There are no creepy costumes, fog, wild makeup or splatters of fake blood during the rehearsals for the Ballet Quad-Cities’ performance of “Dracula.”

The props and tricks won't come until this weekend's performances. 

But, choreographer Deanna Carter is quick to remind the 15 dancers here to get into the vampire mood.

“You kind of go into this other world of heightened emotion where there are no rules,” Carter said. “And, then sometimes you get hungry and want some blood.”

That’s what you get with “Dracula,” the classic tale of good and evil following Count Dracula’s quest for new victims, romance and more. 

“It’s just scary enough,” she said. “It’s a good kind of creepy.”

Ballet Quad-Cities has counted “Dracula” as a Halloween tradition almost every year since 2007 with Carter, who is now technically retired, leading the choreography. She has recruited Domingo Rubio, a dancer based in Mexico City, to take on the title role each time.

“Domingo… he is Dracula,” Carter said. “It’s really a macho ballet and Domingo captures every bit of that.”

And Rubio says it’s his favorite character to play.

“I know the ballet can be so boring,” Rubio said. “There are people who have never been to the ballet, and they are amazed by ‘Dracula.’”

Carter is tasked with making an overdone story stand out, but she says a cast of new dancers helps fight that. 

“Different people interpret it differently; they bring their own background and body language to it,” she said. “You’re not going to see the same ‘Dracula’ twice ever.”

She also decided to alter where the production starts this time around. 

“You can’t go through the whole book, so you have to pick a point to drop in,” Carter said. “I thought, ‘Why not drop in at the insane asylum?’”

The company offers two performances — at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday — as well as a Friday-night “Dinner with Dracula” event.

That’s to raise money for educational programs, such as DREAMS Achieved through Dance, Dance Me a Story: Exploring Literature through Ballet, and The Ugly Duckling Bully Prevention program.

“People ask for 'Dracula' around here,” Ballet Q-C’s artistic director Courtney Lyon said. "They love it because you can follow the story." 

Plus, this show kicks off the company’s 20th anniversary season, which includes “The Nutcracker,” “Love Stories,” “The Wild, Wild West” and “Ballet Under the Stars.”

As a frequent guest over the last decade, Carter says she’s seen the company grow in number — it now as 12 dancers — and quality.

“I’m shocked by how good they are and how they can stand up to any company in the Midwest,” she said. “It’s this well-kept secret.”

And, this weekend, she looks forward to sharing that secret. 

“This is truly a force of nature,” she said. “Get ready to be surprised." 

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