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Dracula


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#1 Tessa

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 05:50 PM

So, anyone planning to attend Dracula? I have to admit, I have been intrigued by the way in which the company has chosen to market this ballet. There are some interesting events planned- an audience costume contest, a costume ball, and I think a character brunch. The last time PA Ballet did this production it was in the spring, so I imagine they are capitalizing on the Halloween timing this year.

However, a friend of mine (a theater guy who knows I love ballet) mentioned to me in passing that he thought the ad campaign for Dracula was terrible. I asked him what he was referring to and he said the radio ads say, "Dracula: it's like Phantom of the Opera but with pointe shoes!"

He thought this was silly because Dracula is probably a better known story than Phantom of the Opera and it might also confuse people into thinking that the Dracula ballet (this is the Ben Stevenson version) follows the Phantom storyline...I thought about what he said, and though I didn't think it was quite such a bad tagline as he did, I came up with a question of my own- do you think the average non-ballet person knows what "pointe shoes" are? Is this common parlance? Or would "ballet slippers" perhaps be a more recognizable term?

Just wondering...anybody else have any thoughts on this campaign?

#2 GWTW

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 07:21 PM

This will be my first halloween in the US - my first halloween ever actually - and I thought that the scheduling of Dracula was so timely that I'm surprised to hear that it was previously performed in Spring. I mean you can't get away from haunted houses, haystack rides and witches - and the advertising thereof - at this time of year. So I think it's very clever marketing on PA Ballet's part.
On the other hand, I'm with your friend, Tessa, about the tag line. There is nothing less likely to pull me into the theatre than that tag line for Dracula. I'm not a huge musical fan and certainly not of the Andrew Lloys Webber variety - assuming of course that the tagline referred to the musical and not to Gaston Leroux's novel or the Lon Chaney movie (I'll admit that I had to look those names up before writing this :D ) But then, neither I nor most other ballet alerters are targeted by these ad campaigns.
I will probably give Dracula a miss and save up for The Nutcracker, but I'm not sure that's connected to the ad campaign at all. Buffy defeated Dracula and I get my vampire fix on "Angel" every Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the WB. :blink:
Seriously, I've never seen Balanchine's "Nutcracker" and in the (probable) event I have to choose between the two, my choice is clear.
I'd like to hear about Dracula though - how did you like it last time, Tessa?

#3 carbro

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Posted 19 October 2003 - 07:25 PM

Tessa, I agree that the tag line could be confusing/misleading (although both stories share a Gothic atmosphere), but I think "pointe shoes" is a generally recognized term.

And, yes, scheduling the ballet to coincide with Halloween and tying in costume events is very clever marketing.

#4 Tessa

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Posted 22 October 2003 - 08:37 AM

GWTW,
Eh, I don't mean to knock it exactly but Stevenson's Dracula really is a big honking spectacle. Huge sets, flying people, horse drawn carriages, etc. Actually, the "Like the Phantom of the Opera" tag might be meant to demonstrate how it's a similar level of spectacle to that musical. There are some good scenes, but overall it's not my favorite ballet. Like you, I will probably miss it and go to Nutcracker instead (I dearly love PA Ballet's Nutcracker and am excited to see all the new company members in some of the roles.)

#5 Doris R

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Posted 02 November 2003 - 08:15 AM

Okay, I was there this weekend, on Halloween night and again Saturday afternoon. Honestly, I was prepared to not enjoy it, but in fact I did. Perhaps not the best choreographically, but it was FUN! The house really got into it, not just on Halloween night with several Draculas and other creatures in the seats, but again during the matinee with many senior citizen subscribers present.

There was a woman seated in front of us who brought her five-year-old son Saturday. He was completely mesmerized with the show. She commented during intermission that she was pleased with how well he was doing but didn't know if he'd make it through the next two acts, but he did! I think he may have nodded off a little during the third act, but he seemed to love the action and colors of the act II Village Scene. (And, No, I am not recommending everyone take their five-year-olds to the ballet, this child was exceptional.) There were several children in the audience at both performances however, and the activity on stage really seemed to hold their interest. The ladies seated around us on Saturday afternoon were also very happy with the performance, and chatted happily during intermission about different aspects of the performance.

Arantxa Ochoa danced Flora on Friday night and Svetlana on Saturday afternoon. Although I always enjoy her dancing, I think I preferred her as Svetlana, but I also enjoyed Dede Barfield's Svetlana on Friday night. Valerie Amiss danced Flora on Saturday afternoon and she even managed to make the third act variation with its rather strange choreography enjoyable to watch. She has such a beautiful expressive face. Jonathan Stiles was incredible as Renfield on Friday night as was James Ady as Fredrick. It was fun though on Saturday afternoon to watch the play between Arantxa as she danced Svetlana with her husband, Alexander Iziliaev dancing Fredrick. Both David Krensing (Friday) and James Ihde (Saturday) carried off the role of Dracula filling the stage with their presence and performance. (Of course the beautiful cape he wore made a statement on its own.)

There are three casts of principals. I did not get to see Eddie Cieslack as Dracula and Amy Aldridge as Svetlana who opened the show on Thursday night and performed Saturday night -- they are the couple pictured on the program and the posters.

The corps of brides was captivating, and the "folk dances" performed second act were lively and entertaining. Both the ribbon dance by the ladies, and the staff pounding and tossing by the men. And yes, the sets are massive and there is a coach, but for Dracula it works. It may not be classical ballet in the strict sense of the word -- but it is theater and fantasy and as I said -- FUN!

Its being performed again today, and next weekend too, if you're in the area check it out. :thumbsup:

#6 BW

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 06:11 AM

Thank you DorisR - we had hoped to make it down but, now, don't think we'll be able to - so it's especially nice to read your report! :thumbsup: B) I hope they'll be others who'll comment, as well.

#7 purelyballet

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 09:25 AM

I had the pleasure of seeing Pennsylvania Ballet for the first time this past weekend. I went to three performances of Dracula and I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised. I thought the ballet was wondeful and PA Ballet did a fabulous job with everything; the dancing, the costumes and the sets. I especially loved watching Valeria Amiss and Riolama. Both of these dancers are lovely and I am looking forward to seeing them in future productions.
I also agree that the corps did a fabulous job both in the ribbon dance as well as in their portrayal of Dracula's brides. And I for one loved the flying around the stage, the coach and all of the other special effects. My hats off to this fine company and to the marketing dept that was savvy enough to perform a ballet that I found very appropriate for the Halloween holiday. What a way to attract a new audience to the ballet.....KUDOS :)

#8 BW

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 11:06 AM

And thank you purelyballet for jumping in with both "feet" to post your views in your very first post! :) Now I am even more annoyed that I won't be seeing it because it sounds as though it was a great deal of fun and, no doubt, full of Draculean "humor". I wonder what Edward Gorey would have thought of Stevenson's ballet?

By the way, welcome to Ballet Alert's Ballet Talk! Take a look around at all the different forums and you might want to stop in at the official Welcome thread to introduce yourself if you have a chance, too.

#9 purelyballet

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Posted 06 November 2003 - 04:10 PM

Thanks for the welcome BW. I was turned onto this site by a dear friend and although I am very busy with my work, I try to go on from time to time and catch up with various companies.
For anyone in the Philly area, if you have not already been, you definitely should try and go to see Dracula. They still have performances tonight, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. I promise you will not be disappointed. I saw the ballet years ago performed by Houston and PA Ballet certainly did Ben Stephenson justice with their beautiful dancing and gorgeous costumes and sets.....I am back in Ca now, but if I were still in Philly I would certainly go back for more.


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