El Conde Drácula: A Flamenco Incarnation

Written By Diana Dunbar
November 19, 2018 at 8:27 PM

The atmosphere at the studio of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa is a mixture of a tableau in Spain and an actor’s workshop and everything seems to be occurring at once – with Ilisa Rosal, the Artistic Director of the company, is at the center of it all. The guitarist is playing a tune that appears timeless; the two lead female dancers are working on a duet; now the dancer portraying Drácula enters and the drama begins.

This weekend South Florida audiences has the opportunity to see El Conde Drácula (Count Dracula) in an uncommon incarnation, as a flamenco ballet. Throughout the years there have been many versions inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, including Rosal’s powerful and passionate interpretation. As unlikely as they seem on the surface, Dracula and flamenco do have a lot in common. “Flamenco has a lot of darkness in it – suffering, pain and drama; flamenco covers all of the human emotions,” says Rosal. Dracula also has its darkness: pain and a love attraction between two people from different worlds.

The story of vampires has always had its share of fans. Why are so many fascinated with the story of an elegant count who can also become a creature?  With El Conde Drácula, Rosal has condensed the story without leaving out its essence. All the characters are present: Jonathon Harker (Augustin Barajas), his girlfriend Mina Murray (Maria Mercedes Perez), her friend Lucy Westenra (Emi Grim), Mrs. Murray (Alessandra Torres), Renfield (Juan Mateo), Moreno, (Miguel Aguilera), Dr. Van Helsing (Fran Bass) the Gypsies: Sandra Bara, Cachela Judez, Ivanna Cardenas, and Valeria Sierralta; and Drácula (Pepe Flores.)

On guitar is Miguel Aguilera, while Luis Moreno provides vocals. All the familiar forms of flamenco songs and dances are seen in the production including Bulerias, Tientos, Falseta Cantina and Tangos.

The cast, many of whom are from Spain, have been working by Skype on the production for months. There is a heartfelt connection between the performers, and each cast member speaks of the need to work together, artist to artist. They speak of finding his or her persona and adapting the style of their character.  Many spoke of growing up in the flamenco world. “The roots of flamenco are in the family,” says vocalist Luis Moreno.

The tension builds slowly as Drácula gradually reveals his true self, especially when he bites Lucy. Flores makes for a powerful Drácula: he carries the air of an esteemed count and yet, when he sees blood, the beast within him is unleashed. Flores says he read the book and watched the movie in order to prepare for the role, explaining that “finding sinister in flamenco” was one of his greatest challenges of the role.

Rosal has been presenting narrative flamenco ballets for years now. She is involved in all aspects of the production and with all of the rehearsal process.  In the studio the artists continue working through scenes, repeating movements, looking for a way to bring two diverse mediums together.  They work amicably as a cohesive group, even as day turns to night and, finally, Drácula is afoot at the Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road.

El Conde Drácula, Saturday, November 24, 8:00 pm and Sunday, November 25, 3:00 pm, The Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; Tickets: Advance $35-$25, Door, $40-$30; 786-320-6982/ 800-211-1414;

Photo credit: Alberto Espinosa

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