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Royal NZ Ballet sinks its teeth into Dracula

16 June 2005

Ballet bites back: Royal NZ Ballet sinks its teeth into Dracula

Grab your crucifix and stock up on garlic: Count Dracula is returning to stake his claim on New Zealand audiences with a hugely popular retelling of Bram Stoker’s horror classic.

From the dark heart of Transylvania to the English seaside, Dracula charts a bloodthirsty course in his obsessive pursuit of Mina Harker.

Devilish dancing, a spine-tingling score, dark and brooding sets and spectacular stage effects feature in The Meridian Energy Season of Dracula, which tours Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Hastings, Auckland and Palmerston North during July and August.

Dracula is a piece of total theatre, a ballet that puts storytelling and movement on equal footing.

Says choreographer Michael Pink: “Classical dance depends on a clearly defined physical form. An actor, on the other hand, must find the motivation behind his character’s actions long before he begins working on text. He must create a reality before he discovers how to play his part.

“In Dracula, our goal was to merge these two art forms into a well-constructed and developed story. Luckily, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel is so rich in sexual tension and drama, that it seemed a natural for the type of work we wanted to achieve.” Dracula is the largest production the Royal New Zealand Ballet has toured in its 52- year history. It will take 20 people more than 20 hours to erect the immense set, which includes a sarcophagus, a 9.5 metre-high castle and mobile staircase. A convoy of four trucks will transport the creepy collection around the country. From busy railway station to crumbling asylum, frosty Transylvanian field to lavish

English winter garden, Lez Brotherston’s sets and costumes blend realism with Gothic fantasy. Paul Pyant’s supernatural lighting completes the eerie effect. Philip Feeney has woven Romanian language and ancient French sounds into his score, as well as effects such as slow heartbeats, howls and screams. To add to the atmosphere, Feeney has adopted the musical style of the location; the driving, hypnotic rhythms of Transylvanian folk music, the polite restraint of a Victorian tearoom.

Five years have passed since the Royal New Zealand Ballet last urged Kiwis to ‘go to the bloody ballet’ with a noisy marketing campaign.

Go they did: the show earned a cult following and gave the company’s box office a transfusion of fresh blood. Season sponsor Meridian Energy says it is delighted to renew its association with the Transylvanian terror. Meridian Energy Chief Executive Keith Turner says: “Back in 2000 when Meridian had its first association with Dracula, we weren’t sure whether it was a good idea to team up with a character known primarily as a blood-sucking villain.

Now, five years later and with a new generation of dancers on stage, we’re only too happy to go into partnership again with the evil count. “Bram Stoker’s Gothic masterpiece is not a story which one would normally expect to see on a dance stage, but in the hands of our national ballet company it is quite simply a smash hit. We know it will appeal to a wide range of people, and will again attract many who would not otherwise have considered going to the ballet,” he says.

The Meridian Energy Season of Dracula Wellington: Westpac St James Theatre 15-17 July & 19-23 July Featuring the NGC Wellington Sinfonia Adult $35 – $85+ Child $21 – $51 Book at Ticketek 04 384 3840 Christchurch: Isaac Theatre Royal 28-31 July In association with Adult $37.50 – $67.50 Child $22.50 – $40.50 Book at Ticketek 03 377 8899 Invercargill: Civic Theatre 5-7 August Adult $35 – $55 Child $21 – $33 Book at TicketDirect 03 211 1692 Hastings: Hawke’s Bay Opera House 11-13 August Adult $35 – $65 Child $21 – $39 Book at Ticketek 06 835 1059 Auckland: The Civic at THE EDGE® 17-21 August Featuring the Auckland Philharmonia Adult $35 – $85+ Child $21 – $51 Book at Ticketek 09 307 5000 Palmerston North: Regent on Broadway 26-28 August Adult $35 – $65 Child $21 – $39 Book at TicketDirect 0800 484 253 + Limited number of Inner Circle seats available at $120

Choreography and staging: Michael Pink Original concept and direction: Christopher Gable Music: Philip Feeney Design: Lez Brotherston Lighting: Paul Pyant Conductor: Gavin Sutherland (Auckland, Wellington only) A Northern Ballet Theatre Production In all venues other than Wellington and Auckland the company will perform to a recording by the NGC Wellington Sinfonia.


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