The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

January 31, 2014

Destinations: From ‘Dracula’ to Elvis, Valentine’s entertainment is just a short drive away

— Devon Carney knows the Kansas City Ballet’s production of “Dracula” was a lot to bite off, but the company’s new artistic director was ready to sink his teeth into the unique story.

“It’s going to be fun,” Carney said. “Every time I’ve mentioned ‘Dracula’ in a public setting I get a lot of excitement about it. It’s a different subject matter than you usually get from mainstream ballet. It’s going to bring a really unique audience that’s really into the idea of the whole undead.”

Many ballet companies stage versions of Bram Stoker’s dark Victorian saga. It’s the story of a mysterious count and his dangerous attraction to the proper ladies of the day, and the Victorian gentlemen willing to stake their reputations — and lives — on the caped count’s ultimate demise.

This season marks the first time “Dracula” has been mounted by the Kansas City Ballet. The production will be performed at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts from Feb. 21 to March 4.

Don’t pigeonhole the charming and dangerous Transylvanian count’s story into one that’s meant only to be told around campfires on cool October nights.

“The Halloween season is typically when you see Draculas come to life,” he said of the ballet. “In this case we’re doing it around Valentine’s Day because there’s a love story in there as well. There’s a love story between Dracula and Mina, and Jonathon Harker and Lucy, but there’s a terrifying and scary part, too. Dracula is biting every fair maiden that comes along.”

The story and ballet, based on Stoker’s 1897 novel as well as the later stage plays and films, play to the uptight sensibilities of the period. But, Devon said, it’s still a romantic and sexy story. Romantic and sexy, yes, but also graphic and perhaps more appropriate for adult audiences.

“You are dealing with a subject matter and with the alluring quality of the dancers,” he cautioned. “A lot of people die, and there is blood and content that would be disturbing to a 5-year-old.”

Sound a little too serious for the season of cupids and heartshaped boxes of candy? Don’t be quick to judge. Devon said there is plenty of fun to be had at the count’s expense.

“It’s going to be fun,” he assured. “We’re doing a bloody mary brunch for one of the shows, and we’re doing a blood drive at the studio.”

Ballet, even one based on such a bloody tale, can be fun.

“That’s the only way you can do ‘Dracula,’” he said. “You gotta have fun with it. It’s quite an outrageous story. You might as well go with it and have a good time.”

I plan on it.

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