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Review: Northwest Ballet Theater’s opening night of Dracula

By Daniella Beccaria

Northwest Ballet Theater’s enchanting and thrilling performance revealing the legend of Count Dracula brought the audience to their feet in a well-deserved standing ovation on opening night Saturday, October 18.

Dracula and Mina photo by John Fischer

Dracula and Mina
photo by John Fischer

The performance featured the brilliant director and dancer John Bishop himself, as well as a few guest artists in a heart-racing tale of love and death.

Act I opens on Dracula’s lair where Jonathan Harker, played by Bishop, is signing papers. Dracula emerged with a commanding solo of high jetés and quick turns: a choreographic treat showcasing Joshua Deininger’s talent for flying high.

The scene shifted to focus the spotlight on Renfield, a curiously disturbed mad man played by guest artist, Alona Christman. In the solo that followed, Christman’s deranged and manic dance captured all eyes of the audience, following her through a beautiful and tragic modern dance number.

Guest artist Natasha Keeley danced a dark and mesmerizing Countess Bathory, as she battled for control over Christman (Renfield) and his ship for Dracula’s transport. The sharp contrast in their characters accompanied by their performance prominently featuring a table was reminiscent of the battle between Neil and Sabra in the 2009 So You Think You Can Dance performance to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This.)”

NBT’s Delci Syvertson showed a defining strength and talent in her dancing in her role as Lucy, a flirty young girl who’s seduced by Dracula. Syvertson’s beautiful lines and extensions paired with a natural acting ability brought a refreshing youthfulness amidst the darkness of Dracula.

As the story unfolded, the corps de ballet proved to be strong in both technique and acting. Each of the girls took on their roles with confidence, and their hard work in rehearsals truly showed in their performance.

Act II came as a whirlwind of drama and violence as Jonathan, Mina, Dr. Van Helsing and Arthur thwarted Lucy’s vampiric rebirth all the while fending off the wraiths and vampires. During this time, the Queen Wraith dances among them in an electrifying and sinister performance by Amanda Alexander.

The corps de ballet immersed themselves into their roles once again but this time as vampires. It was easy to see they were enjoying themselves just as much as the audience enjoyed watching them.

Guest artist Shannan McCormick Behrens, who danced the role of Mina Harker, exhibited her exquisite technique and graceful beauty in her pas de deux with Dracula. Each lift seemed more effortless than the one before; a performance that truly showcased her attention to detail.

With only two more performances this weekend at the Mt. Baker Theater, Dracula is definitely a ballet worth sinking your teeth into.