Columbia City Ballet Dancer Leonardo Victorino Reveals What it Takes to be Dracula

by Christina Xan

Victorino, as Dracula, with Principal Dancer Claire Richards in the role of Lucy Westenra

Victorino, as Dracula, with Principal Dancer Claire Richards in the role of Lucy Westenra

Based closely Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Columbia City Ballet is putting on its annual performance of Dracula this weekend, a show they have been doing for more than two decades.

Last week, I was able to sit down with ballet dancer and company member Leonardo Victorino to talk about what it’s like to get into the role of Dracula, a role he has been playing at CCB for four years.

“I’ve been dancing for 11 years now,” said Victorino, adding that he was inspired by his parents to start dancing, “My parents are musicians, and I grew up in the arts conservatory.”

Victorino experimented with several art genres like painting, violin, and drama, before finally finding the art form that’s enchanted him for the past several years, ballet: “When I was 16, 17 years old I decided to start dancing,” Victorino said, “It was a passion I had but was scared to follow because of negative perceptions. Fortunately, I did it, and it’s the best thing I’ve done.”

When asked why ballet was the art form that spoke to him, he said, “I feel like with ballet, I was able to do all the art I had done in the past in one. I had the drama, the music, the art, and I got to keep moving and expressing myself.”

Though he started dancing seriously as a teenager, Victorino said he believes dance is something that has been inside him since he was born: “When I was a baby, and my mom put me on the bed, she saw me stretching out on the bed,” he paused and smiled, “She thought I looked like a ballet dancer.”

This passion built and built, and he was dancing in a company in Pennsylvania before finding CCB: “I came to Columbia in 2015 when I got offered the job here,” Victorino said, “I immediately started playing Dracula, which was both scary and a huge honor.”

Victorino talked with me about the detailed physical and emotional process it takes for him to get into the role of Dracula: “The moment everyone goes on stage, and I’m left alone, I start getting in the mood of Dracula. As soon as I sit in the chair to start doing my makeup, that’s the moment Leo is leaving, and Dracula is coming,” he shared, “I try to keep far from distractions during the show because the stage is a full-time job. I know I carry the name of the production.”

Furthermore, Victorino shares that he watches documentaries about Dracula as a character and about Bram Stoker as an author so that he can fully understand the mindset of the character: “I’ve learned that to be Dracula I have to feel pleasure in the pain,” he said, “I have to convert the natural in me to the opposite.”

 For Victorino, telling a story through dance is just as and even more important than telling it through words: “Telling a story through dance allows me to express myself without words. The words are kind of dangerous because sometimes you don’t know how to express through them,” he added, “I can express anything inside of me just by movements. I can put out positive and negative energy through my body.”

Victorino also shared with me his two favorite scenes to perform: “The death of Dracula is my favorite scene because of the process of bringing this tragic death to the audience,” he continues, “the second scene where I bite Lucy and she is becoming a vampire is also really fun because we have a very intricate and sensual dance.”

When asked what his goal for the show is Victorino said, “Everything that I’m feeling is important; the stage is the reality for me, and I want to bring this expression as real as I can to touch the audience,” he concluded, “Really, I just hope people come and that they have a good time. Oh, and if they want to see me after the show, I promise I won’t bite!”

To see Victorino and the rest of the production in Columbia City Ballet’s Dracula, get your tickets to attend either Friday, October 26th or Saturday, October 27th.


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Jake Margle Offers a Run-Down on Artsy Halloween Events

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli As Halloween approaches the Capitol City, venues and various stomping grounds are rolling out their festive best. From Columbia’s modest holes-in-the-wall to our more grandiose institutions, here are just a few of the smattering of events taking place on this Hallo-weekend.


The Tapp’s Center prides itself on tasteful, informing events, and their Halloween special is no different. On Friday they will be hosting Hell’s Belle’s, an event that will combine art–both visual and performing–and discussion. The evening starts at 7 and will be dedicated to exploring and showcasing the history of witchcraft, with the discussion centered around, “exploring feminine identity.” Columbia’s own Ritual Abjects will be conducting a sigil workshop and performance piece. There will be tarot and palm readings as well. Costumes are not mandatory, but encouraged. All donations from the evening will go towards the Tapp’s Nonprofit Programming and Auntie Bellum magazine, SC’s women’s magazine.


