Behind the Scenes: Building Dracula’s Fight

I think that “building” is a very appropriate verb to use when creating a movement piece like a fight. Similar to putting a structure together, you have to ensure the integrity of all the individual pieces — and even when they are all stellar, the overall structure must be equally fine in order to have the best looking fight or dance or slapstick you can hope for.

We’ve been spending a lot of time on the opening fight for Dracula. It’s understandable — it opens the show, it has a LOT of people involved, and Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula must move like a dream — which takes perfection on all ends.

I love choreographing fights for this company — Dan Istrate, our titular Count, is extremely fast to pick up on ideas and to offer moves of his own, and the ensemble guys — well, it’s the Syneticons, and they generally know what I want as soon as it’s coming out of my mouth, and I generally only have to demonstrate weird inventions once before they get it. It’s making for a relatively fast and safe process of creation — which is paramount.

Dan Istrate as "Dracula"

Dan Istrate as Dracula

Some background — the show opens with a fully living Dracula doing battle with the Turkish invaders of his home country. He fights alone against them, is nearly defeated, but emerges in a fury and shows us the source of the nomer “Vlad the Impaler.”

This being Synetic, we’re using weapons that are more symbolic than realistic, and given the more stylized nature of the show, we can get away with some pretty superhuman feats on the part of our Count. However, the brunt of the work for making it look fantastic does not fall on our Dracula (though Dan has his work cut out for him), but on the perpetually embattled ensemble around him. We’re working with making Dracula’s human form move swiftly and fluidly, an uncatchable ghost in battle — as a result, it’s up to the ensemble to show the guy’s strength.

How so? In my (albeit brief, but intense) experience in creating stage fights, the rule is demonstrated to me again and again — anyone can throw a punch to the right, safe point that looks as if it would hit someone…it’s up to the reaction of the person getting hit to sell it.

If I get what I want, the opening fight will start with a fluid and athletic dance of death by Dracula, punctuated by jarring hits and stunned reactions of his victims.

They get theirs a bit too, no worries. That’s just the beginning…

“I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting.”
– Bram Stoker, Chapter 1, Dracula

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~ by synetictheater on August 10, 2009.

2 Responses to “Behind the Scenes: Building Dracula’s Fight”

  1. Hi.
    I’m not complaining. But why is Synetic doing “Dracula” again & will it be different than the one than was a few years or more ago? Thank you.

    • Why ARE we doing Dracula again?

      Well, first of all, yes it will be different than our previous version — though it follows the same storyline, Paata has been very interested in “updating” some of the better shows from our old repertoire. The reason for remounts are several: they give us a chance to approach old material with new resources, they allow us to bring back some of our favorite work to our new fans who have never seen it, and they give us a chance to rediscover reasons why we do things a certain way — and sometimes change those.

      Artistically speaking, they are a great opportunity, and it is not historically uncommon for theaters to bring back successful shows — especially five years after their former run, when the company has built a significantly larger audience than before!

      I hope this answers your questions — and I hope you come to see all the new stuff we’ve put in the show!

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