Ballet you can really sink teeth into
City troupe brings back Dracula for Halloween season
You might be familiar with the Christmastime tradition of The Nutcracker, but Fort Wayne Ballet is bringing you a Halloween tradition, Dracula.
A dark departure from sweet sugar plums and dazzling snow, Dracula will be an experience to die for as the Ballet marks its 66th season.
Into the Darkness
“Dracula is so different from a lot of the other repertoire we do at Fort Wayne Ballet,” artistic director Karen Gibbons-Brown said. “It is a great opportunity for our dancers to explore darker roles than they may be used to.”
Performing this particular version of Dracula is also a unique experience because it was choreographed by Fort Wayne Ballet’s very own ballet master and resident choreographer Tracy Tritz.
“It was created for our company,” Gibbons-Brown said. “Since Tracy knows the dancers, she was able to utilize their individual talents to the greatest extent in her choreography.”
Tritz had an extensive professional performing career prior to joining Fort Wayne Ballet in 2007. Her biography lists such accomplishments as being in the cast of multiple touring Broadway musicals and dancing with professional companies in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Fort Wayne.
Tritz’s Dracula debuted in Fort Wayne in 2020 and opened to sold-out shows and rave reviews.
“Karen asked me if I’d be interested in choreographing a full-length version of Dracula, and very clearly I was,” Tritz said in an October 2020 Whatzup article. “Everything about it appealed to me. It’s such a great piece of literature and so iconic.
“I knew I wanted to work from the original book rather than the movies, so everything comes from that. It had been a while since I’d read it, so I reread it immediately. It took a couple of rereads actually because just like making a film, you can’t use everything in the book. I had to go through and see what parts I could use and which parts I could leave out without undermining the integrity of Bram Stoker’s original story.”
Back From the Dead
Even if you were lucky enough to see Dracula when it premiered, you will absolutely want to take the journey back to Transylvania. Gibbons-Brown spoke to the ways that this year’s performance will be different than its original in 2020.
“We’ve been able to expand the choreography,” she said. “During 2020, we were not allowed to have intermissions, but now we can do this show in three acts instead of just one.”
And, as with all performing arts, no two shows are truly the same.
“Anytime you have live theater, it’s more exciting,” Gibbons-Brown said. “It’s interactive, and you get to see a cast of amazing dancers.”
One aspect of live performance that always varies is the people you see on stage. For Fort Wayne Ballet dancers, getting to dance familiar repertoire offers an opportunity to enhance their performances.
“A lot of us have learned the parts before,” dancer Zion Harris said. “It’s nice because now that we know the choreography, we can focus more on aspects of the characters we are playing. We can really dig deep and deliver a performance that brings parts of our own personalities, too.”
This experience is special not only for the dancers, but for the community. Since the dancers all belong to Fort Wayne and surrounding communities, their execution of Tritz’s choreography reflects that.
“This ballet was created not just to tell a story, but to engage the community,” Gibbons-Brown said. “We try very hard to have the community involved with every performance in some way.”
Sucking Blood … And Donating It
One of the ways Fort Wayne Ballet is engaging the community with this performance is by partnering with American Red Cross for a blood drive. What better way to bring attention to the importance of donating blood than to correlate it with Dracula?
This year, those who registered to donate blood through a link associated with Fort Wayne Ballet received a buy-on-get-on-free ticket voucher for Dracula.
Where in Fort Wayne is Dracula?
You may have seen something rare this summer: Dracula in the daylight! Though you won’t see most vampires during waking hours, Fort Wayne Ballet’s Dracula made an exception this summer to visit locations all over Fort Wayne.
In a fun scavenger hunt of sorts, “Where in Fort Wayne is Dracula?” was a question posed to the community on Fort Wayne Ballet’s Facebook page throughout the summer. Pictures, meant to serve as hints, showed Dracula playing a guitar at Sweetwater, reading a book at the Allen County Public Library, and enjoying his time at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and Science Central (of course, always with his umbrella to shield himself from the harsh sunlight).
Gibbons-Brown said this was a fun way for Fort Wayne Ballet to connect with other organizations in the city and spread the word about Dracula.
Dracula will run Oct. 20-22, but there is a special twist on Friday, Oct 21. Following a 7:30 p.m. performance, Fort Wayne Ballet will host their Transylvania Twist cocktail hour prior to an 11:30 p.m. show.
“Having Dracula late at night is something different,” Gibbons-Brown said. “We don’t usually do shows at 11:30 p.m., but it is something special we do for this show that adds to the spooky atmosphere we are trying to create.”
The Transylvania Twist is included in the price of the ticket for that show and will feature Alicia Pyle and her band, as well as Pizza Hut pizza and hors d’oeuvres.
To purchase tickets for Dracula, which will be performed at Arts United Center, go to Fort Wayne Ballet’s website, fortwayneballet.org, or artstix.org.