A Ballet to Die For"
Choreographed by: Bruce Steivel
Featuring: Milos Marijan and Bojana Zegarac of the Serbian National Ballet
When: Through October 28, 2012
Where: Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City, California
Tickets: $35-$60; Visit tickets.foxrwc.com or call 650-369-7770
beautifully danced tale of blood-sucking and love
Just in time for Halloween, Peninsula Ballet Theatre is staging "Dracula - A Ballet to Die For," choreographer and artistic director Bruce Steivel's vision of the classic vampire tale. Beautiful dancing, an intriguing love story, gorgeous costumes, and intricate sets - this show has all the elements of an enjoyable night at the ballet.
Peninsula Ballet Theatre has been around for 45 years, and proudly calls itself the largest employer of professional artists in San Mateo County. (Indeed, the smallish stage at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City seemed crowded at times with the large cast.) Steivel has been the artistic director since 2009.
For this production of "Dracula," company dancers from all over North America are joined by two guest artists from the Serbian National Ballet - Milos Marijan, who dances the part of Dracula, and Bojana Zegarac, who plays Mina, the object of his affection.
"Dracula" is billed on Peninsula Ballet Theatre's web site as "wildly theatrical and opulent," and it certainly is. Marijan's performance as Dracula, in particular, is deliciously over the top. Single-handedly dispatching groups of fit young men, it's like Jim Carrey playing a danseur playing a super-villain, an entertaining mix of virtuosity and scenery-chewing.
Dracula's Wives, a trio of vampy, toothy beauties, are both creepy and compelling, and all gorgeous dancers. The quartet between them and Mina's fiancé is the best scene in the show.
Steivel's choreography is both familiar and innovative. The garden party scene, with well-known music by Strauss (the rest of the score is by Wojciech Kilar) is reminiscent of village dances in ballets such as "Giselle" and "Romeo and Juliet." The fight scenes between Mina's rescuers and Dracula's followers are fast-paced and contain some unusual lifts and throws between the men, as well as rolled eyes and lurching shoulders à la "Thriller."
Interestingly, in this story, the usual arsenal of vampire-repelling articles don't have the degree of power that we've come to expect - Dracula barely pauses when presented with garlic, holy water and crucifixes. Steivel also takes some artistic license with the ending of the story - a nice surprise that I won't give away here.
Sadly, the theater was not full on Saturday night, which may have had something to do with the Giants' third World Series game on TV.
You can catch the final performance of "Dracula" today at 2 p.m. at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City. I hope the company has plans to perform this work again; it's a fun romp, and it would be a shame not to get maximum use out of the wonderful set and costumes.