Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Northern Ballet's Dracula and Mina!

A new Northern Ballet production sublimely marks the opening of West Yorkshire Playhouse's autumn season.  Based on Bram Stoker's timeless classic Dracula is interpreted in Quarry Theatre's intimate stage offering the audience a clear view with the production's maximum impact.  Northern Ballet, a Leeds based dance company, is renowned for their contemporary interpretations on a wide range of stories and subjects that appeal to  diverse audiences.  

 Northern Ballet's Dracula
Photo credit: Merlin Hendy (accessed from

David Nixon, artistic director and choreographer, emphasises the love shared between Dracula and Mina in the production and his aim is for the audience to specially remember this!  Yes, Dracula is a Gothic tale and is vampiric in every sense with Count's blood thirsty seduction however it is different with Mina Murray.  Mina becomes his desirable object and has this longing with which he leaves his castle in Transylvania to go where she is.  It is evident the love Dracula has for her transcends universally through the contrasting boundaries metaphorically.  He tries resisting but more he tries the more he is drawn to her.  This gives one food for thought what one would do to be totally free in order to meet their needs and desires.

Mina appears to have the typical complete life with secular ambitions and engaged to Jonathan Harker (danced by Jeremy Curnier) however her encounters with Dracula crave her longing for him. Like the Count, she fights for morality's and society's sake but their unrequited love proves too strong.  Their feelings are expressed beautifully and passionately by Giuliano Contadini's and Hannah Bateman's dancing.  They express physically their love through their moving duets and brief encounters throughout the ballet.  The highlight is Act 2 Love scene where the helpless Mina and exhausted Dracula reconcile and thoroughly pour out their soulful and deep yearning for one another after exchanging each others blood.  The beautiful dark Pärt's music enhances and intensifies their desire to be together forever!

The eclectic music chosen for Dracula, compiled by Michael Popov, interprets the Gothic story beautifully and dramatically.  The music includes works from Schnittke, Rachmaninov, Pärt and Daugherty.  Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances seductively accompanies Dracula pursuing Lucy (danced by Antoinette Brooks-Daw) and feeding upon her and emphasising his dark and vampire's desires.

The Victorian dark ambiguous sets, designed by Ali Allen, are merged with the dim and appropriate rays of lighting, designed by Tim Mitchell.  The staging certainly creates the atmospheric Gothic feel for this incredible production.  The periodic costumes, designed by Nixon, portray the characters personalities and society they lived in at the time.  

Dracula emotively reaches out to those in the audience and for them to be moved with the love Dracula and Mina shares just what Nixon hopes for.  It feels this love between both of them will live on forever with or without the boundaries.  A talented cast gave a memorising and unforgettable performance being lead by the company's ambitious soloists and coryphées.
Dracula is playing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 13th September 2014.

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