Whether or not you’re an avid follower of HBO’s True Blood or a diehard Twilight fan, few can argue that vampires have made their mark in popular culture.
The Chapel Hill-based Triangle Youth Ballet, a nonprofit dance company and school, will capture that frenzy in its Oct. 9 performance of Dracula at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham. The one-night show is adapted from Irish author Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic novel featuring the infamous Count Dracula.
The production is a collaborative effort between the dance company, Duke and the Duke Red Cross Club. Members from the local ballet, as well as Duke student Courtney Liu, a sophomore, will perform, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards the Red Cross Club.
All of the leads will be danced by guest artists, Audrey Fenske, Director of Community Outreach at the Triangle Youth Ballet and Trinity ’09, wrote in an e-mail. Dancers include Liu, as protagonist Mina; Erick Uphoff, Skyline band member and former contestant on the television show Your Mama Don’t Dance, as Jonathan Harker; Devin Sweet, a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, as John Seward; and Fenske herself, as Lucy.
Fenske said she chose Liu for the lead role after working with her in a dance class last spring.
An accomplished dancer of eighteen years, Liu attended the San Francisco Ballet School and has trained and performed in professional productions with the Cincinnati Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. She chose to take part in the production not only because of her passion for dance, but also for the experience of playing Mina, Liu wrote in an e-mail.
“Mina is a very emotional role to play, and exploring her character within the context of a full-length ballet was simply an opportunity I could not pass up,” Liu said.
She added that she was one of the few newcomers in the production, as the Triangle Youth Ballet had performed Dracula in the past.
“It has been a challenging experience to be the ‘new girl’ who doesn’t necessarily see how the pieces of this beautifully creepy, yet untraditional ballet fit together,” Liu said. “Most of the dancers [were already] familiar with the choreography. However, the director Lauren Lorentz de Haas, [Fenske] and all the other members of the cast have been very helpful and encouraging.”
The Triangle Youth Ballet has partnered with the Duke Red Cross Club as part of its focus on community outreach.
Although the club has generally stayed away from fundraising efforts in the past, this performance collaboration presented a unique opportunity to raise funds, senior Samuel Heroy, president of the Duke organization, wrote in an e-mail.
“I’m really excited about this show in particular because it’s Dracula,” Heroy said. “I can’t help but think of the irony of it being about a vampire sucking blood for sustaining life and the Red Cross collecting blood for saving lives.”
The ballet company has a history of working with the American Red Cross Blood Donor Services, Triangle Youth Ballet Artistic Director Lauren Lorentz de Haas wrote in an e-mail. She added that working with the Duke organization seemed like a natural extension and plans to continue partnering with similar nonprofit organizations in the future.
This collaboration across seemingly unrelated organizations will allow the Triangle Youth Ballet to promote a worthwhile cause as well as entertain, especially when vampires are all the hype right now.
Dracula will be performed Saturday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham. Tickets are available for sale at www.carolinathreatre.org.