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Pittsburgh Ballet reminds us that before Twilight -- and after twilight -- there was Dracula

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF DUANE REIDER.
  • Photo courtesy of Duane Reider.

Before Edward and The Twilight Saga, before Louis and Lestat and Ann Rice's Vampire Chronicles, there was Dracula, the original vampire playboy. Not just a coldblooded killer, Dracula was a conqueror of women's hearts, killing some while turning many into his beautifully undead brides.

In choreographer Ben Stevenson's ballet version of Dracula (1997), to be performed Feb. 11-13 by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the lustful count is no less insatiable. In his castle overlooking the village, and already surrounded by 18 ravishing vampire brides, Dracula dispatches mad, bug-eating henchman Renfield to fetch him another, Flora.

Set in 19th-century Transylvania, the million-dollar, three-act production opens with Flora's abduction and seduction.

"Flora falls in love with Dracula in the ballet and is heartbroken when he moves on to his next victim, searching for a love he cannot find," says PBT soloist Eva Trapp, who dances the role in the Feb. 11 matinee.

Trapp and soloist Robert Moore, who dances the role of Dracula in that matinee, star in PBT's The Vampire Diaries, a web miniseries promoting PBT's Dracula by updating the count's image.

In the miniseries, the pair prepare for a special Valentine's dinner where PBT artistic director Terrence Orr is the main course.

"Today it is all about Twilight and True Blood for the younger generation," says Moore. 

And Moore and company hope to capitalize on pop culture's current vampire obsession with Stevenson's neo-Romantic ballet, last performed by the company in 2004.

The ballet's second act takes place in the village where the inhabitants are celebrating the 18th birthday of the lovely Svetlana with folk-dance-infused dancing -- before she too is abducted by Dracula: A ghostly carriage careens to a halt as a caped figure and his henchman whisk into it the village's fairest maiden for a journey to the dark side.

In the final act, Svetlana's fiance, Frederick, joins villagers in storming the castle to prevent her from becoming Dracula's next bride.

With chilling scenic design by Thomas Boyd and supernatural costuming by Judanna Lynn, and set to a haunting score by Franz Liszt, Dracula is a lush stage production, rich with atmosphere and visual effects, including flying vampire brides and a flying Dracula.

 

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre performs Dracula Fri., Feb. 11-Sun., Feb. 13. Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20.75-90.75. 412-456-6666 or www.pbt.org

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