Choreography by Michael Pink
Music by Philip Feeney
Staging by Nadia Thompson
Production Design by Lez Brotherston
Lighting Design by David Grill
Jonathan Harker’s mind is flooded with images of his terrifying experiences in Transylvania… in his delirium, his ravings have been dreadful – of wolves and poison and blood, of ghosts and demons.
Charing Cross Station, London
Mina and Dr. Van Helsing accompany Harker to the station as he sets off on his journey to see Count Dracula in Transylvania, where he is to conclude the Count’s purchase of properties in England. A mental patient, Renfield, being escorted through the station, causes a disturbing incident.
Harker arrives in Transylvania, where he watches as villagers enact a violent ritual of sacrifice to protect their village from the dangers that threaten on All Souls Night. The ceremony is interrupted by a sinister figure, Count Dracula’s coachman. Despite the desperate appeal of a bereaved woman, Harker continues his journey to Dracula’s castle.
i) Arrival ii) Vampires iii) Dracula & Harker
The Count welcomes Harker into his home and, having made him comfortable, withdraws. Harker sinks into a reverie and is visited by three women who both fascinate and terrify him. His seduction is interrupted by an enraged Count Dracula who distracts the vampire women with a live blood offering. Dracula now begins his domination of the helpless Harker. As the climax of their union approaches, Harker’s scream of terror wakes him from his nightmare, and he finds himself in the sanatorium with his wife’s arms around him.
Winter Garden at the Grand Hotel, Whitby
At a Tea Dance in the Grand Hotel, Mina’s friend Lucy dances with her suitors, while unbeknownst to them, a Russian ship approaches with a sinister and dangerous cargo. Only Harker is sensitive to the impending danger. A violent storm interrupts the dance, breaking open the windows, and at the height of its fury, the figure of Dracula appears on the terrace. The hotel guests are unaware of his presence, but Lucy is drawn to him. As the sound of the storm returns, Dracula disappears, and Lucy is discovered dazed and almost unconscious.
Lucy is taken to Dr. Van Helsing’s clinic where her anxious fiancé and her friends visit her. As they leave from the night, Van Helsing, who has noticed the strange puncture marks on Lucy’s neck, takes the precaution of surrounding her with wild garlic. This does not prevent a second visit from Count Dracula. Later that night, Lucy’s body is discovered on the floor of her bedroom. The heartbroken men grieve the loss of this beautiful young woman. As her fiancé places a crucifix on her lips, Lucy attacks him violently before escaping into the night. She has become Nosferatu, one of the undead.
Mina, alone in the sanatorium, thinks of the terrible danger that is hovering over them all. After the departure of the men, she and Van Helsing are startled by the escaped mental patient, Renfield, who attacks Van Helsing and draws blood before being overpowered by the wardens. Concerned for Renfield’s suffering, Mina tries in vain to comfort and understand him. As she waits anxiously for the return of the men, she imagines with horror what her friend Lucy has become.
The men fail in their attempt to find Count Dracula, but later that night, as Harker sleeps, the Count enters Mina’s room. Van Helsing discovers them as Dracula suckles Mina with his own lifeblood. Van Helsing has no power to prevent the Count from escaping and taking an unconscious Mina with him.
Count Dracula has chosen to celebrate his union with Mina in the vault at Carfax Abbey. His heartbeat is the pulse that summons the Nosferatu to the ceremony. Renfield has become the sacrifice, and it is his blood that links the undead as they dance in adoration of their master. As the celebrants prepare for the consummation of the ritual, an explosion blasts through the crypt, and daylight floods into the vault.
Dracula can withstand the light, but his power is diminished. His adversaries pursue him and finally drive a stake through his heart. The survivors are left to come to terms with their experiences.
PROGRAM NOTES BY MICHAEL PINK
Dracula was first performed in 1996 and like its principal protagonist, it still retains the power to intoxicate and capture the imagination like no other. One of the interesting aspects of restaging this production is the fact that there are many new dancers for whom this is their first time encountering the Count. It is an opportunity to work with them to develop their understanding of what makes a performance that is compelling and believable.
As this production was being developed in 1996 we considered many different illusions and stage effects which we thought would be required to make the show work. With each effect came restrictions on staging and lighting and cost factors that made them prohibitive. In the end, we placed our trust in the power of the audience’s imagination. I believe this is a major contributing factor to the show’s enduring success. Its power to attract new audience goers to the world of dance also continues to have its effect. As I continue to stage this work I am perhaps pleased by one thing more than any other, and that is its ability to change the fortunes of a Company by challenging and developing the stereotypical perceptions of what ballet is.
Kansas City Ballet Premiere: February 21, 2014, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts