Frankenstein brought to life by Ballet Victoria's original production
A gory love story creeps through Ballet Victoria's cutting-edge world premiere of Frankenstein next week in the Cowichan Theatre.
In time for Halloween, dancing choreographer Paul Destrooper and nine dancers stitch together pieces of the classic Frankenstein story, and the tragic Giselle ballet — subtitled A Zombie Love Story.
The result, he explained, is a Gothic production, plus some black humour, that would make morbidly creative movie maker, Tim Burton, proud.
"The classical ballet of Giselle is the original zombie ballet — it's about women who died before they got married and are scorned by their fiance or lover, and died a tragic death," said Destrooper.
Original choreography is set to music from a selected composers Shostakovich, Beethoven and Verdi, plus an homage to Adolphe Adam's score of the ballet Giselle, which BV has never staged.
Frankenstein's costumes basically follow "the look of the corpse dress, so you see skeleton parts of the body," said Destropper.
The monster will sport a deathly pale demeanor, and a scarred body, he explained.
Act one sees Dr. Frankenstein (Eric Hall) making his creature (Matthew Cluff) in the lab — to Mrs. Frankenstein's (Amanda Radetzky) revulsion — using body parts unearthed by Igor (Destrooper) in a cemetery.
One implanted organ is the heart of a young groom from the grave, "and he's the groom for the corpse bride (Andrea Bayne)," said Destrooper.
Their reunion happens in a dream sequence through "the link they have with the heart."
"My character emulates Giselle," said Bayne.
"I'm trying to get across to the audience my love is left at the altar; my husband has died, and I just want to see him again, and that's Frankenstein (the monster)."
Act two infuses ghostly Giselle elements, as the monster flees the lab after accidentally killing Mrs. F.
Frankenstein runs to the cemetery where all his body parts originated.
The corpse bride and her zombie clan recognize pieces of Frankenstein and accept him, Destrooper explained, digging into the ballet's morals.
"The monstrous creature was created by mankind, but he has redeeming qualities.
"Mankind creates things without thinking of the consequences: some for good, like medicine; or for evil, like weapons."
Bayne and Cluff said BV's Frankenstein offers something for everyone.
"As a dancer," said Cluff, "it's really challenging to explore the physical movement as a creature, and make it balletic at the same time with ballet technique.
"There are lots of moments when Dr. Frankenstein creates me where it's a lot more acting, and stiff walking, than dancing — but in act two there's more dancing as the creature evolves.
"The creature loosens up a bit, but it's still the monster."
Bayne found getting the story's drama across was challenging, but "technical aspects of the second act are extremely high."
The magic's in the intertwined tales, she explained.
"People who love the classics will recognize some of the characteristics of Giselle in the second act; people who love Paul's choreography will see that in the first act."
The moral, explained Cluff, is to listen to your heart.
"If you want something really badly, things can ultimately work out for the both of you."
What: Ballet Victoria's Frankenstein
When: Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cowichan Theatre
Tickets: $40, $30 seniors, $20 students, $5 eyeGO. Call 250-748-7529.