Bram Stoker meets Buffy in Nevada Ballet Theatre’s ‘Dracula’

The Nevada Ballet Theatre rehearse for their upcoming performance of “Dracula” at the Smith Center, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018.
Photo: Yasmina Chavez

Nevada Ballet Theatre 'Dracula' Preview

At 6-foot-4 and 5-foot-8, respectively, Steven Goforth and Alissa Dale are two of the tallest dancers in Nevada Ballet Theatre’s professional company. As such, it was natural that the two partner up. Over the past six seasons, the artists have performed together in The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Carousel (A Dance), Seasons, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and more.

“We have worked out a lot of technical things [over the years],” Goforth says of collaboration in a profession where you must trust your partner to literally lift and carry you. “So we can just go on to developing character and not spend as much time working out the mechanics.”

This time around, there are very big characters to develop. In NBT’s Smith Center production of Dracula, Goforth plays the title role and Dale plays Flora, an innocent village girl turned bloodthirsty vampire bride. Boasting elaborate costumes, Gothic set pieces, a score by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and choreography by the famed Ben Stevenson (who personally helped train the dancers), Dracula should fulfill your spookiest of Halloween dreams.

And speaking of spooky, these supernatural characters score some airtime. “I get to fly, which is awesome.” Dale says. “This will be my first time getting to do that. Normally they always choose short girls for flying roles.”

Dale loves enacting Flora’s dramatic arc—from timid country gal to Dracula’s sexy minion. “The most fun part for me is delving into this character and figuring out how to do that transformation,” she says. “I go from totally frightened to, ‘Maybe he’s not so bad,’ to, ‘Wow, I really like this, and now I’m a vampire.’ It’s challenging and rewarding at the same time.”

A gentle giant, Goforth enjoys delving into the dark side. “It’s so much fun to be the bad guy, the villain, the anti-hero,” he says. “To some degree, you want to lure the audience in to be on Dracula’s team. And then it really flips the whole ballet around when you see these sweet, loving peasants [in Act II].”

With so much vampire lore in pop culture, where did our stars find inspiration? Goforth’s portrayal builds on an amalgamation of many different vampires from film and television, which he then adapts and makes larger for the stage. Meanwhile, Dale has a much more specific model: “I draw my character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Dale says. (Don’t be too surprised at the seemingly “low-brow” reference; Dracula was designed to be entertaining, and audience costumes are encouraged, as long as they don’t impede anybody’s view.) “There’s a character in Buffy named Drusilla. She’s kind of sweet but also really scary. I’ve been taking from that concept of being alluring but yet still [plotting] to bite your head off.”

NEVADA BALLET THEATER: DRACULA October 25-27, 7:30 p.m.; October 28, 2 p.m.; $29-$139, Reynolds Hall, 702-749-2000.

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