It’s love at first bite for audiences with West Australian Ballet’s season of Dracula

'Dracula' WA Ballet Production 2018 -Photography © Jon Green 2018 - All Rights Reserved

West Australian Ballet’s Dracula premiered at His Majesty’s Theatre on 6 September.

The company’s artistic director Aurelien Scannella has taken the company to new heights during his tenure and this production sealed his commitment to excellence.

The former dancer’s experience, knowledge, creativity and enthusiasm continues to progress the company into a new realm.

One of his secrets is utilising ballet aficionados from across the globe which is ensuring the second most isolated city has a world class ballet company.

Dracula is choreographed by the highly awarded Krzysztof Pastor. He retired from dance in 1997 and has worked with Washington Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and many other renowned companies choreographing more than 50 productions including Don Giovanni, Do Not Go Gently and Dangerous Liaisons.

UK set and costume designers Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith who designed the costumes for the Nutcracker in 2016 returned to Perth to add their theatrical magic to the production.

These contributions create a recipe for success and from the opening scene the sets and costumes leave you breathless creating a magical setting for this dark tale to be told dramatically through dance.

After retiring from dance in 2008, Scannella debuts on the Perth stage to play the older Dracula, a feat in itself after 10 years away from dance.

I think his presence inspired the troupe as the precision demonstrated by the company was at its best.

One of the highlights was Mathew Lehmann’s young Dracula and Oscar Valdes’ Frederick dancing a ‘man’ tango together in the first act.

Carina Roberts who plays both Elizabeth and Mina, danced so well it seemed as if she floated across the stage, her pointe work, well bloody perfect.

The entire cast of dancers showed an advanced form of sleek dexterity throughout the production.

The music to accompany the production was from the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Judith Yan expertly conducted the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra through the hauntingly dark score.

Magnificent, complex and superbly tailored costumes capture the essence of the classic story but allow the dancers to move effortlessly.

The detail of Dracula’s cape, the ballerina’s many dresses and the complex male three piece suits depict the circa of the tale perfectly.

All the costumes were created locally by WA Ballet’s wardrobe team who made more than 150 pieces for the production.

The sets were also made locally in Belmont at a workshop which WA Ballet share with Black Swan State Theatre Company.

They include superb reconstructions of Dracula’s lair including bed and coffins, a huge wooden door to the castle, the mental asylum and an English stately home.

The work to present a ballet such as this is immense, and everyone connected with this production should be feeling proud, it is a visual feast.

Though a classic tale of horror, West Australian Ballet’s production of Dracula delves deeper and shows it as a sad tale of love and loss.

Dracula performs at His Majesty’s Theatre until 22 September.

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