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Copyright: 2010 Jesse Coss Photography
With ethereal costumes and bewitching movements, Ballet West dancers Haley Henderson Smith, Beau Pearson (as Dracula) and Jacqueline Straughan prepare to present the Utah premiere of Ben Stevenson's "Dracula."

From the velvet cape to the menacing fangs, there is not a more Halloween appropriate character than Count Dracula. That is exactly the reason Ballet West has chosen to bring this frightening vampire to the stage as it presents the Utah premiere of Ben Stevenson’s “Dracula.”

Ballet West’s classical skills are a perfect match for this classic piece. Teamed with wraithlike costumes and foreboding sets and lighting, the dancers of Ballet West have prepared a dynamic telling of this timeless tale to share with local audiences.

Although Bram Stoker’s story of the Transylvanian vampire wreaking havoc in London was originally released in 1897, The New York Times described Stevenson’s “Dracula” as “a Dracula beyond Stoker’s wildest dreams.”

“Stevenson’s ‘Dracula’ is like a ride through the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland,” said Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute. “From the sumptuous scenery and exquisite costumes to the brilliant choreography and storytelling, this thrilling work will leave audiences breathless.”

Stevenson, a former dancer with Britain’s Royal Ballet, wanted to infuse his presentation of “Dracula” with an ominous, Gothic quality. He sought to create an authentic 19th century feel and heavily researched the conventions of ballets from that time. Inspired by German romantic painters, Stevenson brought his ethereal vampire visions into the real world.

Dracula’s life has a uniquely dreadful tone all its own. Stevenson and his creative team yanked this sinister but beloved character straight from book pages and placed him directly on the stage. From Dracula’s threatening crypt and frightening bedroom to the airy dresses of the 18 flying vampire brides, the team ensured that each piece in the theater screams “Dracula.”

Paired with the haunting music of Franz Liszt, this wildly theatrical production is sure to enthrall audiences and highlight the artistic side of Halloween.

“This ballet version of Dracula is live entertainment at its best,” says Sklute, “just scary and provocative enough for adults but not too scary or provocative for children.”

"Dracula" is a performance that will shine for viewers of all ages.

But the stage performance is not the only vampirish experience that Ballet West hopes to share with the public this holiday. In partnership with several local organizations, the ballet company will kick off this spooky season with a two-week “Dracula Festival.”

From craft fairs and library appearances to movie viewings and a blood drive, dancers anticipate sharing their love of “Dracula” with the people of Utah.

Ballet West’s Dracula events include:

* Oct. 10 — Children’s crafts, contests and prizes, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Appearance by Ballet West dancers, 7 p.m, the Sandy Library, 10100 South Petunia Way (1450 East).

* Oct. 13 — Discussion of the “Dracula” story by Sam Dunn, a silent film expert and member of the University of Utah’s critical studies faculty, followed by the film screening of the 1922 silent horror film “Nosferatu,” starring Max Schreck. Presented at the Salt Lake City Library and free and open to the public, 6:30 p.m.

* Oct. 15 — “Children’s Dance Hour” with Ballet West dancers, The King’s English bookstore, 1511 S. 1500 East, 11 a.m.

* Oct. 17 — Blood drive with American Red Cross in the Capitol Theatre lobby, 50 W. 200 South, 2 to 7 p.m.

* Oct. 18 — “Ghost Hunters of Utah” with Wasatch Paranormal Investigators. Learn more about Utah’s own haunted places and listen to authentic, ghostly recordings from local, chilling encounters. Capitol Theatre lobby, 50 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City, 7 p.m.

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* Oct. 19 — “Dracula” double feature with Salt Lake Film Society, including Werner Herzog’s 1979 production of “Nosferatu,” starring Klaus Kinski, followed by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 thriller based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” starring Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, Broadway Center Theater, 111 E. 300 South, 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.

* Oct. 21, 22, 26 – Nov. 1: Ballet West premiere of Ben Stevenson’s “Dracula” at the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South.

Ballet West will give 11 performances of "Dracula" in the Capitol Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City. Ticket prices range from $18 to $75 and may be purchased by calling 801-355-ARTS or by visiting the company’s website at www.balletwest.org.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. You can email her at mddemoux@gmail.com or follow her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.