Sac Ballet ‘Dracula’ returns, paired with a Balanchine classic

By From page A3 | October 25, 2011

Sensuality, madness and Dracula's supernatural power over his minions are the order of the day in the Sacramento Ballet's performance of "Dracula," on stage at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre on Thursday and Friday. Courtesy photo

Sacramento Ballet production of The Illuminations. Wednesday, October 26, 2005. Sacramento Bee/ Jay Mather Sacramento Bee/ Jay Mather


What: Sacramento Ballet presents ‘Dracula,’ Balanchine, Trey McIntyre

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday

Where: Sacramento Community Center Theatre, 1301 L St., Sacramento

Tickets: $14-$65; www.sacballet.org, (916) 808-5181

The Sacramento Ballet is offering a full-scale fall program at the Sacramento Community Center Theater this week — and isn’t it nice to have the company doing a big show in October once again?

The show is a triptych of contrasting choreography by three very different artists, and it’s well worth a look.

The opening piece is Trey McIntyre’s “Second Before the Ground,” set to upbeat music based on African themes by the Kronos Quartet (from their album “Pieces of Africa”). This fast-moving, nimble piece features lots of busy, flirtatious activity between Sac Ballet’s men (bare-chested, in tan baggy trousers held up by suspenders) and the company’s women (confident and independent, in knee-length skirts and tank tops).

McIntyre created this engaging, fun-to-watch 25-minute piece in 1996 for the Houston Ballet. And if this spirited piece leaves you wanting to see a little more from this bright young choreographer, you also might want to check out the Trey McIntyre Project’s appearance at the Mondavi Center on Nov. 12.

Next comes George Balanchine’s early classic “Serenade,” set to the striking music of Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.” Balanchine created this piece in 1934, shortly after he arrived in this country, and it is simultaneously a tribute to the glorious Russian tradition in which he was raised, and a declaration of independence as he put down roots in a new land.

In “Serenade,” Balanchine dispensed with an overt plot. This is dance for the sake of dance, and many in the audience let out a spontaneous “ah” during Sunday’s performance as the curtain rose to reveal Sacramento Ballet’s female dancers in gauzy white, executing beautiful geometric patterns as the Tchaikovsky melodies echoed through the hall.

The program’s third offering is “Dracula,” created in 2004 by Sac Ballet’s artistic director Ron Cunningham. This is the program’s “story ballet,” replete with sets that changed from scene to scene.

“Dracula” has become something of an October favorite with this company. Audience members (including several children) like to attend dressed in spooky costumes, and there is a party Saturday with Sacramento Ballet’s dancers.

Cunningham’s choreography tells the familiar tale of the famous vampire’s decision to relocate from Transylvania to London, where he’s soon mixing with the elite at high society parties, and biting some of the prettiest ladies in the neck. Sensuality, madness and Dracula’s supernatural power over his minions are the order of the day — he spins around the stage in two different twirling capes (one red, one black) that almost seem like wings, and the action between Dracula and the beautiful women he ensnares keeps leading to the bedroom.

The music — a brassy, rather cinematic score by Anthony DiLorenzo, laced with a otherworldly growls — is frankly a bit cheesy. But we’ll let that go in the spirit of Halloween frivolity.

There are two performances of this Sacramento Ballet program remaining, on Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre, 1301 L St., Sacramento. Tickets are $14 to $65, available at www.sacballet.org or (916) 808-5181.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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