It's the ballet with bite – Dracula, based on the legendary Bram Stoker novel of 1897 – and it’s coming to the West Yorkshire Playhouse next month.
With darkly Gothic sets and costumes, Northern Ballet is resurrecting its adaptation of the classic horror story, last performed by the company in 2009.
Created by Northern Ballet’s artistic director David Nixon OBE, whose choreography and costume designs are complemented by Ali Allen’s sets, the ballet can be seen from September 5 to 13.
According to David, who has been artistic director since 2001, the story behind Dracula is a blend of horror and sensuality and poses many questions. He explains: “The popularity of Bram Stoker’s Dracula has not only outlived its author but also gained popularity and many new interpretations. What would you give to live forever rather than facing the unknown of death? To what ends are we prepared to let our bonds of friendship and love take us? These are among the questions that fascinated me when I approached the ballet.
“Dracula is often viewed as an evil, preying character, but he knows love and will act upon it. All creatures need to be loved and Dracula is no exception, the love he shares with Mina transcends the boundaries of good and evil.”
The tale of love and immortality is accompanied by stirring music from four composers, Russians Rachmaninov and Alfred Schnittke; contemporary Estonian Arvo Part; and American Grammy award winner Michael Daugherty.
After the performance on Friday, September 12, a 30-minute talk on the company and production will be delivered by a member of the artistic team. Leeds Central Library is also hosting a free Gothic Evening on Wednesday, August 27, for those eager to learn more about Dracula and the era in which it was written. Tickets are essential and can be booked through the Northern Ballet website, www.northernballet.com
Leeds-based Northern Ballet’s company of 40 dancers is one of the busiest in the UK and is typically on the road for around half the year. It is one of the country’s five large ballet companies.
Dracula – the myths
According to the Romanian National Tourist Office, ‘tales of the supernatural had been circulating in Romanian folklore for centuries when Irish writer Bram Stoker picked up the thread and spun it into a tale of ghoulishness that has never been out of print since its first publication in 1897. To research his immortal tale, Stoker immersed himself in the history, lore and legends of Transylvania, which he called a ‘whirlpool for the imagination’.’
The character Dracula is based on Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who was the ruler of Walachia in Romania at various times from 1456-1462.
Bram Stocker never visited Romania but described historical places there, including the 14th century town of Sighisoara where visitors today can see the house in which Vlad was born.
Interestingly, Dracula the novel was only published in Romanian for the first time in 1990.