Local troupes take a scary step into Halloween spirit - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Local troupes take a scary step into Halloween spirit

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2005 6:46 am | Updated: 9:43 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Tis the season for vampires, zombies and superheroes — and you're invited to celebrate with spooky-themed shows by Nebellen Dance Company and Scorpius Dance Theatre this weekend.


Company co-directors Ben Howe and Ellen Rath have renamed their popular “Mixer” show “Mixer with a Twist” after adding a new feature.

The twist?: “We're telling the audience to wear costumes to this show,” Rath says. “There is a portion of the show where we're going to go into the audience, and pick out people to come up and dance with us on stage.” This company of 17 dancers is known for its ultramodern moves.

The show will include break dancing (also known as “b-boying”), hip-hop, classical ballet, martial arts and freestyle dancing. “It's very ‘short-attention-span’ theater. All of the pieces are high-energy, and there is something for everyone,” Rath says. Imagine superheroes and supervillains fighting each other through break dancing and doing martial arts. In the “Superheroes Versus Supervillains” piece, dancers perform these moves to classical music by Tchaikovsky.

“Mixer With a Twist” includes the glow-in-the-dark piece “Solitaire,” where performers use glow sticks and blinking props as they dance in total darkness. And the “Four Little Zombies” and other pieces feature dancers in Halloween costumes.

Nebellen has never before invited its audience to wear costumes, but often asks patrons to join them on stage. “We almost always try to do some sort of audience participation ... just because it ends up being so fun and really hilarious,” Rath says.

“I think it just adds a really human element to the show. People like to see the sort of ‘regular’ people get up there,” she says. “Some of the people that come up on stage just go off . . . they try to do handstands and all kinds of different moves.”


Company director Lisa Starry has always had a secret dream to create a show about vampires.

For a few years, she watched and waited as other local dance companies performed shows similar to her idea. Then she got together with playwright Raymond Shurtz, who created a story line for her one-of-a-kind vampire idea.

The result was “A Vampire Tale,” the story of a naive girl, Abigail, who is drawn into the dark world of vampires. “She is the innocent girl who is depressed, she's lost something huge in her life, and she's just roaming around the streets and runs into a vampire,” Starry says.

The lead male vampire, a role danced by Starry's husband, David, takes the innocent victim into his world. The theater resembles a tomb, or a shadowy cave inhabited by the vampires, also known as the Blood Clan.

As she is drawn in deeper and deeper, Abigail forms a bond with the male vampire that creates jealousy with another female vampire. The story is told in a narrative of recorded text, mixed with contemporary dance and unique sets and costumes. One of the most original pieces is a “fabric dance” in which vampires perform an aerial dance suspended from fabric, and hang in cocoonlike bags, Starry says.

The show's dramatic ending is a scene between the lead male and female vampires in which they decide to kill Abigail. It is performed to a Nine Inch Nails song on piano.

“Because I loved vampire stories so much, I just created my own story of things I liked about vampires, and took away the things I didn't like when I see them in movies and stories,” Starry says.

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