Ballet Victoria’s production of Frankenstein mixes the gothic horror of the original story with the beauty and mystery of classic romantic ballet Giselle. It runs Oct. 26-28 at the Royal Theatre. Photo and illustration by Derek Ford/Ballet Victoria

Ballet Victoria’s production of Frankenstein mixes the gothic horror of the original story with the beauty and mystery of classic romantic ballet Giselle. It runs Oct. 26-28 at the Royal Theatre. Photo and illustration by Derek Ford/Ballet Victoria

Ballet Victoria brings Frankenstein’s creation to life

Company blends Shelley’s gothic tale with traditional romantic ballet Giselle

Having your dance company’s season opener land near Halloween can be a blessing or curse.

Artistic directors must decide whether to play to its ghoulish appeal, or completely steer away from the juxtaposition of dates.

For Ballet Victoria’s Paul Destrooper, it provided an opportunity to tackle head-on one of the most retold horror stories in English literature and put their own spin on it.

This month’s production of Frankenstein at the Royal Theatre – staged 200 years after the original story was published by Mary Shelley – blends the dark elements of this gothic tale of eternal life and resurrection with the beauty and tragedy of a love story born in death, inspired by the romantic classical ballet, Giselle.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s something that is a great story and it’s kind of fun to do ballets that are a little bit out of the expected,” says Destrooper. Of the pre-Halloween time frame, he adds, “if we do some repertoire that relates to that, people are a little bit more likely be curious.”

ALSO READ: Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

The first act focuses on the doctor and his creation of the creature from a place of great personal pain mixed with blind ambition. It features an eclectic musical accompaniment mix, ranging from contemporary to classical.

“It’s told from the perspective of the monster who’s coming to life and is not understanding where he’s from and what’s going on,” Destrooper explains.

One of the twists in this retelling lies in the makeup of the creature: rather than reanimating the heart of one of the miscellaneous corpses he harvested for its body, Frankenstein uses the organ of an unmarried virgin who died of a broken heart, Giselle.

The second act draws less from the violent latter chapters of the Frankenstein story, and intertwines it with components from Giselle, with the Wilis – the other dead unmarried women – converging on the creature and Frankenstein and helping carry the story to its crescendo.

“It’s a more traditional white ballet; it’s romantic and the women are ethereal – and in this case they are a little bit more powerful,” Destrooper says.

WATCH: Ballet Victoria’s Director’s Choice en point at Royal

With the creature falling for and winning the spirit of the young woman whose heart he bears, it allows for a fun transition reminiscent of the Corpse Bride by Tim Burton. There’s even a bit of dark humour in Act 2, when a meeting between the creature and its maker prompts a mock Darth Vader-Luke Skywalker “I’m your father” scene.

“For the people who are huge ballet aficionados, they are going to see Giselle; they will enjoy the beautiful choreography and be invited to look at a very different version of that story,” notes Destrooper. “It’s neat to do these ballets with a bit more of a narrative that people are familiar with. Then the dancers get to act, on top of the amazing steps they are performing.”

While there is no happy ending to the traditional Frankenstein, he says, “we leave people with a bit of hope. Some of the things that people are so quick to judge have redeeming qualities.”

Ballet Victoria’s Frankenstein plays three shows, Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at balletvictoria.ca, at the Royal and McPherson box office or by phone at 250-386-6121.

editor@mondaymag.com

ballet victoriaDance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

Most Read