Ballet Theatre of Scranton sinks its teeth into a classic tale for its latest production.
The troupe’s senior company presents “Dracula” for one night only, Saturday, April 29, at 7:30, in the Theater at North, 1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton.
But preparations for the ballet began in the midst of winter, as the show’s creators, Katya and Arkadiy Orohovsky, ventured to the city from their Mississippi home for nine days to set up the production with the cast.
“It’s been crazy,” Katya Orohovsky said during those rehearsals. “They pick up really quickly, very enthusiastically.”
The couple saw a few ballet versions of “Dracula” through the years, but never any they identified with. Then they heard music from 20th-century Ukrainian composers that incorporated that country’s folk songs, and they developed their own version of the story using that music.
“It’s so appropriate,” Ballet Theatre artistic director Joanne Arduino said. “Some of the melodies are just haunting. It’s really a perfect selection for this ballet. (In) one of the scenes, there’s Romanian folk dance, so it has some very rousing music. It has some beautiful, romantic music.”
The Orohovskys’ production combines elements from Bram Stoker’s classic novel “Dracula” with real history, resulting in what Arkadiy Orohovsky called a “more family-friendly” story — less horror and more heart. The dancers play up the love story between Dracula and young Mina.
“(We) wanted to tell a little bit of the history and a little more of the romanticism,” Katya Orohovsky said.
Arduino called “Dracula” a well-known, timeless story she believes audiences will enjoy because of how Ballet Theatre chose to portray it this time.
“We’re sort of billing it as it’s not the gory story of Dracula that everybody thinks,” she said. “It’s really a haunting love story. Granted, it’s still ‘Dracula.’ There’s still his story, but we are focusing on his love story.”
The tale became more believable and resonated with audiences as a result of those changes, according to Arkadiy Orohovsky. When the couple first staged the show with their studio in Ohio in 2007, they saw how the audience connected to the character.
“A lot of people cried at the end, which was surprising,” Katya Orohovsky said.
The Orohovskys revived the show in Mississippi a few years later with their company there, and this marks the first time the couple staged it for someone else. Katya Orohovsky said “it’s been really nice kind of brushing it off.”
“I’m really happy that our ballet is going to stay alive,” her husband said.
Taking on the lead is professional dancer and Ballet Theatre veteran Colin Bolthouse, while Jerica Tallo, another longtime Ballet Theatre dancer, portrays Mina.
“With the costumes and the lighting and the sets, it’s just going to be exceptional,” Arduino said. “And we’re all excited about it.”
Since the choreography “is not really set in stone,” Katya Orohovsky said, she and her husband could tailor the moves for Ballet Theatre’s dancers. Arduino believes it is good for her crew to work with different choreographers, noting how the Orohovskys brought “some interesting concepts.” The couple fit in well with the Ballet Theatre family, she added, calling Arkadiy Orohovsky “very easygoing.”
“He wants them to just express themselves and have a good time with their roles,” Arduino said.
Arkadiy Orohovsky said he and his wife enjoyed working with Arduino and her team and are happy with how Ballet Theatre took the show forward.
“I think it’s going to be a great ballet,” he said.
Arduino expects Ballet Theatre will bring “Dracula” back to the stage again one day.
“This is a new work; it’s classical yet contemporary,” she said. “There are a few of those that we have done throughout the years at Ballet Theatre that have been loved by the audience but also loved by the dancers, and this, I think, is one of them.”
— caitlin heaney west

IF YOU GO
What: “Dracula,” presented by
Ballet Theatre of Scranton’s senior company
When: Saturday, April 29, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Theater at North,
1539 N. Main Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets are $25, available at tututix.com. For more information, call 570-347-2867 or visit balletscranton.org or the group’s
Facebook page.

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