The Daily Gamecock

'Dracula: Ballet with a Bite' prepares to captivate Columbia for its 24th season

In the spirit of Halloween, Columbia City Ballet is presenting “Dracula: Ballet with a Bite,” a performance of Bram Stoker's classic novel, Friday and Saturday at the Koger Center for the Arts.  

This year marks the ballet's 24th annual performance, and Columbia City Ballet’s executive and artistic director William Starrett is still aiming to keep the production “cutting edge.” 

“I keep changing and updating it every year," Starrett said. "You don’t want it to feel like the ‘80s.” 

Starrett, who choreographs and directs “Dracula: Ballet with a Bite,” said he was encouraged to create the ballet by a dance company in Savannah, Georgia, and loved the creative process. 

Now in his 33rd year as a ballet director, Starrett has directed dozens of performances, both original pieces and classics. Among his upcoming shows are "The Nutcracker," "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast" and the premiere of "The Great Gatsby." 

“Dracula” tells the tale of Jonathan Harker, an Englishman lured to Transylvania by Count Dracula, a vampire with evil intentions. Harker escapes only to have his daughter kidnapped by the antagonist. Harker, along with others, then embarks on the quest to save her.

“You have to come see the ballet to see what happens at the end,” Starrett said. 

The story line is not the only mystery to be revealed at the show. Though Starrett admitted songs from the band Muse will be played, the rest of the music for this year’s production is a secret saved for the audience. 

“It’s a big surprise," Starrett said. "But it’s real current."

To lend to the thrilling festivities, the ballet itself is accompanied by a charity event called “Gala with a Bite,” which will take place after the show Friday in “Dracula’s Dungeon" and will feature a silent auction, entertainment and food. In tandem with the Saturday night performance, there will be a costume contest with prizes including $100 cash. 

Bo Busby, a principal dancer at the Columbia City Ballet, will be playing the role of Arthur Holmwood for his fourth consecutive season. Busby said the Columbia community looks forward to the annual performance of Dracula as much as most Americans look forward to the Christmas classic “The Nutcracker.”  

“It’s not your average ballet," Busby said. "It’s very, I don’t know, hip and cool.”

Even for those unfamiliar with the art of ballet, Starrett said the familiar story line, modern music and sexy scenes make for a fun show anyone will enjoy. 

“I think it’s just really relatable. Everyone loves vampires,” Starrett said. 

Tickets for the show are available through the Koger Center’s website, over the phone and at the box office. Students are eligible for a $12 discounted ticket if they attend the Friday night performance.