Twilight Tango: Requiem for a Vampire ballet in Victoria poster

The World Premiere of Ballet Victoria’s Twilight Tango

If vampires could dance, they would surely do the tango, which is arguably the world’s most sexy and sultry style of ballroom dancing.

The tango is a passionate, sensuous dance for two that originated in the late 19th century in Argentina and Uruguay, and later became popular in Europe and North America in the early 20th century. It was originally influenced not only by Spanish culture but also by African slave rhythms, and was performed to a hybrid of European music.

Twilight Tango, the newest creation by Ballet Victoria’s prolific artistic director, Paul Destrooper, premieres on Oct 22-24 at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria, then plays at the Cowichan Theatre in Duncan on Oct 29th. The dance blends the stylized movements of stage tango with the elegance and formalism of ballet.

The real twist, though, is the work’s darkly romantic vampire theme, and the title is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the popular Twilight series of novels and feature films. It’s certain to put audiences in the right mood for Halloween at the end of the month.

“The vampire theme for this ballet came out of the history of tango and its dark, underground beginnings,” Destrooper explains. “It also has tremendous sensuality and a dark flavor, much like red wine, port, blood. Love and death in French, l’amour et la mort, share very close phonetic similarities and of course are linked through every story from the beginning of time.”

The entire company performs the world premiere of this ensemble ballet—Destrooper, Andrea Bayne, Robb Beresford, Tao Kerr, Geoff Malcolm, Amanda Radetzky, Christie Wood, Natsuki Murase, Misato Wakamatsu and newcomers David Biels, Brichelle Brucker and Vimala Jeffery-Howe.

Bayne performs as a vampire’s object of desire as well as one of the undead.

“I have actually never done any tango whatsoever before so it will be an exciting new experience for me!” says Bayne. “My saving grace is that, because we are a ballet company, we will not be actually doing actual tango, just contemporary movement with a tango flair (which I love).

“But no high heels for me,” she says with a grin. “I’ll stick to pointe shoes.”

Bayne & Destrooper performing Balanchine's ballet “Belong”

Bayne & Destrooper performing Balanchine’s ballet “Belong”

Destrooper says the dance was inspired by a previously unrecorded and unpublished musical score…resurrected from the dead, one might say. “My uncle (Paul Destrooper Sr.) is a tango fanatic, old Argentine tango, and he co-wrote a full mass in tango with a friend, Ruy Boff. The music is beautiful and I was very drawn to the score. I don’t actually dance the tango but I’m interested in the music and what it offers for choreography.” Pianist/arranger Danny Jordan and violinist Pablo Diemecke are performing the arrangement of the tango mass as well as an arrangement of other scores. “Danny and I realized that we also needed some music with very different flavors to create a stronger narrative so we began to hunt down some forgotten tango scores that spoke to us,” adds Destrooper.

“Together we built a full piece that would work well for the ballet. We also decided to work with Pablo Diemecke again because of his immense talent and also because of his knowledge and Latin blood! It will be quite magic when it all comes together on stage.”

Other works on the program include a new ballet called Midnight Song by Bruce Monk, Amsterdam, with music by Jacques Brel, and excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, with music by Tchaikovsky.