Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2010, 12:00 am
Ballet lifts author's vampires onstage
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By Jonathan Turner, email@example.com
Ballet Quad Cities promises a bloody good time at its newestoriginal ballet "I, Vampire," inspired by Bettendorf author Michael Romkey's 1990 novel about the death and undead life of Chicago lawyer David Parker.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck / staff|
Practicing for the new Ballet Quad Cities production 'I, Vampire,' to be performed at the Capital Theatre, Davenport, are Brittany Desrosiers of Davenport, left, Jason Gomez of Davenport, Andrea Rehm of Davenport and Calvin Rowe of Muscatine.
"It's a very intense ballet with incredible choreography," said BQC executive director Joedy Cook. "It's very cool."
In this modern-day story, young David is in an unhappy marriage and falls in love with Tatiana, a Russian ballerina. She is the only one of the czar's children to escape execution. Tatiana and Rasputin, her mentor and spiritual advisor, belong to a ballet company of vampires.
Half the vampires are good and are members of the Illuminati, dedicated to art and culture. While they suck blood, they never kill. The other vampires belong to the Pack, killers who follow Jack the Ripper, the ballet company's manager. The two sides war over David's soul.
This is the third straight year that BQC and choreographer Deanna Carter have brought a vampire tale to the October stage. In 2008 and 2009 they staged the more traditional "Dracula," based on the 1897 Bram Stoker classic.
"'Dracula' was a little darker, more sadistic," said dancer Andrea Rehm, 25, who plays David's rich, spoiled socialite wife, as well as two other roles in "I, Vampire." "I relate more to this character as a human being. This is more contemporary in story and movement.
"I love it," she said. "I like being able to explore this side of human nature." While she's notinto the "Twilight" vampire series, Ms. Rehm is a fan of dark, mysterious stories.
"I like Halloween. It's why I love ballet -- playing dress-up. It never gets old."
Kaleb Baker, 23, plays Jack the Ripper. "It is challenging. Actually, it's a whole new thing for me," he said. "I am a devout Christian. At the end, if good conquers evil, that's good."
Mr. Bakerappreciates how hard Ms. Carter is working the dancers. "She coaches you, your technique, and pushes you to become a better dancer. It's exciting to bring such quality to the Quad-Cities."
In Ballet Quad Cities, "You guys have a real treasure in the Quad-Cities that's noteworthy," said Ms. Carter,an assistant professor of dance at the University of Iowa and frequent BQC choreographer. "You can seereally talented dancers do fantastic, physical feats. They're engaging performers. ...These dancers have grown so much technically since 2006.
"It's a fun story to do dancing to," she said of "I, Vampire," the first in a series of novels by Mr. Romkey. "There's a lot of challenging, dynamic movement." There's inherent drama with the evil vampires, led by the Ripper, creating chaos and tempting vampires to go to the dark side, she said.
Mr. Romkey has sat in on some rehearsals. "I'm really excited," he said. "I was amazed at what fabulous athletes the dances are, and athletes really doesn't tell the whole story. They're so graceful with what they do.
"Deanna has just done some amazing things," he said. "Like the bat dance. Honestly, you think, "What would that be like?' When I saw it, it just gave me chills. You think something like that would be corny, but they do it so well. It's sensual, but it's edgy and menacing.
"And a couple scenes, when people are attacked by vampires, that really just gave me chills to see," Mr. Romkey added. "It's going to be awesome."
Translating the international, historical tale into dance forced the author to streamline and condense his story, keeping essential characters, conflicts and scenes for a 75-minute ballet. "Coming up with a synopsis really required some fancy footwork, so to speak," he said.
Seeing his book blossom on stage has been tremendously satisfying. "It's really kind of miraculous," Mr. Romkey said. "It's really impacted me in a way I never thought it would. ... It didn't occur to me how interesting it would be. I really feel fortunate and gratified they decided to do this."
Parties will take place before and after each 8 p.m. performance at Mac's Tavern, next door to the Capitol Theatre, where you can meet Mr. Romkey, Ms. Carter and the Ballet Quad Cities dancers.
If you go
-- What: Ballet Quad Cities' "I, Vampire."
-- When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
-- Where: Capitol Theatre,330 W. 3rd St., Davenport
-- Tickets: $22, seniors $15, students and children $10 at midwestix.com or at the door.
-- Information: balletquadcities.com.