Blood spills and terror continues as Dracula returns to the stage at Columbia City Ballet -- by Alivia Seely


Dial up the babysitter and put on the Halloween costume, because this weekend is the 20th anniversary of the Columbia City Ballet’s production of Dracula and it is one that should not be missed.

Back in Columbia, South Carolina for three nights, this year’s production has even more to offer than in years past. With a new technical director, new costumes, a new Count Dracula dancer and even a new character, William Starrett, Executive and Artist Director for the Columbia City Ballet, has pulled “a lot more meat” out of the classic Bram Stoker novel for this year’s show.

“We have a very heavy blend of contemporary movement with classical ballet as a foundation. My goal always is to get the dancer to learn the steps quickly so I can coach them on the quality of the steps and what we bring to the steps and the complexity of the story telling,” said Starrett.

An entire new section was added with the addition of the new character named Renfield, who lives in the basement of Count Dracula and eats bugs and small animals. Along with Renfield, danced by Reinaldo Soto, company member of the Columbia City Ballet, came some new music and original choreography.

But the surprises do not stop there. The new costumes, that clothe 22 dancers, are composed of loose sleeves and large tulle skirts that add dimensions when paired with the movement.

“The costumes for the undead and Maidens have big full skirts, long flowing sleeves, and require the dancers to wear their hair down. As a maiden, I have a lot of tricky partnering to do as well, so the most challenging aspect for me is dealing with both of those things together,” said Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, soloist for the Columbia City Ballet.

This year Boiter-Jolley is playing the role of the Purple Maiden, one of Dracula’s three wives.  “I love getting to become someone, or in this case, something else. I get to be this vicious seductress who shows no mercy. It's a very physical role which I love,” said Boiter-Jolley.

As the tradition continues, everyone at the ballet, including Starrett, encourages the audience members to come dressed in their Halloween costume of choice.

“We have a huge audience in Columbia, which is why we continue to bring Dracula back,” said Starrett.

Tickets are still available through the Koger Center box office for all three performances on Thursday Oct. 29 at 7 p.m., Friday Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday Oct. 31 at 8:30 p.m. So grab a ticket and sink your teeth into the story of Dracula.