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Dracula - he's back!


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#1 Golden Gate

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 12:41 PM

They've done it again... and it's still as great as it ever was. Colorado Ballet's opening night for Dracula was great - everyone was excited, there was an electric tension in the air, and fog on the stage... and for the first time in a very long time, an orchestra playing the score - which improved the production immensely! It still gives me such a thrill.
I've seen Dracula many times, but this was my favorite. John Henry Reid portrayed the evil Count Dracula, and even though it was his first time as the vampire... he did an excellent job. It is not, however, his first time as the bad guy in a "Michael Pink/Lez Brotherston/Philip Feeney" production. He danced as Frollo in every single one of last season's 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' shows for CB - and was very good at that. Wondering if he'll be typecast in the future as the bad guy everyone loves to hate...
Maria Mosina was perfect as Mina Harker... as usual, and Chandra Kuykendall is my favorite Lucy. There are only 5 shows (there were 6 at one time, but the Sunday eve show was cancelled months ago), so don't miss it - especially since the music is the only live thing anywhere near the stage... ha ha ha... just kidding. Vampire joke. But definitely a must see - again.

:P :)

#2 YouOverThere

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 03:29 PM

They've done it again... and it's still as great as it ever was. Colorado Ballet's opening night for Dracula was great - everyone was excited, there was an electric tension in the air, and fog on the stage... and for the first time in a very long time, an orchestra playing the score - which improved the production immensely! It still gives me such a thrill.
I've seen Dracula many times, but this was my favorite. John Henry Reid portrayed the evil Count Dracula, and even though it was his first time as the vampire... he did an excellent job. It is not, however, his first time as the bad guy in a "Michael Pink/Lez Brotherston/Philip Feeney" production. He danced as Frollo in every single one of last season's 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' shows for CB - and was very good at that. Wondering if he'll be typecast in the future as the bad guy everyone loves to hate...
Maria Mosina was perfect as Mina Harker... as usual, and Chandra Kuykendall is my favorite Lucy. There are only 5 shows (there were 6 at one time, but the Sunday eve show was cancelled months ago), so don't miss it - especially since the music is the only live thing anywhere near the stage... ha ha ha... just kidding. Vampire joke. But definitely a must see - again.

:P :)


This was my 7th time, and maybe it's starting to get a little stale for me. Of course, I only got 3 hours sleep Wednesday night, so maybe it was just me. But I haven't ruled out going to see it one more time.

I thought that John Henry Reid did a great job. He seems to be on his way up at the CB, and his performance would seem to justify that. He is smaller than the other men who have played the infamous count, so he played Dracula more as a kind of sly, slinky villain rather than as the physically intimidating creature that, say, Igor Vassine did.

I know it's kind of bad manners to be critical, but I wasn't impressed by Chandra Kuykendall. I thought she seemed stiff and mechanical, and didn't do a very good job of acting like a vulnerable young woman. But I overheard a woman (who apparently is a dance instructor) say (approximately) "Chandra has a fantastic turn-out and her extension is wonderful. She's my favorite." So I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Chauncey Parsons is my favorite Jonathan Harken. I thought that Maria Mosina was rather subdued last night. In the past I've felt that the show was as much about Mena Harken as about Dracula, but last night Dracula dominated.

GG, I noticed that the program didn't mention what Gregory Gonzalez (he was brought back to play von Helsing) is doing now. He left the CB pretty quietly a few years ago, and I've never heard where he went? Do you know what he's doing?

Haven't they always had a live orchestra for Dracula?

#3 carbro

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 03:45 PM

GG, I noticed that the program didn't mention what Gregory Gonzalez (he was brought back to play von Helsing) is doing now. He left the CB pretty quietly a few years ago, and I've never heard where he went? Do you know what he's doing?

I just did a very quick websearch and could find nothing recent for any Gregory Gonzalez. I would remind folks to please remember that only "official news" is permitted -- that is, with a citation (link, if possible) to a reputable source. Thanks for your cooperation. :)

#4 YouOverThere

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 03:50 PM

I did go back. Same cast, different result. This time I could really sink my teeth into it. I found Chandra Kuykendall to be quite effective. Perhaps the first time I was comparing her to my memory of previous performances rather than judging her on what she did. And she is tall (I believe the tallest woman in the CB), which isn't always the best for portraying someone who is supposed to be young. The fact that I had a seat that actually faced the stage didn't hurt, either (the Ellie Caukins Opera House has seats that face the wall on the other side of the theatre!!!). Maria Mosina was in fine form, but again John Henry Reid stole the show. The music had a little more bite where I sat this time as well (one would have hoped that the acoustics in an opera house would be undead).

