Royal Winnipeg Ballet


Dates 22, 23 & 24 March 2007, 8pm Venue Queen Elizabeth Theatre Reviewer Ross Michael Pink

The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, led by the ever creative Andre Lewis, tackled the mysterious and macabre when it presented the timeless classic, Dracula. The story has been told in literature, film, theatre, and now the ballet world has its own version, perhaps best captured by famed choreographer Michael Pink (no relation) whose compelling and captivating version led to sell out houses in Europe and North America.

The RWB version was more subdued. It focused less on the dance of danger between Dracula and the heroine that was an electrifying moment in the Pink version. However, to its credit, the RWB was able to hold the attention of the audience for the lengthy ballet and to delve perhaps more deeply into the story.

The RWB presented two Acts. In Act One, Lucy, the heroine, is seduced into Dracula’s world and then when she falls ill, is visited by the hero, Dr. Van Helsing. At the end of Act One, Van Helsing and his comrades in arms manage to free Lucy from the clutches of Dracula. In Act two, Mina, a friend of Lucy’s, is taken captive by Dracula. In the end, Mina manages to subdue Dracula and slay him.

JaimeVargas , as Dracula, is controlled and expressive. Vargas, a native of Mexico City, joined the RWB in 2004. Tara Birtwhistle, in the role of Lucy, is talented and convincing. This is a ballet that relies not just on dramatic movement but also on the effective conveyance of deep emotions.

Birtwhistle was raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and joined the RWB in 1991 and is now a company veteran. Cindy Marie Small, in the role of Mina, was dramatic and has a confident dance style. Darren Anderson, another Alberta native, was strong and believable in the role of the heroic rescuer, Dr Van Helsing.

The staging for this presentation was quite imaginative and evoked the mood and ethos of the story. A very creative moment occurred when a giant red tarp on stage was suddenly swept away through a small door at the back of the stage. Production director Don Rutley and stage manager, Dianne Domaratzki, did a masterful job in presenting the right effects for this compelling and melodramatic ballet stage production.

In sum, RWB presented a demanding story with credibility, emotion and fine technical dancing.

© 2007 Ross Michael Pink