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Dayton Ballet’s Dracula a bloodchilling Goth gala

We all know that Dracula was a blood-sucking ghoul.  He wandered about either turning victims into zombies or cavorting with his harem of highly active vampirettes. Perhaps his most redeeming feature was that, in all of his personae, he was remarkably well dressed.

This elegant fiend seems to have found a special home with Dayton Ballet.  Dayton Ballet dance icon Stuart Sebastian created Dracula, the ballet, in 1990.  It was his final work before his untimely death in 1991.

Stuart and Executive Director Dermot Burke share the enthusiasm for full-length story ballets.  Both see the artistic and box office advantages of these appealing dance forms.  Stuart created many such works for Dayton Ballet.  Dermot is devoted to creating a repertory of staged ballets for Dayton.

For Dayton Ballet’s devoted fans, Dracula is anything but a monster.  He is always one of the company’s most handsome dancers.  Instead of scaring the audience, his antics are pure artistic entertainment with plenty of Gothic special effects.

Dracula has been revived a number of times and remains a great favorite.  This evocation of Sebastian’s eerie tale had all of the familiar settings and actions. Somehow, it seemed even more appealing than remembered.  

The Dayton Ballet dancers must be central to that enhancement.  The company is complete with wonderful dancers.  In addition to their technical and artistic brilliance, they are well steeped in dramatic action and expression.  

To keep Sebastian’s concept and tradition alive, Dermot asked a quartet of former Dayton Ballet greats to share their experiences with Dracula, the ballet, and Stuart Sebastian, the choreographer and friend.  It was so wonderful to see Laura Frock Hinders, Megan McCarthy and Daniel Powers who were in the original Dracula cast.

They were joined by Sharon Lancaster, a veteran of many Sebastian ballets, now the company’s Ballet Mistress.  Seeing these beautiful people and re-experiencing the familiar but always appreciated Dracula was a real treat.

The ballet was double cast to spread the rigors over the four performances.  While I saw only the opening night, I can testify that both casts were equally superb.  That is the mark of Dayton Ballet.  

As Dracula, Justin Koertgen continued as one of the company’s “macho men.”   His harem - Keenan McLaren, Christy Forehand and Ashley Sass - all were decked out in menacing costumes, wigs and expressions which could not hide their natural beauty.

Their first victim was the naïve Renfield, danced by Justin Allen.  One bite from Dracula and his ladies turned him into a quivering, shaking and very athletic dancer. His machinations, bouncing about the stage in mock horror, were simply irrepressible.  

The beautiful Lucy, always the prize role in spite of having a wooden stake pounded thorough her heart in the finale, was danced by the truly beautiful Jennifer Grund. Lucy, and her friends Halliet Slack and Rino Shinozaki-Greenwoood were magnificently costumed in elaborate ball gowns.

In spite of yards of satin, they were able to dance elegantly and expressively.  They were joined by their equally well-dressed men friends.  Robert Morrow, Richard Grund and Eduard Forehand partnered their ladies in stately dances and joined them as they were horror stricken by Dracula’s malevolent actions.    

As much as I enjoyed and commend Dracula, I cast my ballot this season for more repertory ballets.  I agree with Dermot about the box-office appeal of the full-length productions.  In this democracy, I still cast my vote for letting this talented company dance their hearts out.

Poetry of the Sufi Rumi

The arts opportunities never end and they take many forms.  The Dayton Islamic Center and The Dayton Mercy Mosque presented a unique program last week.  They celebrated the poetry of the Sufi Rumi in music and in stunning readings of his poetry in Persian and in English.  

The lofty and spiritual words of Rumi, a 13th Century Persian poet and philosopher, have swept into the vernacular of our times.  Some state that he is the most widely read poet in America today.  

The presentation featured the traditional music of the era by a nay, a reed flute, and two interesting drums. Composer Jeff Olmstead and his daughter Grace performed original songs set on the poetry of Rumi.

Most engaging was the fluent and melodious reading of the poetry in the original language by Dr. Mohammed Matakallem.  His mellifluous voice enhanced the natural poetry of Farsi and his sensitive translations were uplifting.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Wright State Theatre has done it again.  Their opening musical is Thoroughly Modern Millie.  It is a look back from the 60s to an even earlier day when musicals celebrated glorious fluff, happy endings and just plain flapper fun.

