Like the title implies, "The Blood Countess" tells the story of an evil woman whose vanity makes her stop at nothing to preserve her beauty. While shocking, the gore factor is kept at a PG-13 rating for audiences, explains lead actress Tara Lally of Fairport.
"No one murders anyone this time," she adds with a laugh.
The ballet will debut on May 20 at Nazareth College. It will be performed by the Rochester City Ballet and the concept and choreography were developed by artistic director Jamey Leverett of Webster. The story is based on the real life of the late 16th-century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Báthory who is said to have killed more than 600 women, believing that bathing in the blood of virgins was the secret to eternal youth.
In this fictional tale, Count Dracula crosses paths with the countess and falls under her cruel influence as she orders him to do her bloody bidding.
Now 26, she has been dancing with the Draper Center for Dance Education since the age of 7, and this is her first major role in a RCB production.
What has it been like for you to play a villain like the countess?
It's been fun to play her. She's definitely very evil and powerful. I think the one thing I've realized is that she was a real person who did these things. This drew me to bring her to life through this role, so it's been fun and challenging.
What makes this leading role different from the others you've played?
This is definitely my biggest role, and it's the most dancing I've ever done in one show (laughs). It takes lots of stamina.
You don't have any speaking parts during the 90-minute performance. Does that make it difficult?
It's all through dance, so acting has a huge play in this. It's very hard to do it without using words so it's a huge challenge to portray everything by just using your body language and facial expressions...It's an aggressive ballet. There are a lot of violent movements.
Do you think the trend of vampire fiction will help draw interest from the audience?
I think that's part of the appeal of the show. But aside from the whole vampire theme, this play has to do with the history of Dracula — this took place before he became Dracula and shows how (my character) drove him to become Dracula. So it really has more meaning than biting.