Celebrating 25 years of ballet at the Carolina Ballet with Dracula

The upcoming production in the Carolina Ballet's 25th anniversary season is a combination of Dracula and The Masque of the Red Death. These two classic, spooky stories are perfect for the Halloween season and showcase the world-class production, choreography, and music that makes the Carolina Ballet special.

Posted Updated
This article was written for our sponsor, the Carolina Ballet.

This October, the Carolina Ballet celebrates Halloween and the company’s 25th anniversary season with a special production. The show will be a blend of two classic horror tales; Dracula and The Masque of the Red Death. The productions are choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Robert Weiss, and would not have been possible without the invaluable help of those at the Carolina Ballet, like composer Mark Scarce, to bring this production to life and out of the pages of classic novels. Additionally, this year’s performance of Dracula will feature the lead actor, Alan Campbell, who graced the stage in the inaugural performance of the ballet in October of 2010.

When Robert Weiss, Carolina Ballet’s founding artistic director, commissioned Dracula, the goal was to create another seasonal production that would be a hit. “Other ballet companies across the country had done various versions that were very successful. Everyone was looking for another Nutcracker, which sells more tickets than any other ballet in history because you can do it year after year and people come back again and again to see it,” said Weiss. As the popularity of Halloween grew, Dracula seemed to be a great option for Carolina Ballet as a seasonal production. “Dracula is one of the most loved tales at Halloween,” added Weiss.

Dracula is a classic story, written by Bram Stoker and popularized by the classic Bela Lugosi film, about a vampire who terrorizes a small village in Transylvania. “I wanted to do a work that involved the spoken word. I went back to the novel and it's a very complex story, more complex than other ballets usually depict and I wanted it to be represented as such,” said Lynne Taylor-Corbett, the resident guest choreographer and artistic vision behind Carolina Ballet’s Dracula. "It's a strange story about societal fear, feminism, and rebirth. People are living under darkness and are reborn through the community and coming together for a common goal, and finally, they’re able to watch the sunrise again. I love that complexity," added Taylor-Corbett. And in a society that has faced many challenges over the past few years, these themes will likely resonate deeply with the audience. In Weiss’s opinion, the addition of the spoken word element enhances the ability of the audience to understand and follow the story.

As the ballet was being planned, "Lynne came up with about an hour and 15-minute version of Dracula, but we like to make our shows around 2 hours… so the audience can get their money's worth. I decided I’d do an opener, and keeping with the theme of Halloween, it would be a horror story. I like Edgar Allen Poe, so I decided to do The Masque of the Red Death," said Weiss. "I’d be very curious to see peoples’ reaction to it this year after COVID because we’ve never had a worldwide pandemic in my lifetime. The Masque of the Red Death is a fictional horror story based on the Black Plague in the Middle Ages. This is the first time we’re selling this story after we’ve experienced a plague; it was a fantasy before, but now it's relevant to a lot of people's lives." said Weiss. This half-hour production will precede Dracula, separated by an intermission.

Still, the two ballets have been designed to complement each other. "Robert and I know each other's work and how we’ve both evolved. While we have different backgrounds and approaches, we know our work will not cancel each other out, and it's lovely for the audience because they get two diverse ballets in one evening," said Taylor-Corbett. "Attendees first enter The Masque of the Red Death, which is a palace, and then they enter Dracula which begins with a shipwreck. For someone who has never seen the Carolina Ballet’s version of Dracula, Taylor-Corbett hopes "the person watching will lose themselves in it, forget where they are, and become absorbed and invested in the characters."

This production will be an opportunity for the ballet to show off its range as both a classical and modern organization and how ballet, and art as a whole, is for everyone of all ages and demographics. "The amazing thing about the Carolina Ballet is that the effort has been made on the artistic and community level to bring along the younger dancers, who were maybe just out of high school. Then they are now ballerinas, and ballerinas transition into behind the scenes. You have an umbrella of people who want to be a part of the arts here their entire lives, and it's truly very special," said Taylor-Corbett.

“Many institutions rise and fall, but this institution was started by a visionary person and people within the community who really felt that this art form belonged. Every great city needs performing arts institutions. Building the audience, reputation, and quality of dancers has contributed to a rare longevity. There has been a lot done right here,” added Taylor-Corbett, reflecting on the 25th anniversary. "I have always believed since a very young age that the arts add a dimension and quality to life that nothing else does. I think the arts are essential to a rich, fulfilling life. I think we have helped bring this to the community over the past 25 years, and we feel a lot of people may enjoy the arts and the Carolina Ballet if they give it a chance," Weiss finished.

This article was written for our sponsor, the Carolina Ballet.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.