The Muse Machine mounted an excellent “Millie” in 2007.  Did I need another dose of one-dimensional and somewhat silly joy?  Perhaps I was a bit jaded waiting for the overture and curtain.  It took about three minutes for me to be completely enveloped in the effervescent beauty of the youthful talent and their joyous message.  

Simply stated, Director Joe Deer, himself a dancing phenomenon, teamed with Choreographer Teressa McWilliams to make enough energy to light a city.  The evening was non-stop dance, non-stop comedy, and non-stop singing played on a revolving stage which was also non-stop.

How can all of these phenomenons be going perpetually together?  Don’t ask me.   My only answers are the talents of students Melissa Grochowski, Matt Kopec, Jerome Doerger, Lindsay Flick, Elyse Dawson, Anthony Lopez, Jonathan Ramos, Maddie Paul and a few dozen of their great friends.  

The show runs through November 16th.  Don’t miss it – you’ll even get a Chinese language lesson, as well.

New exhibit at Link Gallery

Link Gallery, an art gallery in the Oregon Arts District and home to a group of Dayton’s most notable artists, presents the new exhibit, Mediated Landscape, an exhibit of sculpture and drawings by Stefan Chinov, assistant professor of sculpture and drawing at Wright State University, and mixed media drawings and prints by Jon Swindler, formerly assistant professor of printmaking and drawing at Wright State University and now on the faculty of the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art.  

The exhibit explores Chinov’s interpretations of the physicality of landscape and Swindler’s transitory observations of synthetically altered landscapes.  This exhibit is linked to The Five Rivers Metro Parks, which is dedicated to the protection and stewardship of the Miami Valley’s natural and cultural heritage.

Exhibit Dates: Nov. 7 – Nov. 29
First Friday Event: Nov. 7, 5-10 p.m.
Artist Gallery Talk/Reception: Saturday, Nov. 8, 7-8 p.m.

Link Gallery Hours:
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 5–7:30 p.m.
Saturday 3-7:30 p.m.
By appointment: 224-7707 or email

Link Gallery is located at 519 East Fifth Street, Oregon Arts District, Dayton, OH 45402.

Opera Buffet offered Nov. 7 at UD

Come see a sampling of various opera styles spanning 300 years during An Evening of Scenes from Operas thorough the Centuries at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, and Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Kennedy Union Boll Theatre.

“The program showcases the variety of styles during the 300-plus years of opera history and ranges from silliness to high drama.  This is a great introduction to the world of opera and very appropriate for the entire family,” according to directors Linda Snyder and David Sievers. It is free and open to the public. The fully staged and costumed performances feature 17 singers who will perform excerpts, sung in English, from Carmen, The Merry Widow, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, Little Women and Candide, among others.

The UD Opera Workshop has performed for the National Opera Association and at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton and gives an annual “Opera-on-Wheels” tour for area schools.

For more information, contact the UD Department of Music at 937-229-3936.

Kuss String Quartet at DAI Nov. 8

Vanguard Concert presents in concert the Kuss String Quartet from Germany on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008 8 p.m. at The Dayton Art Institute NCR Renaissance Auditorium.

The Kuss Quartet is recognized as among the truly top-ranked European String Quartets on the musical scene.

Founded in 1991 at the Hanns-Eister Academy in Berlin, they studied with the Alben Berg Quartet and Walter Levin of the LaSalle Quartet. After hearing the Quartet perform at Hamburg, Martha and Paul Katz, formerly of the esteemed Cleveland
Quartet, invited the members to study with them at Boston’s New England Conservatory in their String Quartet program.

They have an established and celebrated relationship with the actor Udo Samel with whom they explore the subtle and homogenous discourse between music and literature. In October 2008, a CD combining music of Berg, Webern and Beethoven with lyrics by Bertolt Brocht will be released by Sony.

Their program will be:

Quartet in D Major, Op. 64, No. 5 - “Lark” Haydn
Quartet No. 2, Op. 17 Bartok
Quartet in A minor, Op. 29, No. 1, D. 804 - “Rosamunde” Schubert

Ticket prices are $20.00 for adults, $15.00 for students and may be purchased at Hauer Music, 120 S Patterson Blvd., Wright State University Box Office. Tickets will be sold at The Dayton Art Institute the night of the concert only, or online at

For additional information or tickets, please call 937-436-0244 or 937-512-0144.

