It’ll draw the blood from your veins: Dracula marks spectacular return to stage


Dracula sunk its teeth into the hearts of the audience on opening night, with the innovative and contemporary ballet being one of the first major performances coming back to the Perth arts scene.

WA Ballet’s Dracula was a master of extracting different styles and forms of dance, splicing them into the traditional ballet form.$zoom_0.148%2C$multiply_2.1164%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/c7cec6111577b50945e093c85645ffb6e58694cb
Phantoms Matthew Edwardson and Oliver Edwardson breathing life into Matthew Lehmann's Young Dracula.Bradbury Photography

Both roles of Dracula were captivating. Old and young Dracula (Aurélien Scannella and Matthew Lehmann, respectively) showed prowess in their performance of the count’s contrasting sides.

Lehmann portrayed a fluid and elegant vampire, while Scannella was a frightfully rigid but beautifully wounded soul. The contrast was captivating for audiences as it allowed for more depth and character development within the storyline.

The ominous mimicking of movement, portrayed by the master’s two phantoms (Matthew Edwardson, Oliver Edwardson), added to the in-depth intricacies of each side of the vampire.

They created a separable physical theatre experience to the main form of dance seen in two principals.

A highlight of Lehmann’s performance had to be his sudden shift from a graceful routine to a vicious tango in the matter of seconds, entertaining the conflict between the facetious count and lawyer Jonathan Harker (Oscar Valdes).

The movement tells one story for an audience, but the scenography equally transforms the mind of an audience. WA Ballet’s creative team truly struck the nail into the coffin by creating one of the most visually enchanting stage sets to date.

The team of Phil R Daniels and Charles Cusick Smith put a hefty amount of time into everything from the detailing of the decrepit stone walls and dark marble pillars of Transylvania to the finer points of the grand ballrooms in London.

At times, it was common to find your eyes imprisoned in the gloomy lair of Dracula, immersing you into the saddened world of the cursed count. It wasn’t only the set design which helped this, but the perfectly pieced score of the ballet.$zoom_0.195%2C$multiply_2.1164%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/04d492da0e553e3137c192ca0a0514ef8fbbacf7
Chihiro Nomura's Lucy Westenra affected by the curse of vampirism.Bradbury Photography

Performed by the WA Symphony Orchestra and composed by the late Wojciech Kilar, harsh strings fuelled the on-stage violence, juxtaposed with the love story between Dracula and Mina (Carina Roberts).

Taking a leading stride in the performance was best friend turned vampire Lucy Westenra (Chihiro Nomura), creating a varied character with many complexities in movement and expression. Her point routine was also not to be discounted as a climax.

Professor Van Helsing (Adam Alzaim) gave the audience a robust giggle, from the way he developed his odd but charming vampire conspirator. At points his character portrayal was unmatched, letting audiences believe there was no dancer behind the man.

Ultimately, this left his three other aristocratic supporting men on stage, displayed to audiences as too similar in their movement styles and characterisation.

As for the return of this production to the stage, it was beautiful for Perth to experience. It solidifies its place as WA Ballet’s most innovative original performance. It’ll draw the blood from your veins; an unmissable stage spectacular.