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Milwaukee Ballet - Dracula (Michael Pink) streamed

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Well I've just spent a very happy time at the matinee performance of Milwaukee Ballet's production of Dracula.  It was produced by Christopher Gable with Michael Pink doing the choreography.  They were a wonderful partnership with Christopher Gable having such a dramatic flare and creating very tight productions.
Not only was this very well performed but it brought back so many happy memories of seeing Northern Ballet perform it in the 1990s from it's premiere at Bradford in September 1996 to the final performances by them in 2000.  I thought this Milwaukee cast was very well chosen and they all brought out the characters they were playing.  Dracula was very sinister and Mina was just beautiful.
This ballet is incredibly atmospheric and is a comparatively straightforward re-telling of the book (although the final scenes are in Carfax Abbey rather than having the chase across Transylvania).  The ballet is in three acts, with each act featuring a different target for Dracula -  act 1 is for Jonathan Harker, act 2 is for Lucy Westenra and act 3 if for Mina Harker.
Let Brotherston's set absolutely fits the gothic action and Philip Feeney's score is just awesome with the constant background of someone knocking at the door (Dracula has to be invited in by his victims) and a throbbing heartbeat.  I used to play it all the time in my car and I had to be careful because there are certain sections that just make you want to driver FASTER!!!
Act 1 starts with Harker having nightmares about his trip to Transylvania.  When he wakes up he is actually getting ready to go to Transylvania.  We seeing him saying goodbye to Mina and then we have the impression that he is on a train.  From the train he can see the local people trying to ward off the evil eye with stylised folk dances.  Eventually he arrives and one of the local women gives him a crucifix and tells him to keep it with him at all times.
He is met by a mysterious coachman who takes him to Dracula's castle and here he encounters Dracula who shows him to his bedroom and who sees Harker's photograph of Mina.  Dracula disappears off and Harker lies on the bed.  The three brides of Dracula appear and seduce him.  He is on the point of succumbing to them when Dracula appears and draws the brides away with what seems to be a squealing baby in a sack.  He then turns his attention to Harker and there is a magnificent duet for the 2  of them where Harker is desperately trying to escape and Dracula is there whichever way he turns.  There are some wonderful "still" moments for Dracula who will then suddenly put out a hand (like a cobra's tongue perhaps) and grab Harker as he is trying to run past him.  It all ends with Dracula about to drink Harker's blood.  Then Harker wakes up screaming in bed and Mina comes in to soothe him.
Act 2 is set at a grand hotel in Whitby where there is a tea dance going on.  Lucy Westenra is there with her suitors.  (She and Mina are old friends).  In a sort of time-lapse section a rejuvenated Dracula appears and Lucy is seduced by him.  Van Helsing is consulted and realises what has happened to her.  She is being treated in the same place as the mysterious Renfield and sadly she "dies".
In Act 3 Van Helsing, Harker, Seward and Quincey are trying to gather facts and find out where Dracula has gone.  Mina is in her room upstairs.  Eventually Harker comes to bed.  Dracula appears and there is a very exciting duet for him and Mina where he starts by dragging her off the bed into a one-handed lift.  She is trying to resist him but is powerless.  It ends with Dracula forcing her to drink his blood and he disappears with her leaving Harker and the others in despair.  Then we switch to Carfax Abbey where more vampires await the wedding of Dracula and Mina.  As the ceremony reaches its climax, Van Helsing, Harker, Quincy and Seward burst in and do manage to vanquish Dracula who disappears into a coffin.  Quincy has been mortally wounded in the battle and his friends comfort him.  As the ballet ends Mina moves away and you are left wondering whether she has become a vampire or has been saved in the nick of time.  (To become a vampire you have to drink another vampire's blood - if the vampire drinks yours you just die!)
Anyway that is the bare bones.  I can't even begin to describe the excitement we used to feel in the theatre before curtain up.  The houselights didn't dim they were just suddenly turned out and people who hadn't experienced it before inevitably gasped.  Even though I saw it numerous times I never got used to the experience!
On one occasion a friend and I ventured to Atlanta to see Atlanta Ballet performing the work.  The orchestra was on strike and the company had employed a scratch orchestra of retired musicians and students.  It seemed that the conductor wasn't an experienced ballet conductor.  When Dracula comes for Mina there are spooky noises.  He comes to the bed, pulls her up into the one-handed lift and then the orchestra crashes in ... except they didn't and the dancer performing Dracula had to twirl around and around the stage with Mina in the one-handed lift until they did start playing.  I remember always sticking my fingers in my ears because the explosion in act 3 was so loud.  In 1997 on a solo trip to Newcastle I met other people who had made the trip and I'm happy to say that we are still good friends to this day.
So a huge thank you to Michael Pink and Milwaukee Ballet for streaming this production - not only did I enjoy the performance but I had a lovely trip down memory lane.  I don't know how long it will be available online but I'm going to try and see it at least once more!
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Thanks very much for the tip, Jan - I've just finished watching it, and was very grateful for the chance to do so at last.  Boy, it's fast-paced, isn't it?  And very convincing.  It's still up there for now, but I don't know for how much longer.

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