Dracula Returns to Nashville

Upleger as Dracula with Daniella Zlatarev and Julia Mitchell. Photo by David Bailey, Courtesy Nashville Ballet.

 

If anyone has blood lust, it's Dracula. In Paul Vasterling's version of the tale for Nashville Ballet, the title vampire, danced by Jon Upleger, also has pointed feet and a generous plié. For the first time since 2007, Dracula returns to Nashville Ballet Oct. 22-24. For Pointe's biweekly newsletter, we spoke with Upleger about this macabre revival.

What did you do outside of the studio to prepare?
Paul Vasterling liked the gothic feel of Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, so I watched that movie. The thing I really like about that version, as opposed to the novel, is the big connection, love-story wise, between Dracula and Mina. He's powerful, and he takes advantage of others when it suits him. But with Mina, there's definitely a longing for something else, to want something good.

How would you describe the ballet in a nutshell?
This version is going for the heightened emotions. You've got good, which is Jonathan and Mina. And on the other side is Dracula, who's inherently evil. But there are also moments when even the good slips into the bad. Paul worked with the idea that everybody is evil, and they're trying to be good for society. It gives more layers to the ballet. 

Is there anything special about Dracula's costume?
I love getting to work with a cape. We jokingly call it cape-ography. I'm trying to not just lug the thing around but to get it to move well with me, so it fulfills and sustains my steps. When I turn, it floats after me and makes the motion that much bigger. And it has quite a bit of weight to it, which really changes the timing of my movement.
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