I again saw Gil Boggs. I thought about saying "It's a 10", but a 10 is something like a sextuple bogey, which usually results in someone throwing their golf clubs into the lake.

#5 Amy'sMom

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Posted 25 October 2006 - 05:06 PM

Rocky Mountain News has a short news video online featuring a behind the scenes look at Colorado Ballet's Dracula: Dracula Video
Scroll down to "Recent Staff Videos" and click on "Dracula's Secrets Revealed".

#6 Golden Gate

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:40 AM

Haven't they always had a live orchestra for Dracula?


-no, the last time it was done (04-05) it was recorded. I have the rehearsal CD - although for the life of me I can't figure out why, it's not really anything pleasant to listen to what with the knocking and screaming and everything - really it's just not the same without the count in your face.


I again saw Gil Boggs. I thought about saying "It's a 10", but a 10 is something like a sextuple bogey, which usually results in someone throwing their golf clubs into the lake.


Just crawled up off the floor, fell off my chair laughing at that... VERY funny... I wonder if he'd appreciate that one. I certainly did. :wink:


--I saw two shows, the second on Saturday night, it was not as good as Thursday (opening night)... everyone was a bit off, but still, I was glad to see it. CB did the usual 'costume contest' for the patrons and one of the couples; third place, excited the crowd into a frenzy when the gentleman got on his knee and asked his lady friend to marry him - and of course she said yes. What else could she say on stage at the opera house in front of 1400 people? This is the second proposal I've seen CB assist with - it's very nice.

...let's see what Gil does with Nutcracker.... not sure if they'll use Martin's choreography this year or not.

#7 YouOverThere

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Posted 27 October 2006 - 03:12 PM

Now for my guilty secret. I went back to see Dracula again on
Sunday. It's getting difficult to keep a Count of how many times I've seen it,
but I think that makes 9 (is there a little Renfield in me?). Which means that
I've seen 9 different variations of the "Tea Dance" scene. How do they manage
to re-arrange it for every performance?

I managed to make it to my seat just as it started, despite the best efforts
of the box office. It drives me batty how slow they are. Ten minutes elapsed
between the time the person in front of me stepped up to the window and the
time I actually possessed a ticket. Maybe it was because it was a matinee and
the ticket sellers were weakened by the sunlight.

The cast was a little reVamped this time (which is why I wanted to see it
again), with Igor Vassine as Dracula, Maria Mosina shifting over to Lucy,
Sharon Wehner stepping in as Mina Harker, and Koichi Kubo recovering enough of
his sanity to step up from Renfield to Jonathan Harker. All 4 have been in the
CB for at least a decade, and Wehner and Kubo have been paired together
for most of that time. Their familiarity with each other was evident.

I like Mosina better as Lucy than as Mina. Her dance in the "Crypt" scene was
stunning (if she had danced like that as Giselle, it would have been Giselle's
mother rather than Giselle who had the heart attack :wallbash: ). Wehner is (IMHO) the
definitive Mina. Kubo did a better job of acting like someone who had been
drugged in the "Castle" scene than have some of the other Harkers. All-in-all,
this is my favorite cast (it's the second time I've seen this particular
foursome), but I miss Andrew Thompson as Renfield.

I was a bit curious about something that I observed during the curtain calls,
though maybe it was purely coincidental. Maria Mosina always stayed a step
behind Sharon Wehner. Was it intentional, or did it just happen that way? Or
maybe they always do it that way and I just never noticed. At one point Mosina
even extended her arm towards Wehner in what seemed to be the same kind of
gesture that the leading man typically makes when the lead ballerina steps
forward to take her bow. Maybe she just acknowledging the audience and it was
just by coincidence that her arm happened to point in the direction of
Wehner. But it caught my attention.

The curtain calls were also a little muddled when some official came on stage
and gave some sort of gift to the orchestra conductor. I saw in Wednesday's
The Denver Post that the conductor is retiring from the CB, so that
must have been the motivation, but they could have at least stuck some sort of
announcement in the program so that the audience would know what was going on.

#8 fandango

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 09:59 PM

Help me out here, you who love Dracula.

I saw it once a few years ago and did not go back this year. I was put off by dissonant music, sharp movements, and violence and seem to be missing something from others' comments.

What is it that you like so much? Music? Acting? Story? What?

#9 YouOverThere

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:56 PM

Help me out here, you who love Dracula.

I saw it once a few years ago and did not go back this year. I was put off by dissonant music, sharp movements, and violence and seem to be missing something from others' comments.

What is it that you like so much? Music? Acting? Story? What?