Nutcracker Ball slated Nov. 8 at Dayton Marriott

Dayton Ballet hosts annual Nutcracker Ball on Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Dayton Marriott from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.  WHIO TV on-air personality, Danielle Elias will emcee the evening that celebrates Dayton Ballet’s Education and Outreach programs. Join Dayton Ballet for an evening full of fine food, dancing to the music of Fifth Avenue and silent auction, highlighted by live performances by the Dayton Ballet Company.

Dress is black tie and patrons will be able to bid on auction items including a guest role as Mother Ginger in one of the 2008 Nutcracker performances, a golf package to the 2009 Masters Tournament Augusta National Golf Club, cookbooks by the Dayton Ballet dancers and much more. In 2007 over $81,000 was raised through the Nutcracker Ball benefiting Dayton Ballet’s Young Audience Programs, Dayton Ballet School expenses, and supporting a variety of educational outreach activities.   “This year we hope to reach over $90,000 for Dayton Ballet’s many long-standing outreach and educational programs [that bring] the arts to community members who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience dance,” says event Co-Chair Dr. Cynthia Levy. She and Co-Chair Mary Jane Henson have volunteered for Dayton Ballet for many years and find one of the highlights during their years of service is the Nutcracker Ball.

Tickets for the Nutcracker Ball are $250/ per person or $2,500 for a table of ten. For more information, call Cheryl Hainey, Director of Resource Development, at 937-449-5060 or email at

Tickets for Dayton Ballet’s The Nutcracker are on sale now at Ticket Center Stage, 937-228-3630 or online at The Nutcracker runs at the Schuster Center from Dec. 12-14, 2008 and Dec. 19-21, 2008. For more information regarding tickets, call 937-228-3630.

CMYS party to precede Carmina Quartet concert

Chamber Music Yellow Springs will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a free party before the concert by the Carmina String Quartet on Sunday, Nov. 9 at the First Presbyterian Church, 314 Xenia Avenue, in Yellow Springs. The celebration begins at 5:45 p.m. with delicious treats and accolades to the organization’s founders. The entire audience is invited; no reservation needed.

At 7:30 p.m., the Carmina Quartet from Zurich will perform Haydn’s Quartet Opus 76 No.5, a new quartet by young Swiss-born jazz saxophonist Daniel Schnyder, and the String Quintet by Franz Schubert, one of the most admired of all compositions.

Award-winning cellist Chiara Enderle will play second cello. Violist Wendy Champney of Yellow Springs is a founder of the Carmina Quartet (originally the Carmina Trio.)  She is the daughter of composer and long-time Yellow Springs News editor Ken Champney and violist Peg Champney, who is part of the management of the Friends Music Camp.  She is thus the granddaughter of pianist  Ava English of Antioch College’s English Trio.  Chiara Enderle is her daughter, representing the fourth generation of this Yellow Springs musical dynasty.

WSU Professor Charles Larkowski will again give the free pre-concert lecture at 6:45. There will be a post-concert reception with gourmet dinner, for which a phone reservation is required: Call (937) 374-8800.  The simple supper of soup and bread will be pre-empted by the anniversary party for this concert only.

The single-ticket price is $18 for adults and $6 for students.  However, tickets are scarce and a phone reservation is advisable.  “Short-season” tickets for the remaining four concerts of the CMYS series will be on sale for $60, adults and $20, students.

Visit and for more information.

St. Paul’s doors open for Artist Series

Please mark your calendars for the upcoming concerts in the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Artist Series, and spread the word that St. Paul’s doors are open, providing magnificent music in sacred space for the enjoyment and inspiration of all.

St. Paul’s Artist Series Upcoming Concerts:

November 15, 2008 4:00 p.m.
The Hofeldt-Phillips Piano Trio
Betsey Hofeldt, violin – Mark Hofeldt, cello – Stephen Phillips, piano.
Joined by Clara Hofeldt, violin

February 22, 2009 4:00 p.m.
Musica! Dayton’s professional choral group,
under the direction of Dr. Robert Jones

April 1, 2009 7:00 p.m.
Due Colori
Megan Monaghan, soprano – Daniel Boring, guitar


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