Few children and older guests dressed up in Halloween costumes for Saturday night’s “Dracula” performance at the Community Center Theatre, which included two other performances: “Second Before the Ground” and “Serenade.”
“Second Before the Ground” is a fun, light performance with simple backdrop colors and costumes. The dancers perform controlled and comical ballet movements with creative contortions choreographed by Trey McIntyre. As a united family of wildlife dancing to bongo drums and African-inspired music by the Kronos Quartet, their performance was something like out of “The Lion King,” with dancers running across the stage like a stampede of smiling, prancing antelope.
Intermission changed the scene to “Serenade,” the world’s first plotless ballet. An emotional beauty, “Serenade” is America’s first ballet choreographed by George Balanche and music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Groups of ballerinas in sync with the purity of the music captivated the audience with synchronized swimmer-type movements flaunting their poise and smiles.
After two unrelated acts, Ron Cunningham’s Halloween vampire thriller “Dracula” steals the show. The haunting music by Anthony DiLorenzo builds as the opening scene commences. Count Dracula exits his coffin nude into his castle — something Edward Cullen would not dare do in any “Twilight” novel.
Dancer Stefan Calka is a charming Dracula villain, with an embroidered red cape, sexy widow’s peak and a strong, seductive presence among characters Lucy Westenra and Mina Murray.
Dracula’s attempts to lure his victims to the dark side make for an entertaining performance. The story unravels as the props set the scene of a gloomy Transylvania. The women who play the roles of the creatures in the night and the brides of Dracula resemble zombies with their exotic, wild and erratic behaviors.
Dracula has a stalking presence throughout the performance. When he and Lucy dance during her engagement party, it is intensely passionate and dramatic. When he finally takes her as his victim during the bedroom scene, her scream makes that old 1931 film come to life. That familiar shriek was necessary to carry out the horror on stage.
During the last scene with the killing of Dracula and Lucy, the audience gasped as they pulled Lucy’s head detached from her lifeless body — no blood necessary, just red lights flashing, indicating the striking of the stake.
Every scene follows the old vampire film. It is a short performance, the shortest of the three, yet a classic for Halloween enthusiasts. Three performances in one night showcases the diversity of the Sacramento Ballet dancers, yet most came to see “Dracula.”
“Dracula” continues at the Community Center Theater Thursday and Friday. Tickets are available online.
Photo courtesy of David Alvarez