I'd have to say that for me it's the music and the story. And the atmosphere. Dracula is very much theatre (I think that Michael Pink calls it "dance theatre" rather than ballet). The music and lighting effects really capture me emotionally (I really like the music, and even bought a CD). It has much more plot and more sophisticated characters than most ballets. But I can see why sophisticated ballet fans might not be big fans of Dracula. The choreography isn't terribly challenging. There aren't any opportunities for virtuoso solos for the women. Even Dracula is constrained by the weight of the costume (20 lbs.!). But Dracula isn't "dumbed down" to specifically appeal to unsophisticated audiences, like Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake is. It's just a fun thing that I can lose myself in.

#10 Golden Gate

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 02:14 PM

Help me out here, you who love Dracula.

I saw it once a few years ago and did not go back this year. I was put off by dissonant music, sharp movements, and violence and seem to be missing something from others' comments.

What is it that you like so much? Music? Acting? Story? What?



Hey Fandango!

...well, I know we're way past this, time-wise... but it's been busy. Here we go... for me personally, it's a combination of serious passion for theatre (this is definitely theatre meets ballet), an even deeper devotion to ballet, and I'm a big fan of the triumvirate that put this together (Michael Pink/Philip Feeney and Lez Brotherston), I love most of CB's dancers, and the story... ahhh the story. It is taken almost metaphorically verbatim from the novel by Bram Stoker. They stayed very true to the 'written word', when it was created. It is all about the experience... the combination of all of the above, finding oneself in the dark and drawn into the story, the performance, and the mystery. The dancing is somewhat muted, but as far as generalities go, it was never all about the dance; it's about a dramatic production, and dance is merely the vehicle by which it is presented... there is a thrill about it, an excitement in the struggle between good and evil. And then, for me personally... there is the dancing.
Some of my favorite choreography on the stage is in this production. The pas de deux between Dracula and Jonathon Harker is extremely intense and very challenging. It borders on sensual, dark, forbidden, it's nucleus is an insatiable lust for life blood... and fear, and panic... and seduction - not a sexual seduction, but one much more imperative, the seduction of Jonathon's very soul- the seduction of good by evil, it's really an edge of your seat, breathless scene. The challenge is not in technique so much, although there are some tricky steps, and timing is of course, important... but rather in the execution of the drama and emotion. If it isn't danced precisely- if the dancers don't 'become' Dracula and Jonathon... it's totally lost. This company does a killer job with it. The other dance scene that I love from this show is - (...and please forgive this unusual perspective) the scene in which Renfield escapes his room at the hospital and goes to see Mina Harker. There is a brief and strange pas de deux between the two, the coolest part of which is that Renfield is barefoot and bound in a straight jacket. When danced at it's best (thank you tremendously Andrew Thompson) it is quite a sight to behold, to see Mina and Renfield dance together this way, it's tough enough doing a pas de deux with slippers and 4 limbs... but barefoot and tied? Yah... one of my favorites. I never saw a dancer interact more carefully with his partner and still pull off the act as when Andrew did this role. If one is watching closely and understands anything about dance and balance... the appreciation is immediate.
I very much enjoy getting caught up in the whole experience, that's what makes it so great... the delicate combination of all of the aspects, and if any one of them was gone, or different, it wouldn't be even remotely as good as it is.

However, for someone who doesn't like dark stories... no good. don't go. The enjoyment of a bit of the darker side is a prerequisite for this one. I think your preferences have a tendency to go toward the more romantic and tragic than this would offer - a true lover of classics and not contemporary so much, and my friend, I don't think you would like it... no matter how interesting I try to make it sound. :(

We desperately need lovers of classics to keep them alive in the face of the gradual transition into more popular contemporary and modern dance... but maybe the classics aren't in quite as much danger of being lost as I fear... as long as there are little girls, there will be princess ballerinas. Amen.
:(

#11 YouOverThere

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Posted 29 November 2006 - 08:40 PM

The pas de deux between Dracula and Jonathon Harker is extremely intense and very challenging... The other dance scene that I love from this show is - (...and please forgive this unusual perspective) the scene in which Renfield escapes his room at the hospital and goes to see Mina Harker. There is a brief and strange pas de deux between the two.


Ditto! Especially the Mina/Renfield dance. I haven't seen anything else quite like it, especially when Andrew Thompson danced the role of Renfield.

Overall, in my limited dance-watching experience, Dracula differs from the other dance programs that I've seen in that it's story-oriented and ensemble-oriented rather than dance-oriented and solo-oriented. Since I'm not knowledgeable enough about the techniques of dancing, this sort of thing is enjoyable for me, but I can see that a serious dance fan might miss the seeing the challenging solos.


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