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Monday, Oct. 17, 2011

Bloody Night at the Milwaukee Ballet

Costume party to complement Michael Pink's 'Dracula'

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If you know the Milwaukee Ballet and the work of its director and choreographer Michael Pink, you need no further prompting to see Dracula, running Oct. 27-30 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Pink's 1996 adaptation of Bram Stoker's 1897 Gothic masterpiece is currently the world's most frequently produced new ballet. If you don't know the company—and especially if you think of ballet as distant, elitist or boring—you should see this show. Unless, of course, you're frightened of vampires: This is not camp; it's meant to shock.

During an early rehearsal, the dancers were playful. Pink moved among them as they explored his steps, describing dialogue from the novel. He danced a bit to show psychological nuances. Nadia Thompson and Denis Malinkine, the ballet mistress and master, were there to keep a close eye on the steps. "This scene is so English," Pink says, "the orchestra plays teacups."

Rehearsals were a family affair. Malinkine, the original Count Dracula in the premiere production at England's Northern Ballet, danced as mad Renfield in the new production. Jayne Regan Pink, who created the leading role of Mina with Northern Ballet, shares insights into her husband's choreographic intricacies. Doug McCubbin, who has played the Count on three continents, gave quiet tips between performing his current duties as production manager.

Joshua Reynolds will play Dracula for the second time. He joined Milwaukee Ballet last year after dancing the role with Atlanta Ballet. He'll alternate with the great David Hovhannisyan. The excellent cast includes several exciting newcomers. The great news for those who know him is that Marc Petrocci, seriously injured last season, is dancing again.

I worry a bit that performing on Halloween weekend will undermine the ballet's seriousness, but it's a good excuse for a post-performance costume party with the cast on Saturday, Oct. 29, in the Marcus Center's Atrium. A combined ticket for the performance and "Trans-Fusion: The Party" is $75. Patrons can attend the party alone for $50. Proceeds benefit Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet School and its education and community outreach programs.

For information, call (414) 902-2114 or visit www.milwaukeeballet.org. The Marcus Center is at 929 N. Water St.

Photo by Jessica Kaminski