2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Courtesy Steven Visneau

Dracula is a ballet to sink your teeth into

By Gurman Sahota, October 18 2016 —

Alberta Ballet will commemorate its 50th anniversary with the horror classic Dracula. Choreographed by Sir Ben Stevenson, the show will play in Calgary from Oct. 27–29 and Edmonton from Nov. 4–5.

“If someone wants to discover classical ballet it’s a great way to be introduced because it is not a complex story. Of course it is one of the most famous horror stories of all time,” Alberta Ballet artistic director Jean Grand-Maître says. “It is respectful of the original story — it doesn’t try to reinvent the classic.”

Two years ago, Alberta Ballet added an additional performance to each show’s routine run for a total of six performances divided between Calgary and Edmonton. Dracula will have four performances in Calgary, including a double feature on Saturday.

The production took six weeks of rehearsals — nearly 700 hours — to prepare. With massive sets and flying vampires, Grand-Maître emphasizes the majesty of the performance.

“It is like putting on a Broadway show in a tenth of the time they have,” he says. “We have to be quick with two days on stage [before opening night] and we have to put in 400–500 scenic elements together in record time.”

The tone of the performance will be eerie as dancers hone the haunted energy that follows Dracula.

“[It is] almost operatic in stature,” Grand-Maître says. “[The dancers] actually try to inhabit the characters of the undead, even in the body language. It’s all quite developed.”

Alberta Ballet has come a long way from its humble creation in Edmonton and is now internationally renowned. Performing classical productions and hosting a variety of dancers helped strengthen the importance of the establishment. Grand-Maître says Alberta Ballet would not be able to survive without community support.

“Art is all about a love affair between the audience and the art. You have to keep very close connections that way so it becomes a passionate and wonderful adventure for us all,” Grand-Maître says. “I always try to remember what it will do for the dancers, for the audience [and] for the art.”

Grand-Maître says that desire for new material was key in choosing Dracula to open the 50th anniversary season.

“Our fans are always eager to see new ballets. New work really excites them and we wanted to launch our 50th with a major ballet that we haven’t done yet,” he says. “Dracula was the one [and] it also perfectly coincides with the dates where we could do it on Halloween.”

Grand-Maître hopes the show will serve as a reminder of the beauty of life and an inspiration to audiences in both cities.

“I hope we inspire people and change people with every show. It is a big responsibility on artists, especially right now. I just hope people will come and be extremely entertained,” he says.

For more information, visit albertaballet50.com

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet