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Dracula at DanceXchange - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Must-see stylish vampire drama
Translating the fear and horror of Bram Stoker's Dracula into two hours of dance may seem like a feat but this creative masterpiece from the Mark Bruce Company was more in-line with the novel than many films.

Dracula3
Atmospheric scenes in the fantastic dance version of Dracula.


It's a sexy, atmospheric production that wreaks with pure gothic Victoriana and stays very true to the original, using a mixture of classic ballet, contemporary dance and even a tap dancing routine in the style of Fred Astaire.

I caught The Mark Bruce Company performing the story in Birmingham at DanceXchange during a UK tour that continues to cities including London, Leicester and Glasgow.

There's wonderful touches like using a bird on a stick to carry letters from leading character Jonathan Harker to his love Mina to tie in with the many letters and journal entries in the novel. While dancers are transformed into wolves and horses to create the realistic image of a horse-drawn carriage roaring its way to Dracula's castle. You can almost feel the wind whistling past your ears.

These are just some of the inventive ways Mark Bruce has managed to convert elements of the narrative into this riveting, sensual and stylish choreography.

Dracula, Mark Bruce Company, Dance, DanceXchange
Animals feature heavily in this production of Dracula


Visually, there's a lot of black leather, steam punk fashion and corsets (plus blood, of course) to a soundtrack mixing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata with the pre-war dancehall tune of The Preacher and The Bear, but the most dramatic moments are always saved for the classical symphonies.

Dracula, played chillingly by excellent award-winning dancer Jonathan Goddard, is an agile and tenacious character who is as drawn to the humans around him as our hero Jonatham Harker is to him.

He is terrifying without even saying a word, as are his trio of vampire brides (Nicole Guarino, Grace Jabbari and Hannah Kidd). They are seductive and haunting at the same time with an ability to turn extremely ghastly and animalistic.

What's refreshing is that the choreography makes clear these vampires are monstrous killers and not the romantic teenage fantasy seen of late in movies like Twilight.

Dracula1
Haunting and sexy, Mark Bruce Company's dance version of Dracula


The action keeps moving effortlessly combining drama, gentle romance and even elements of comedy.

When Dracula finally sets his sights on Lucy Westenra in her bedroom, the movements combine her pain and unease but also the seductive all-consuming power of the vampire.

This dance production demands attention and unlike Dracula, rather than sucking the life out of you, it re-energises you with excitement. It's a must-see.

Rating: 9/10

Mark Bruce Company's Dracula - UK Tour Dates

DanceXchange
Birmingham Hippodrome
October 15 - 18
For tickets call 0844 338 5000 or visit the DanceXchange website.

Curve Theatre
Leicester
October 21 - 22
For tickets call 0116 2423595 or Curve website.

Y Ffwrnes
Llanelli, Wales
October 25
Call 0845 2263510 or visit the Carmarthenshire Theatre website.

Tramway
Glasgow
October 30 - November 1
For tickets call 0845 3303501 or visit the Tramway website.

Galeri
Caernarfon
November 8
For tickets call 01286 685222 or visit the Galeri website.

Aberystwyth Arts Centre
November 11
For tickets call 01970 623232 or visit the Aberystwyth Arts Centre website.

Salisbury Playhouse
November 14 - 15
For tickets call 01722 320333 or visit the Salisbury Playhouse website.

Lighthouse
Poole
November 18
For tickets call 0844 406 8666 or visit the Lighthouse website.

Dance East
Ipswich
November 22
For tickets call 01473 295 230 or visit the Dance East website.

artsdepot
London
November 25 - 26
For tickets call 0208 369 5454 or visit the Artsdepot website.

The Old Market
Brighton
December 2 - 4
For tickets call 01273 201 801 or visit the Old Market website.
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Why? World class horror dance with style
When: Touring until December
Phone: Various - see theatre list
Where: Various - UK Tour
Cost: From 10
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