Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Dracula: the ballet

Now I feel bad.

When I was little - oh, seven, say - my parents made me do ballet lessons after school. I don't know why; I had no desire whatsoever to be a ballet dancer*. I was one of those sturdy, troll-like little girls blessed with no grace, rhythm or musical ear, so for six months or whatever I clomped around doggedly in an elephantine way until Mum and Dad got tired of me moaning about how much my feet hurt and let me quit. I've never had any contact with ballet since. Until now.

My friend C loves the ballet and bought me a ticket to the Northern Ballet Theatre's production of Dracula. Good choice, I thought. I'm writing a vampire novel, and if any plot is going to interest me it'll be that one. I wanted the scales to fall from my eyes. I hoped that, like C, ballet would take me by surprise and sweep me off my feet.

Ballet, it turns out, is mime set to music (and the muted thunder of footfalls on the boards). If you're going, make sure you find out the story in advance, and then a buy a programme and read the scene-by-scene description because you sure as hell won't be able to follow the plot from the action. In fact this production features a significant deviation from the plot of the book in the last second before the final curtain falls, which totally confused me ... If I'd known what was happening I'd have appreciated the ending a lot more. 

Well, it certainly started well. The opening scene is Dracula rising butt-naked from his tomb, and being a dancer it was a very fine butt indeed. I could have just sat there and looked at that for a good ten minutes. In fact there was plenty of male eyecandy in the production - shirtless, muscular and in some cases long-haired. The gymnastics were often breathtaking - these guys are FIT! There were some lovely Victorian costumes - corsets and frock coats and swirly cloaks. There was dominance and submission, some of it m/m (though I'm told that this aspect has been toned down since earlier productions. Bad marks, NBT). There was an extended sex-scene/pas de deux which was both tender and hot. There was a surprising amount of drama toward the climax, when it became increasingly clear that Mina's "rescue" was all about a group of blokes stopping "their" woman running away with a sexy outsider.

 All in all, I should have loved it. And I would have, if it weren't for all that bloody silly prancing around.


So, now I feel bad.

* I wanted to be a rancher looking after a herd of beautiful and highly intelligent wild horses who would be totally devoted to me - in that way that horses in real life aren't, ever.


Madeline Moore said...

It ain't for everybody, Janine. I confess I was glad when Grandma took my two girls to 'Nutcracker Suite.'
That way they see it and I don't have to go.

I took them to the circus though!

neve black said...

Wow! What a gorgous ballet production! I'd love to see that -

My sister was a prima ballerina and I was not. It's best that stick to words instead of dancing. It's funny though, I swear I think I can twirl and point the entire Nutcracker in my sleep, with the music playing in my head too. Not very well though.

Janine Ashbless said...

I did try! I wanted to like it, but my brain wouldn't let me. And just to balance the equation, my ballet friend doesn't "get" paintings so I've threatened to drag him round an art gallery for 2 hours in revenge.

Liz said...

Boo for the toning down of slashy goodness! *Remembering the Helsing/Dracula action...*

Janine Ashbless said...

Yes, that was the bit they'd cut.

"Too gay for ballet," they must have said to themselves(!)