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Posted: October 13, 2010

A seductive dancing Dracula in Denver

Come in costume to these performances

Maria Martin

What better way to celebrate Colorado Ballet's 50th season than with passion, drama and a bit of horror.

And what great timing. Vampires are more popular these days than the Grateful Dead were in the '60s.

"Dracula will draw the crowds," says Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs. "Even those who think ‘Swan Lake' and tutus and cringe when they hear the word ‘ballet' should come see this."

And another fine aspect of the timing: Performances run from Oct. 15 to 24. That's mighty close to Halloween.

"We invite people to come in costumes," he says.

Though you can't beat the costumes and makeup on stage, he adds.

"These are 19th-century period costumes. It's amazing how the makeup artists can transform these dancers."

The ballet follows Bram Stoker's novel closely, though very creatively. You'll see a pas de deux where Renfield is in a straightjacket. And the scene where Harker falls under the spell of three female vampires?

"Let's just say this ballet might be fun for everyone, including men," Boggs says with a laugh.

But while it's dramatic and seductive, it's still family friendly, Boggs says, though children under age 8 might be spooked.

Dracula first appeared in Denver 2001, and last appeared in 2007.

"It's been an audience favorite throughout the years," Boggs says. And it's important for arts organizations to draw the crowd in a rough economy, he says.

"Everyone is still very worried about fund-raising and ticket sales," Boggs says. "Even after an economy starts to recover, performing arts groups tend to lag by a year or two. We've restructured and made sure that every dollar spent ensures that we'll be here for the next 50 years."

One way the organization saved money with this performance, he says, was simple. Buy, don't rent.

The set and costumes are all owned by Colorado Ballet. Sure, it's a half a million spent in 2001, but the gurus at the Colorado Ballet knew this would take the stage more than once.

"We didn't have to rent, and we make money renting it out," Boggs says, stressing that the set and costumes are stunning, as is the original score by Philip Feeney.

What you'll see on that impressive stage is not violence, Boggs says.

"It's more about seduction," he pauses and laughs. "I like to say Dracula is going nowhere fast, cause he has an eternal life, so there are great slow moments among the exciting, dramatic pieces.

"If you've ever had trepidation about seeing the ballet, this is pure entertainment. So put on your costume, come see Ellie and see an amazing performance."

If you go:
What: Colorado Ballet's "Dracula"
When: Oct. 15-24
Where: Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Center
Cost: $19-$135
Information: www.ColoradoBallet.org or call 303-837-8888, Ext. 2.
Also coming: During the 50th Anniversary Celebration, Colorado Ballet will host a performance honoring the past and celebrating the future. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Opera House, will feature a performance by company members, a champagne reception and a tribute to Colorado Ballet's founders. For more information, call 303-837-8888, Ext. 2.
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Maria Martin is a freelance writer.

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