Auckland, The Bloody Ballet Is Back
Look Out Palmerston North
By Selwyn Manning
The chill of late winter just got a lot colder with the heart of Auckland’s art scene having fallen into the grip of a most sinister fiend – Dracula has been resurrected by the Royal New Zealand Ballet and it’s a performance of total emersion into the depths of Gothic folklore.
The Auckland Philharmonia interprets Philip Feeney’s score perfectly. This music weaves Romanian language and ancient French sounds into this experience. There are slow heartbeats, wrappings, howls and screams. Feeney tweaks that unease that rests deep within, offering a sensory foundation from which the dancers lure. It is hypnotic, swaying you to rhythms of Transylvanian folk music, contrasting with the cliché of Victorian England, and eventually envelopes you within The Count’s embrace.
Created by director Christopher Gable and choreographer Michael Pink, Dracula is performed within Olivier award-winning designer Lez Brotherston's set. And as New Zealand Ballet writes: his costumes are ingenious and thrillingly sensuous, complemented by Paul Pyant's eerie and supernatural lighting effects.
Passionate? The symbolism is palpable. Royal New Zealand Ballet’s performance conjures a voice within, a whisper’s shadow murmurs to the dancers’ mime. This is where innocence shares desire with the dark, where the dark offers an allurement for two hearts - one warm, one cold – appealing to become one. Once there, the space conceives a horror previously unrealized: a raw, honest, portrayal of dominion over fragility. There is no return.
Dracula enters and withdraws from room and scene with ease – a swirling mist providing an eerie veil. No one is left unaffected.
New Zealand Ballet brings this story to life in a way no movie could attempt. The dance is beautiful, graceful - disturbing in that the Gothicism conjures a dread that one wishes not to escape – cloaked within a misty lace of a time long ago.
The music, the dance, the characters, the storyteller draws the door closed behind his audience. It leads you through three acts from Charing Cross to Transylvania, to Dracula’s Castle; from the Grand Hotel at Whitby to the Sanatorium; from Mina’s room down into the darkness of Carfax Abbey’s vault where Count Dracula chooses to celebrate his union with Mina – his heartbeat calls the undead to witness.
This Bram Stoker tale is a classic in the good-overcomes-evil genre. And like all good horror-tales the end does not pass without trial but in a strange reunion where the only means of overcoming horror is with horror itself.
Aucklanders, don’t miss this performance. Royal New Zealand Ballet is on stage at The Civic until Sunday August 21. Click here to book for the Auckland shows.
Dracula heads to Palmerston North where it will be performed at the Regent on Broadway from August 26 – 28. Click here to book for the Palmerston North shows.