Royal Winnipeg Ballet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Royal Winnipeg Ballet 

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Published in 1897, Bram Stoker's Dracula may now inhabit the Halloween pantheon of campy fun, but a recent production by this 61-year-old Canadian company reminds us that it's no kiddie show. In several scenes the focal point is a huge four-poster bed, and the blond waif who struggles on it is both helpless female victim and avenging virago. Swinging seductively around the bedposts, drawing her lover toward the bed on his knees, turning a blood transfusion into a steamy pas de deux, she makes the story's sexual subtext obvious. Then there are the gargoyles, winged creatures with ratlike tails and spiked backs (and uncharacteristically large tummies for ballet dancers) that hover around the bed threatening her. And though this isn't a gory piece, the biting and stabbing--especially a scene in which townspeople drive stakes through the vampires' hearts--might make you wince. Perhaps most frightening is the overwhelming sense of helplessness against evil forces. Choreographed by Mark Godden and performed by all 28 members of the company, this Dracula reveals how well suited ballet is to melodrama: its stylized forms both enhance and contain the story's passion. Friday at 8 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie; $39. Call 847-673-6300 for tickets and information. Then next Friday, November 3, at 8 at the Paramount Arts Centre, 23 E. Galena Blvd. in Aurora; $35.50-$40.50. Call 630-896-6666 for tickets and information.

--Laura Molzahn

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