“I have always loved vampires,” says Heather Maloy. Tales about vampires in love may be all the rage due to the recent popularity of the Twilight books and movies, but for Maloy, artistic director of Asheville’s Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance, a vampiric obsession is nothing new.
“We love to be terrified of vampires and we are drawn in by the cultish aspect, but we have little knowledge of the history behind our obsession,” says Maloy. “Nearly every culture has tales of immortals who feed on human blood. From Africa to Alaska there are myths of those who return from the grave, but seldom before the story Vampyre were they humanistic or able to pass in society, and never were they this sexy.”
Maloy is referring to her contemporary dance troupe’s upcoming production of Vampyre, based on John William Polidori’s story of the same name, published in 1819. Polidori’s main character, the suave, charismatic Lord Ruthven, may have been modeled after Lord Byron.
“It was a relatively unknown story and yet the original story that has inspired all vampire literature. I was instantly intrigued by both the plot itself and its historical significance,” Maloy explains. “I am shocked that I never knew that the persona of the sexy, aristocratic and hypnotic blood sucker was actually a statement on the personality of a real person.”
Terpsicorps Theater of Dance is Asheville’s professional contemporary ballet company. After earning critical acclaim with gothic performances of Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this dark tale of love, death and immortality seemed like a natural next step.
Vampyre will be set in a world that has the aesthetic of a modern day fashion show. As the setting moves from the heights of London society to the ruins of Ancient Greece and a haunted forest, fashion will be used to portray the scenery as well as the characters. “Our forest is conveyed by beautiful women in gowns that trail down their 5-foot tall platforms with head dresses made out of branches that reach towards a total height of 14 feet,” says Maloy.
“Today’s fashion is greatly inspired by gothic style, but with a modern bent. Vampyre will be the same,” says Maloy. She says goth style is many faceted. “I discovered many new trends, including gothic Lolitas where Japanese women dress like little girls from the 18th century. Some styles are more modern and harsh, but I tend to go for the romantic goth look. Laces, frilly collars and corsets are sensual and timeless. There is that element of dressing up that is so forgotten in most of today’s clothing. Dressing up a little outrageously is just fun and most of today’s clothes are boring; a repeat of the ’80s repeating the ’60s. Why not repeat the 18th century instead?”
The ghoulishly goth fun won’t just be confined to the Diana Wortham Theatre June 23-25, as there is a Gala Opening Night Celebration, Zombie Bowl-a-thon and catered Vampyre’s Ball associated with the performance.
Maloy doesn’t necessarily want to scare her audience, but she does hope seeing Vampyre will get their blood pumping. “I want people to have fun, get a little adrenaline rush if I do it right, and realize that good, innovative ballet is not boring,” she says. “If they walk away with a new understanding of the history of the vampire legend, all the better.
She also hopes to draw in some new fans. Sometimes you have to find the right way to get someone into the theater in order for them to know they will like something. That said, this is a huge production and probably my most daunting undertaking. My hopes are that not only will it be our greatest show to date, but that it will create some new Terpsicorps fans, ones who had no idea they loved dance.”
Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance presents Vampyre June 23-25, 8pm at the Diana Wortham Theatre $30 (discounted prices for seniors, students and children) Call 828-257-4530 or visit www.dwtheatre.com.
Gala Night on June 23, 7pm, includes pre-show champagne toast and backstage tour, VIP tickets for the show and after party at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar. $75.
Feathers & Fangs: The Vampyre’s Ball on June 11, 7:30pm Scandals nightclub. Vampire-themed masquerade ball featuring a fashion show with costumes and dancers from Vampyre and food by Mela. $25 in advance, $28 at the door. The Zombie Bowl on July 12, 2pm Star Lanes, Kellelworth Road, Asheville. Bowling fundraising event for Terpsicorps.