Dance: Northern Ballet Theatre perform Dracula at the Theatre Royal, Norwich

Northern Ballet Theatre perform Dracula at the Theatre Royal, Norwich (01608 630000) 27-31 May and then tour to Canterbury, Leeds, Bath and Newcastle
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The Independent Culture
Northern Ballet Theatre takes the "theatre" in its name very seriously. Its artistic director Christopher Gable is keen to remind us that his CV contains more theatre than ballet, and his company's output reflects that background. Gable's aim is to bring new audiences to see a genre that is no longer catered for elsewhere: ``I'm almost the only person who seems to be interested in how we can develop dance drama. When I became the director of the company I saw an interesting role for me: to combine the different strands of my own experience. I have worked with some of the best actors, directors and choreographers, but I have also done a lot of musicals. There is something exciting about the attack and the edge of the commercial theatre''.

The resulting mix has proved popular with audiences: ``The average audience is afraid that if they go to a ballet they won't understand what is going on. What has made for NBT's success is the clarity of the narrative line. If people are exposed to too much pure dance they can get lost.

``Dracula is bringing in a huge number of first-timers and an unusually high percentage of men, which is widening the dance audience considerably. It works for adults because this concept of something that comes in the night and sucks the living essence out of you has an astonishing power. It works for youngsters as a thundering good adventure tale: children won't accept bullshit.''

Like all artistic directors, Gable is under heavy pressure to make money. Artistic success would be too high a price to pay for commercial failure and ambitious, more inaccessible projects - such as a life of Nijinsky - will have to remain on the back burner for the time being. This autumn the company will stage a new version of the ever-popular Giselle. And forthcoming attractions for next year? Yes, it's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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