Deliciously dark dance show brings Dracula to the stage
Renowned choreographer Mark Bruce has taken Bram Stoker's dark Gothic tale of the vampire Count Dracula as the basis for his new work.
The Mark Bruce Company's 10 dancers will bring the haunting, erotic tale to life in a heart wrenching and magical dance theatre production.
Jonathan Goddard plays the infamous Dracula, whose sinister and ruthless ambitions challenge the very fabric of Victorian society.
As his victims and opponents rally against him they must face the darkness and savagery within themselves.
Jonathan Goddard talks to Your Time about his career in dance and taking on the role of Count Dracula.
How did you begin dancing?
Jonathan: I began dancing at the age of five in Hastings were I grew up – I would jump around to music at the back of a local keep-fit class attended by my mother.
There was a creative movement group in the same venue on other evenings and it was suggested that I might like to give that a go.
What made you decide that dance was something you'd like to pursue as a profession and tell us a little bit about how you trained?
After studying dance locally, at the age of eleven I became a Royal Ballet Junior Associate, I found the competitive nature of the ballet classes difficult and the training hard, so when offered the chance of a full time place at White Lodge I decided not to go. My parents were supportive and I continued normal schooling, taking dance lessons on the side.
After GCSEs I decided that I would like to try and pursue dance as a career, I loved the rigor and physical training in the class work that sits alongside pure expression and although I enjoyed academic study, the challenge of trying to conquer a 'technique' which in my case mostly did not come naturally, appealed to me.
At 16 auditioned for a place at a full time training course, but was turned down by all the classical schools, which was tough. Rambert and London Contemporary Dance Schools offered me places but as I was unable to gain a scholarship to pay for the LCDS fees, I opted to train at Rambert which was free. The training was fantastic it came as a shock as I had never done any contemporary dance before. Faced with a whole new technique I resolved to try and achieve a good standard in both classical and modern styles.
You've had a very successful career, what would you pick as your greatest highlight to date?
I have had many different highlights but I think becoming the first modern dancer to be recognised as Best Male Dancer by the Critics Circle was pretty special.
To break through a glass ceiling and be recognised alongside ballet stars like Carlos Acosta (who had won the year before) was very gratifying. Collecting the award at the Royal Opera House was also the icing on the cake.
Had you read Bram Stoker's Dracula when you were approached to dance the role?
No I hadn't read the book.
How have you prepared to play Dracula?
I read the book! I've consciously steered away from watching any Dracula films, I have been getting inspiration from a variety of different sources – Walter Sickert music hall paintings, nature documentaries etc.
I am keen to just see what comes up as an interpretation within myself and work with Mark to realise his vision of the story which is very strong ... on the vampire front I did actually have a re-listen toThe Lost Boys' soundtrack – maybe that counts!
Many of your previous roles have been in more abstract contemporary dance productions. Are you enjoying working with a narrative?
I am really enjoying working with narrative – it is interesting having performed and created a lot of abstract dance, which I have always tried to make speak and communicate.
I am enjoying putting my attention into the minutiae: how Dracula might move (or indeed not move) and watching the skill of Mark as a choreographer as he weaves the narrative though and around that.
The company rehearsed in Frome. How did it go?
It feels like a great community in Frome, which I think, interestingly somehow feeds into the production.
The keys for where I was staying were given to me in an envelope marked "for Dracula".
What's it like being on tour and do you enjoy it?
I do enjoy touring, if it isn't for too long.
I have been touring pretty much non-stop from the past 14 years so I am quite eager to do a little less and stay for longer in just one place.
In this production we have some longer runs in London and Bristol, which is quite unusual in modern dance and something I am really looking forward to.
If you had to choose five words to describe the show, what would they be?
Dark, unpredictable, seductive, humorous and mysterious.
Who do you think would enjoy watching this production?
I think Dracula has a very wide, dark, enduring appeal: it's such a great story that resonates with the need for shadow in all of us.
It can be can be read in so many different ways and Mark's take on the story is definitely going to be quite unique.
This production is such an exciting meeting of many different talents and quite a special moment in time, it definitely shouldn't be missed.
■ For ticket availability and further information visit www.merlintheatre.co.uk.