Gothmeister Ken Russell inspired Dracula to dance; and the gothkids love it, as death-on-legs dancer Denis Malinkine tells spooked-out
Dracula has no fangs. For a man whose whole raismi d'étre is piercing the milky-white skin of young maidens with pointy gnashers. this is kind of worrying. ‘l knooww,‘ drawls Russian dancer Denis Malinkine. the dancing Dracula in Northern Ballet Theatre (NBT)‘s new production based on Bram Stoker’s legendary novel. ‘But it’s reeaally for the stage. It is too far so you just wouldn’t see them.‘ He cracks a smile through caked white make-up. the better to expose his lack of pointy pearly-white. There will. however be blood. Malinkine asserts.
Sat in an antique chair in full make-up and costume at lpm on a Wednesday. Malinkine is here to promote the cornpany’s latest toun'ng triumph. The venue is Edinburgh’s ghost-themed restaurant The Witchery, and the joumo trafﬁc through its several-feet-thick wooden doors has been constant. Everyone wants a peek at Britain's ﬁrst dancing vampire. fangs or no
A quick rewind through the vaults of movie history — from Murnau’s 30s Nosferatu to Coppola’s I993 blockbuster with Gary Oldman — is enough to remind us it’s a subject popcom-eaters never tire of. But when it’s travelled all the way from ﬁickery black and white to big-budget Hollywood. why transfer the
tale back to the stage?
llot a word ot tangs: llorthern Ballet Theatre’s Dracula
As any horror buff will tell you. Universal’s famous Dracula movies were less influenced by Stoker's novel than by hammed-up. hair-raising 30s stage versions. The original concept for NBT’s ballet. however. comes from a different source — movie maverick Ken Russell, a pal of artistic director
Yes. one-time star Royal Ballet dancer Cable is also a former ﬁlm actor who appeared in a string of Russell’s movies. As legend has it. it was during ﬁlming for Russell’s The Rainbow (his last acting role) that Gable nudged Russell for suggestions.
‘There’ve been so many ﬁlms created about Dracula.’ Russell is said to have replied. ‘lt’s a ballet in other countries but no one here’s ever done it.‘ And this could‘ve been the clincher for the artistic
director with one eye on the balance sheets: ‘80 many ﬁlms and none of them ever lost money'. Dracula duly went into production. and when the programmes were printed. they gave a credit: ‘from an original idea by Ken Russell'.
Now made big. shiny ﬂesh. the show already has a faithful following, not least from the nation’s numerous vampire societies. Cynical at ﬁrst about the caped count in dancing shoes. Britain’s most dedicated creatures of the night have become ballet groupies. bitten by watching NBT strut their lusty stuff in Lez Brotherston’s Gothic playground of
Britain’s most dedicated creatures of the night have become ballet groupies, ‘They come up after the show and they lust want to touch us!’ boasts Malinkine of his
shape-shifting designs. ‘They come up after the show and they just want to touch us!’ boasts Malinkine of his admirers.
Finding the right dance-style for the centuries-old Casanova was not an open and shut cofﬁn. says Malinkine. ‘We tried lots of things to express Dracula's double identity of human and animal.’ he explains. ‘Eventually we chose bat and snake movements. like sliding and hanging upside down. 1 think.’ he adds with a sly grin. ‘it works.’
Pirouette-spotters may be disappointed by the emphasis on theatre in this dance-theatre piece. But as Malinkine points out. there’s only so much spinning on one leg a believable vampire can do. ‘For some scenes we don’t use much choreography,’ he says. ‘lt would be silly for some of the scenes — having Van Helsing coming in and doing variations just for the sake of it. We don’t do these things in Northern Ballet Theatre. We try to use the movement to express ourselves. not just to show off our double cabrioles.’ (Ellie Carr)
Dracula. Northern Ballet Theatre. Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Tue 22—Sat 26 Oct.
Free steps to heaven
Ever danced the night away to blister point? Probably. Ever thought about how you could be playing a part in a radical and politiclsed collective act? Probably not. The new work trom Wales-based theatre group Man Act may make you think again.
We Want God Ilow takes as its starting point the American dance hall marathons ot the 19303 Depression era and links this to current dance culture. ‘The whole underground dance movement came about alter a decade of Thatcher,’ says Philip Mackenzie, who co-
Man Act: it’s a woman thing too these days
founded Man Act with Simon Thorne. ‘I thought that was an interesting similarity, except one was done for cash and belief that they could all become stars; and the other was done as it was basically the only means of expression lett.’ Incorporating a mix of pounding dance beats, massive video projections from Vienna’s Granular Synthesis and twenty dancers wildly in search oi the ultimate high, the performance is sure to electrity audiences at Glasgow’s Tramway. The work may also mark the end to Man Act's initial ambitions - to look at the state at maleness through language and gesture. ‘That whole issue of gender is completely and utterly obsolete in this show,’ insists Mackenzie. ‘We’ve dealt with gender issues tor twelve years or whatever. Absolutely enough. litter The
Sweatlodge , we thought, you know, that there were other things to talk about in the world. In the tuture, things could change and it may be something to come back to, but in this piece, there are more women than men.’
For now, Man Act will probe the debate around the human, rather than the strictly male, condition. We Want Dad Ilow centres around the desire to aspire tor something else, something out at the order. ‘You go into these clubs and hear the music and see the smoke and the crowds of people together who want an instant ecstatic experience,’ says Mackenzie. ‘lt’s the pursuit of that . . . that’s what the title is saying. We want God right now - you know.’ (Brian Donaldson)
We Want God Ilow, Man Act, Tramway, Glasgow, Thurs 24-8at 26 act.
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