Metro Weekly

Vampire Barre

The Washington Ballet's latest is as much Broadway as ballet

”It’s been loosely referred to as the Rocky Horror Show of ballet,” jokes Michael Pink. ”It comes back and back again because it sells out. People adore it. It has that cult status.”

He’s referring to Dracula. Both Atlanta Ballet and Colorado Ballet have performed the ballet nearly six times in the past 13 years. Also a repeat performer is the Milwaukee Ballet, where Pink serves as artistic director.

Dracula Luis R. Torres and Maki Onuki in ''Dracula''

Dracula Luis R. Torres and Maki Onuki in ”Dracula”

(Photo by Steve Vaccariello)

Now the Washington Ballet has signed on to produce Pink’s dance adaptation of the famous novel by Bram Stoker, originally created by the U.K.’s Northern Ballet Theatre in celebration of the novel’s centenary in 1997. Pink notes that the novel is ”perfect for dance,” because it focuses on ”all the unspoken things” in its characters’ repressions and relationships. Plus, ”Dracula himself is a man of very few words.” Of course, still more appeal is found in the ”underlying homoerotic tension between” the count and his first victim, a young, innocent Englishman. ”All of those are great things to tell in nonverbal theater.”

”People come with a sense that it’s going to be a little bit funny, a little bit tongue-in-cheek,” he adds, ”with fangs and blood and large breasts, which you don’t always see in ballet.” And yet, Pink says, ”We decided that the fangs and the blood should be kept to a minimum.”

In addition to Pink’s choreography, Dracula features original, frenzied music composed by Philip Feeney, elaborate sets and costumes by Lez Brotherston and dramatic lighting by Paul Pyant.’

A British native who trained as a classical dancer at the Royal Ballet School, Pink jokes that, ”I think I took a wrong turn when I was a child [since] I always wanted to be in theater. It’s why all of my productions are very theatrical.”

Speaking of Dracula in particular, Pink says, ”It’s the kind of production that you would probably think more Broadway than ballet because it’s more substantial.”

The Washington Ballet’s Dracula runs to Nov. 4 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $25 to $125. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org or washingtonballet.org.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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