Dance of the vampire

30th May 1997 at 01:00
DRACULA Education pack from the Northern Ballet Theatre Pounds 4.50, incl postage CD of score Pounds 5.99, incl postage Age range: 11+

The Northern Ballet Theatre has recently added to its thrilling repertoire one of the most spine-tingling stories of them all - Dracula. This absorbing education pack to accompany the production illustrates the narrative power and clarity of the Leeds-based company. It clearly demonstrates that NBT offers ballet with drama, passion and excitement - ballet with attitude.

The development of Dracula, the ballet, is traced through interviews with dancers, the creative team and others involved in bringing it to the stage. Here are successes, moments of inspiration and mistakes, all sprinkled with interesting anecdotes.

Dracula follows the format of NBT's previous education packs, using interviews with staff but with new areas of explanation, all appropriately detailed and blessed with insight. It would make an excellent aid for theatre studies students and would be equally useful for music, design and marketing courses.

Christopher Gable, NBT's artistic director, has deliberately tapped the creative energy of his dancers. Dancers in other companies are often told what to do but Mr Gable, whose "Show me what you're feeling!" peppers rehearsals, has introduced his dancers to improvised drama.

It is a new departure for the company and some of what the dancers conceived in workshops has found its way into the ballet.

Mr Gable researched his subject thoroughly. And composer Philip Feeney has been equally diligent in finding obscure Romanian folk songs and chants for a strident and atmospheric soundtrack. Mr Feeney explains how he makes the orchestra sound bigger than it is, and why he had a gothic chorus translated into Romanian. And drama consultant Patricia Doyle shows how expression and feelings are steadily built up.

It is absorbing, constantly fascinating and sure to be read at one sitting. But I would have loved a page, torn from the choreographer's notebook, showing how the movements are recorded, or one from the deputy stage manager's notebook. These would be worthwhile additions.

The Dracula education pack is available from the Northern Ballet Theatre, West Park Centre, Spen Lane, Leeds LS16 5BE

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