The Daily Gamecock

South Carolina Ballet takes a 'bite' out of the Koger Center over Halloweekend

<p>Soloist Ashley Concannon poses for a studio portrait promoting Dracula. Dracula: Ballet With A Bite premiered Oct. 27, 2023, at the Koger Center in Columbia, S.C.</p>
Soloist Ashley Concannon poses for a studio portrait promoting Dracula. Dracula: Ballet With A Bite premiered Oct. 27, 2023, at the Koger Center in Columbia, S.C.

Attendees gathered their stakes, grabbed their garlic and marched down to the Koger Center over the weekend for the South Carolina Ballet’s performance of “Dracula: Ballet With A Bite.”

South Carolina Ballet, formerly known as Columbia City Ballet, performed the show on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, and dancers said it was a unique and engaging beginning to the week of Halloween.

"It's exciting. It's very sensual at parts with the vampires and scary in some ways, but it also just kind of makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance with them," Dylan Bacon, a company dancer, said.

William Starrett, the CEO and artistic director of South Carolina Ballet, created "Dracula: Ballet With A Bite" in 1991 and has been directing it and keeping it modern ever since through changes to the music and choreography.

“The beats have gotten faster, and the music's more current, and it's gotten more provocative. And when I first did, I was maybe a little apprehensive (of) what were people going to say, and then people love how sexy it is and that it's for adults," Starrett said. "My job is to really keep the art form alive and current and vibrant and something for everyone."


Principal dancer Claire Rapp is lifted into the air during a performance of Dracula. This year's performance was held at the Koger Center in Columbia, S.C. over Halloween weekend on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28, 2023.

"Dracula: Ballet With A Bite" follows the narrative of the novel "Dracula," written by Bram Stoker, and is geared for a more mature audience. Ashley Concannon, a long-time soloist with the South Carolina Ballet, said the ballet is tailored to older individuals or those with parental consent 

Throughout the history of "Dracula: Ballet with a Bite," Concannon said, the ballet has changed and refined itself throughout the years. 

“It's very thrilling to watch. The blood gets better and better every year. We figure out different ways to manipulate it, which, it seems so silly, but it is such a moment that really stands out. And you remember if the blood spurts or if it just kind of trickles down, so it's those little details that we really started refining over the years,” Concannon said

Bacon, who plays one of Dracula's favorite wives, said that "Dracula: Ballet With A Bite" is a unique ballet that stays interesting and fun for every audience.

“'Dracula' is my favorite. It's just a little bit more exciting and different. It's nothing too classical, but you get a good mix of everything. It's definitely fun music and fun costumes and fun lighting," Bacon said.

Starrett said that for long-term ballet fans, this piece is consistently a hit, and for newcomers to ballet, it is a good place to start. Unlike most ballets, "Dracula: Ballet With A Bite" combines classical and originally-composed music with current, popular music

The performance is an attractive, seductive and intriguing story, according to Starrett, which makes it more unique in the genre. He said that "Dracula: Ballet With A Bite" includes both the gory and the seductive aspects of the original story in a clear and special way.

"The part about Dracula that intrigues me is that once you become a vampire, you get this incredible ability of seduction. So that that's part of what you inherit by being a vampire and that you can seduce your prey to come," Starrett said. "Yes, there's blood. Yes, there's violence. Yes, there's death. But there's also this amazing, seductive element that's really sexy and intriguing. So it's all of those things and it's Halloween. So that's the fun part," Starrett said.