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Monday, December 05, 2022

‘Dracula’ ballet adaptation encourages blood donations

It’ll play at the Phillips Center Saturday

<p>Dance Alive National Ballet has partnered with LifeSouth, a non-profit community blood bank that supplies hospitals in Florida.</p>

Dance Alive National Ballet has partnered with LifeSouth, a non-profit community blood bank that supplies hospitals in Florida.

Dracula wants your blood. But, this time, it’s to help the community.

Dance Alive National Ballet is ready to welcome the Halloween season with its adaptive performance of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” Dracula will hit the stage Saturday at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 

As a nod to Dracula’s thirst for blood, Dance Alive National Ballet has partnered with LifeSouth, a non-profit community blood bank that supplies hospitals in Florida — especially the Gainesville area. If residents decide to donate, they can receive two free tickets to the show. 

Judy Skinner, the co-founder of Dance Alive National Ballet, said the company has incorporated many different causes into past performances and wanted to do the same for this show. 

Blood is synonymous with “Dracula,” she said, so the blood drive element makes sense in terms of the show. 

“I made the decision to partner with LifeSouth because we were looking for ways to collaborate with other institutions in a meaningful way,” she said. “LifeSouth was a no-brainer.” 

The actors who play Dracula and his three brides worked their way through Gainesville Friday afternoon, spreading the word about the upcoming performance and encouraging community members to donate blood. Their trip started with an appearance in Turlington Plaza and ended at LifeSouth Community Blood Center, located at 1221 NW 13th St. 

LifeSouth recorded 30 donors Friday, Skinner said. 

There has been a low supply of blood donations nationwide — a shortage only worsened by Hurricane Ian, Skinner said. LifeSouth supplies all the blood to hospitals in the area, so the low supply affects patients across Gainesville.  

“Just one donation can go to four different people in four different ways,” Skinner said.  

“Dracula,” which includes both ballet and contemporary dance, is mostly based on Stoker’s 1897 novel. Kim Tuttle, Dance Alive National Ballet’s artistic director, choreographed the performance, adding some elements that stray from the original source material in order to make it more entertaining for audiences.  

Dance Alive company members and UF students Emilia Leon and Alison Tucker will perform onstage amongst the cast of “Dracula.” 

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Leon, a 20-year-old UF computer science junior, and Tucker, an 18-year-old UF business freshman, both play nightmare creatures who appear in Dracula’s dream. Both roles are not in the original novel but were added into the performance by Tuttle.

The technical elements of the show, Leon said, are what she most hopes audience members appreciate.

“There are really cool sets, which is exciting for the audience,” she said. “The costumes are elaborate. I am excited for people to see it.” 

The dancers’ embody the characters thoroughly, and their hard work is what truly brings the performance to life, Tucker said. 

“Dance Alive [National Ballet] has so much personality on the stage,” she said.”It takes your breath away.” 

There will be one more opportunity to donate blood from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday outside the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Donors will receive two tickets that can be used for any Dance Alive National Ballet performance at the Phillips Center — including “Dracula.”

Tickets cost between $27 and $49, with discounted rates for children, UF students and seniors. 

Contact Naomi at nvolcy@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @volcyn_.

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