Tag: Melbourne City Ballet

Melbourne City Ballet Presents DRACULA

Popcorn, cos-play – and ballet

By Narelle Wood

Melbourne City Ballet, under the artistic direction of Michael Pappalardo, brings gothic and grace together in a recreation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


The ballet hits all the major plot points: Jonathan Harker leaving a worried Mina behind as he goes off to meet the formidable Count Dracula. Malevolent Dracula decides a trip to London is in order, his vampiric brides attempt to feast on Harker, and of course there are the scared villagers who the heroes encounter along the way that offer helpful tokens such as garlic and crucifixes. It even includes that awkward moment when Mina takes Dracula to Lucy’s party, and Dracula’s infatuation begins, as well as Lucy’s demonic demise. Blood-sucking chaos ensues before humans triumph over the undead.

Overall the dancing was really strong with some extraordinary bits of choreography courtesy of Brendan Bradshaw who also stars as Dracula. The brides were menacing and seductive, often appearing on stage as if out of nowhere. The opening of the third act was one of my favorite ensemble performances of the night as female vampires, along with the brides, welcome Lucy to their fold, dancing in front of an eerie and turbulent grey backdrop. But by far the standout moment was the pas de deux between Dracula (Bradshaw) and Harker (Matthew Dillon), showcasing the strength of both the leads as they performed some very complex and intricate choreography. The other standout was Caroline Pais as Lucy. She epitomized transformation between her two characters; sweet as a human and completely menacing and in her vampire form. Yuiko Masukawa as Mina was also very strong but her character didn’t have a very large storyline.

The costumes were spectacular with lots of color and movement across the stage. The sets were also spectacular but there were a lot of transitions, some of which seemed a little superfluous and distracting, but nevertheless looked amazing. Kudos must also go to Bradshaw for lying in a closed coffin, albeit fake. There were some opening night bugs with lighting and a few awkward moments where the audience wasn’t quite sure whether the act had ended or not. The score was well chosen with a combination of music from Liszt and Rachmaninov: it was dark and brooding and everything you would expect, but I did find the transitions between movements a little abrupt at times.

Despite the horror genre and the dark nature of some of the characters, this is a fun ballet that’s well executed. It was definitely a good excuse to dust off the Halloween costume a little early, and was well-suited for fans of the ballet, gothic tales or both. I look forward to the Melbourne City Ballet’s performance of Madame Butterfly in December.

Dracula was performed from Oct 7-9 at Plenty Ranges and Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre. For more information about upcoming performances, visit melbournecityballet.com.au

Melbourne City Ballet Presents NAPOLI

Impressive cast bring ballet to the suburbs

By Rachel Holkner

The professional dancers of the Melbourne City Ballet, performing alongside Finishing Year pre-professionals, recently gave a charming rendition of the 1842 full-length ballet Napoli at the Darebin Performing Arts Centre. The casting of the two lovers Teresina (Carolina Pais) and Genarro (Matt Dillon) was wonderful; both highly skilled ballet dancers, they shared real chemistry and were very compatible together.


While the sets, costumes and props may be on the simpler side (being a short performance season) they more than fulfilled their roles, setting the scene for an Italian love story in a seaside town and then an underwater grotto as Teresina is kidnapped by Golfo, a water spirit (Brendan Bradshaw) and his Naiads.

Napoli, not produced as a full-length ballet in Australia for forty years, was a curiosity and an ideal choice for a small and nimble company. Artistic Director Michael Pappalardo mentions in the program the dancers’ difficult task in adapting to choreographer August Bournonville‘s unique technique. I wish I knew more of this; while certain of the combinations were unusual, it’s difficult to tell as a non-performer what makes them trickier than others.

As for the curious Napoli, it was soon clear why it is not performed more. Act One is a pantomime, acted in time to the music, with a profound lack of ensemble dances. The story is uneven and unnecessarily complex, relying overly on the dancers’ skills in mime rather than expressing character through movement.

The choreography as a whole is somewhat flat (there is no “Dance of the Cygnets” here), and the music insipid, the result of being composed by a collection of musicians inspired by a wide range of source material. While there is copious dancing in Act Three it also feels flat as there is no change in emotion: it is all celebration of the lovers’ reunion and tarantella.

However, none of these criticisms should be a reflection of MCB. They are a highly capable ensemble providing professional productions at locations and at price points for the general public. I would definitely recommend them to aficionados and the newly ballet-curious. This production of Napoli was definitely a case of the performers outshining their source material. Perhaps more of these rare or unusual pieces may be the key to drawing an audience of ballet enthusiasts.

Melbourne City Ballet‘s next production is the contemporary showcase Play Rewind at Metanoia Theatre, Brunswick
26-29 May
Tickets from $26.10

Image by National Photography