The Daily Gamecock

Ballet Review: 'Dracula: Ballet with a Bite' is highly suspenseful and seductive

William Starrett’s “Dracula: Ballet with a Bite” certainly fits the title. Performed both Friday and Saturday night at the Koger Center for the Arts, it is a modern ballet — in a loose and seductive way — that maintains classical aspects, especially where fan-favorite Regina Willoughby was featured. The story itself is based on the novel by Bram Stoker in which a lawyer by the name of Jonathan Harker gets mixed up in dealings with Count Dracula. 

Act one introduces us to the town outside Castle Dracula and even though the play starts with an eerie trip through dark woods, that is soon forgotten in the townsfolk's daily routine. They dance about merrily like something out of a Disney movie, helping Harker find his way. Enter Castle Dracula and once again the grim reality of this tale sets in.

Immediately upon entrance, Dracula comes off to Harker as extremely creepy. If I had to pick one favorite dancer among the throng, Dracula portrayed by Leonardo Victorino would be the top pick. With his perfect composure and stunning cape, he exudes both lust and power and appears to be in complete control while remaining calm the entire time. Nothing goes by unnoticed and nothing is overly concerning to so powerful a man.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are Dracula’s minions. They move about at a frantic pace and seduce anyone in their path with moves that are quite provocative, particularly in contrast to the townsfolk. With the three maiden’s flirtatious moves and Dracula’s trusted servant Reinfield’s modern gyrations, you are thrust into Starrett’s version of ballet Dracula and unsure of whom you are actually cheering for at times.

After escaping the castle, modern meets classical as the vampires come to the village to capture and convert some of Harker’s family and friends. After some back and forth conflict, and some dramatic, bloody effects that I will not spoil, Harker and his family prevail against the Count.

In the end the ballet was not quite what I was expecting but still felt familiar. Starrett made it exactly what I wanted before I realized it myself.