed by WA Symphony Orchestra, composed for the film by Wojciech Kilar and arranged by company music co-ordinator Michael Brett from the storyline by dramaturge Pawel Chynowski.
WA Ballet fans who have always wished they had the opportunity to see Scannella dance live are in luck for select performances to see him return to the stage for the first time in 10 years (by request from Pastor) in the role of Old Count Dracula, which he did for opening night at His Majesty’s Theatre on September 6.
While Scannella executed the role with menace and precision, it was Matthew Lehmann as formidable force Young Count Dracula who seduced the audience with Dracula’s bloodlust and tortured soul.
Both of their transformations are incredible, as is that of Melissa Boniface during Lucy Westenra’s decent into vampirism.
Recently appointed to demi-soloist, Carina Roberts’ footwork had her seemingly floating across the floor with ease in her two-part role, struggling between her devotion to Jonathan (super-talented Oscar Valdes) as Mina and the tragic Elizabeth, Dracula’s lost love.
The costume and set design team behind WA Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels, returned to not only make an exquisite array of costume finery (with an occasional hint of nudity) but, in collaboration with Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production department, sets that sweep you away to London’s high society, Transylvanian doom and Dr Seward’s mental asylum with a clever use of straightjacket straps.
So transfixed by the events on stage, breathing for the audience seemed optional by the final desperate moments.
Dracula is definitely a ballet you will want to sink your teeth in to and is showing at His Majesty’s Theatre until September 22.