GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Backstage before, during and after a show is the most exciting place in the world. Adrenaline pumps everywhere, even through the observer, and that’s where I spent last Thursday, Oct. 27, as Phyllis Papa’s Atlantic City Ballet performed Dracula in time for Halloween — watching it from the orchestra pit at Richard Stockton College’s Performing Arts Center.
I arrived at 5pm for a 7pm show and was immediately taken on stage to meet the troupe. Brief conversations brought me familiarity with talent from around the world. Stretching on stage with Americans were dancers from Latvia, Romania, Italy, Japan, Australia, Israel, Korea, and a few other lands.
Phyllis is renowned worldwide for her talent and dedication to the arts. That is very apparent in the 11 nations represented among this years troupe. They can audition in New York City and on video clip.
The day had already contained the ensemble’s regular class, a full run through of the show, and, now, more stretching exercises before the show. Phyllis explained, to conquer perfection, you must practice excellence continually.
A breathtaking story of passion, seduction, transformation and sacrifice, Dracula stakes its claim as a thrilling adventure. Dark, chilling and bloody actually add up to captivating, leaving the audience in a trance like state similar to the vampires on stage.
Dracula is no Nutcracker Suite, AC Ballet’s perennial Christmastime favorite, which I have enjoyed more than once. It is a gripping, choreographed interpretation of Bram Stoker’s famous story. Familiarity with that story is helpful in following the plot. The scenes jump back and forth between Dracula’s Castle in Romania, and London, where Dracula travels to hunt down Mina, another man’s love, who has captured his heart, eventually returning to his castle with Mina.
The production’s opening scenes, with large dance numbers are mesmerizing. Cast and crew worked diligently together to create the sense of excitement and warning. Something compelling is always happening as the plot thickens and Dracula circles his prey, and continues as the prey circles him back. The dancers bring the audience through all the moods and times with precise skill and continuing large dance numbers by the entire troupe.
The dancers were able to create sensuality with seductive moves. Playful beginning dance numbers change into purely evil movements reflective of the plot as Dracula and his brides chase their victims.
I do not know ballet well enough to critique it or the dancers. What I do know is what I like, and I know when I see something good. So, here is my original perception of the show. From beginning to end, everyone knew what their role was, what their steps were, and how to involve each other in dance to engage the audiences in their minds, hearts and souls.
To those main performers and dancers: I am sure you could see on my face at both intermission and after the show how much I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and how much I enjoyed your talents. The beauty of talent is sharing it with those who don’t even recognize just how much hard work and innate ability it involves, and being able to have them sense that intuitively. You did that very well and you left me talking about the show everywhere I went since.
Moreover, before arriving I personally knew three of the dancers, making the stories you shared beforehand that much more enjoyable. It was like watching family perform.
I met Sara Lonngren on the beach this past Memorial Day. Dancing as one of Dracula’s brides, I could not take my eyes off her. She moved with catlike fluidity. I had the pleasure of meeting her mother and watching the show with her longtime boyfriend and dance company photographer, Craig.
Australian Marcus McCormick, Israeli Tomer Dahan and I met one night in a local restaurant. It never occurred to me I’d see them dancing within a week. I am very glad I did, as each leap made me gasp for breath with them as I watched them glide through the air. Thank you all for a job well done!
Geoff Rosenberger is a Broker Associate at Marketplace Realty. Read more of the acweekly.com columnist, Margate City resident and self-proclaimed visionary's "Geoff's Page," including local snap shots, thoughts, Atlantic City news, random musings, GLBT-related news, "The Real Report," and happenings every week — only at acweekly.com.
E-mail Geoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 609-385-7585.
The Atlantic City Ballet’s two newest productions, 'Caught Up in the Swing' and '7 Sins.' will be featured as double-header productions at three southern New Jersey locations — Rowan University’s Wilson Hall’s Pfleeger Theater (Saturday, March 17, starting 7pm); the Ocean First Theater in Manahawkin (Saturday, March 31, 7pm); and at Richard Stockton College’s Performing Arts Center (Thursday, April 19, 7pm). Both productions are family friendly and appropriate for all ages.
The Atlantic City Ballet is coming to Resorts Hotel and Casino’s Superstar Theater Friday and Sunday, Nov. 4 and 6, for two free shows.
The ballet company holds its 5th annual wine tasting event June 17 at Sandi Pointe
On Thursday, Oct. 28, the Atlantic City Ballet returns to the Stockton PAC for 'Dracula,' a full three-act ballet from artistic director Phyllis Papa.
High culture doesn’t always get much time in the spotlight in the shadow of Atlantic City’s glitz and pop culture extravaganzas, but one of the most enduring, and endearing, arts groups in the southern New Jersey area remains the Atlantic City Ballet.
For a ballet company, the obvious holiday production comes at Christmas when The Nutcracker is performed around the country. But what about a Halloween ballet? Check around, there aren’t any. Well, there is one. Phyllis Papa and her Atlantic City Ballet are in their third year of presenting the completely original ballet Dracula.
Inside the Columbus Hotel
I Do… You Can’t.
The Gay-Fil-A Controversy
More on Atlantic City's Ordinance 49