Waves of creeping fog, ominous music and crimson lights transformed the Kendall Hall main stage to the vampire-invested Carfax Abbey. Craving a night of terror, and perhaps culture, students’ thirsts were quenched by the Roxey Ballet’s presentation of “Dracula” the ballet on Oct. 27.
The Lambertville-based contemporary ballet company mesmerized the crowd with an original re-staging of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” Featuring the choreography of Mark Roxey, a combination of original and other music, and extensive set and video projections, the ballet captured the simultaneously seductive and frightening story of Count Dracula and his victims.
The choreography of the production combined classical ballet with more inventive modern moves without sacrificing technique.
Dracula’s three wives, played by Janessa Cornell, Joanna DeFelice and Catherine Long, brilliantly accomplished this. The three maintained the graceful synchronization expected of Pointe dancers, yet much of their routines consisted of convulsive movement such as abstract extensions, split rolls on the floor and lifts in which they coiled around and fell from their partners in a snake-like manner.
Julia Cobble as Lucy, the latest victim of Dracula’s seduction, mastered the appearance of being under the Count’s control, abruptly flowing in and out of arabesques at his whim.
Though Dracula (Marc St-Pierre) was a vital presence in the duet that establishes Dracula’s control over Lucy, with flawlessly executed lifts, the amount of time he danced independently was disappointing given his role.
Although duets such as those between Dracula and Lucy, and Mina Harker (Evalina Carbonell) and Jonathan Harker (Jesus Pacheco) were perfectly coordinated, when all the couples danced simultaneously, their timing was consistently off, some instances more glaring than others.
Se-Yong Kim as R.M. Renfield, the first of Dracula’s victims who is initially deemed insane by his peers, exercised striking precision as he repeatedly fell and contorted himself in response to Dracula’s hypnosis. Impressive jumps and leaps while in a straight jacket flaunted Kim’s expertise.
In addition to tackling an unconventional topic for a ballet, the company boasted its innovative nature with its largely theatrical undertones.
According to the company’s Web site, the production “breaks through the normal boundaries of dance performance to draw the audience deeply into the world created by the dancers and the story.”
This was chiefly accomplished through each performer’s intense facial expressions, which conveyed a range of emotions. The performers communicated passion, fear, rage and sorrow with their entire bodies. The incorporation of the set, as well as props such as wooden crosses, garlic necklaces and hospital stretchers also aided in illustrating the story to the engaged audience.
“I thought it was amazing. The people were so talented. It was a really interesting ballet, definitely different from any ballet I’ve ever been to,” said Michelle Pinamonti, junior special education and Spanish major.
With the aid of dynamic lighting, fog, fangs and powerful music, the performers developed the plot without a sound, with the exception of hissing and the occasional blood-curdling scream.