Dracula’s appeal – his sex appeal even! – never seems to fade.
Ballet, too, has succumbed to the call of Dracula; and now you have the chance to spend a few hours in his company as the BBC includes Northern Ballet’s Dracula in his Dance Season 2020.
Under David Nixon’s directorship, Northern Ballet specialises in narrative works, with the aim of telling stories through dance to audiences far and wide. This cinema relay of Dracula, as it’s being performed live in Northern Ballet’s hometown of Leeds, marks the first live broadcast for the company; and is an important step in that direction.
Northern Ballet’s Dracula is very much David Nixon’s creature: he not only created and choreographed the work, but also designed its spectacular costumes. The ballet’s gothic sets are by Ali Allen and the all-important lighting design by Tim Mitchell.
Nixon’s idea was to focus on the ambiguity of the character. His Dracula is not a wholly evil vampire, but rather a more nuanced creature, one capable of love. As Nixon puts it, ‘All creatures need to be loved and the love that Dracula shares with Mina transcends the boundaries of good and evil.’.
The plot closely follows Bram Stoker’s original: Count Dracula, danced by Javier Torres, travels from his Transylvanian home to England after becoming entranced by a vision of Mina Murray, the young fiancée of Jonathan Harker. Though Dracula terrorises the town where she lives, Mina realises she is powerless to resist him, and their mutual attraction sets in motion a sequence of bloody events.
Northern Ballet’s Dracula is set to an atmospheric collage of music by Alfred Schnittke, Sergei Rachmaninov, Arvo Pärt, and Michael Daugherty.
The ballet’s complex characters offer plenty of scope for Northern Ballet's superb dramatic dancers and they perform its graphic scenes with relish.
As The Observer critic put it when reviewing Dracula on an earlier outing, ‘those in search of heaving bosoms, unlaced bodices and neck-biting will not leave disappointed.’
Age Guidance: 12+
|What||Northern Ballet, Dracula, BBC Four|
01 Apr 20 – 01 May 20, 19:30 Dur.: 1 hour 40 minutes