Toast Improv is putting on a special Halloween show, Friday at the Benson Theater. Doors open at 8:30 to a $5 cover. The show starts at 9, and according to Toast’s Facebook page, will be very “spoopy”–a term meaning comedic and spooky. Concessions will be provided, and if you know anything about Toast, so will the talent and laughs. Those weary of a cover charge will be pleased to know that all proceeds will be donated to aid the flood relief efforts in Columbia.


On Saturday the State Museum will again be hosting its annual Tricks and Treats gathering. If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly offering, look no further. All day the museum will be hosting a scavenger hunt, potions lab, crafts, balloon art, and a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Columbia Marionette Theatre. Costumes are encouraged as well, with any child under 12 and in costume receiving $1 off admission.


2015 marks the fourth year of Sid & Nancy’s Halloween Explosion. A dance-filled evening starting at 8:30 on Saturday at New Brookland Tavern is sure to put anyone in a festive mood. Music will be provided by local DJ’s Alejandro Florez, Christian Barker, and QT Kapowski. Fort Psych, Columbia’s event and media gurus will supplementing the music with light displays as well. There will be a photo booth set up, so bring your costume game. The two most creative costumes will receive gift certificates to Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, with first place winning a $100 credit, second place receiving a $60 credit. Those fearful of standing need not worry, as the “most basic” will receive a $10 gift card to Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target. There will be a $5 cover for those 21 and up, $10 for under 21. All proceeds will benefit Girls Rock Columbia.


The Whig is hosting the aptly and creatively named Whigoween Saturday at 9. Columbia’s favorite hidden gem is keeping tight-lipped on the details, but costumes are most definitely encouraged.

And there's always the Columbia City Ballet's performance of Draculapreviewed earlier this week by Alivia Seely.

-- Jake Margle

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.

Drac is Back! At the Koger for the next three nights -- by Abby Davis



The dark and delightful Dracula is back! Columbia City Ballet presents Dracula: Ballet With A Bite at the Koger Center Thursday, October 30th through Saturday, November 1st at 7:30 pm each night.


Columbia City Ballet’s Artistic and Executive Director William Starrett transformed Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel into a classic and captivating performance. Premiering in 1991, Dracula has since become both a Columbia favorite and a widespread phenomenon. As stated by Dance Magazine, “This entertaining extravaganza guarantees a good time.” The performance is sexy, spellbinding, and an incredibly fun experience for all, appealing to both ballet aficionados and newcomers simply seeking some Halloween fun and entertainment.


Dracula’s 19th year is sure to deliver just as much of a brilliant bite as in years past. The show features many returning cast members as well as some fresh new faces. Autumn Ingrassia, Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, and Claire Richards are this year’s beautiful maidens. Regina Willoughby, a company favorite, returns as Lucy Westenra, and Claire McCaa is back as Mina Hanker. While your eyes might be focused on the gorgeous and scantily clad dancers, the visuals and lighting are equally spectacular. The spooky visuals have been designed by Columbia City Ballet’s own Technical Director, Ryan Stender, and Lighting Designer Aaron Pelzek has also contributed his touch to Transylvania.

Regina Willougby as Lucy Westeren

























T his haunting extravaganza is the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit and kick off the holiday season. If you want to dive into the spirit of the season even more, be sure to participate in the annual costume contest during Saturday’s performance.


Tickets can be purchased at Capitol Tickets, online at, or by calling (803)-251-2222 and range from $15-$42. University students are encouraged to take advantage of special discount student pricing on Thursday, October 30th: all tickets are $10 with a valid student i.d.


- By Abby Davis

Win tickets to see Chris Mann + other goodies by joining the Jasper Guild TODAY!

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Jasper is having a Guild Drive and everybody wins!

Join the Jasper Guild by noon on Saturday, October 19th -- at any level -- and be entered to win the following:


  • TWO TICKETS to see The Voice star Chris Mann in concert at the Newberry Opera House on Sunday, Oct. 20th at 3 PM

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  • TWO TICKETS to Columbia City Ballet's presentation of Dracula  (with new music & choreography starring TV's Grant Show as Dracula)


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  • A 2013 2nd Act Film Festival DVD film collection & new MFP publication Jasper presents The 2nd Act Film Festival Screenplays, edited by Wade Sellers and Cindi Boiter

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  • A copy of The Limelight:  A Compendium of Contemporary Columbia Artists, volume 1 (MFP, 2013)


And since


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