Dancers tell a tale of chills, thrills and forever friendship

More than 93 Vashon Center for Dance students will debut“Dracula Van Helsing: The Beginning.”

More than 93 Vashon Center for Dance students, ages 3 to 18, will take the stage of Kay White Hall to debut “Dracula & Van Helsing: The Beginning,” an original ballet filled with some spooky storytelling, but also fabulous feats of fancy dancing.

The show will be performed at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8, and 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, at Vashon Center for the Arts.

As the title might suggest, the dance program involves a vampire, but at its core, “Dracula & Van Helsing” is also about something Vashon Dance Center students can relate to — an inseparable trio of friends, Vladmina, Abrianna, and Eloise, who grow up together only to have their friendship tested in unexpected ways.

For Vadne White, the director of dance at Vashon Center for the Arts, preparing for the dance concert has been a whirlwind. Fulfilling a wish by members of her Blue Heron Dance Company, she has written and directed the production, as well as overseen all its beautifully moving parts and pieces — including designing its medieval set.

At first, she said, she was reluctant to produce a “dark ballet.”

“Portraying those roles is not easy and we want to make sure our young performers are not scarred by the experience,” she said. “But over the past year, the company has reached the level of technical control and brave artistry required for these kinds of roles.”

However, she said, there remained the challenge of how to include the entire school in a manner that is appropriate for their ages.

“I sat down with my mechanical pencil and notebook and wrote a story about three friends whose lives are forever changed after a traveling fair comes to their town,” she said. “Then, I modified the plot to account for the realities of [our] stage and budget, and eventually had a show specifically for a dance organization like ours: diverse in its ages, levels, and types of training.”

According to White, her inspiration came from classical ballets like “Giselle” and “Swan Lake,” as well as Broadway shows and scenes from contemporary movies and series.

“The challenge was to tell the story with so much artistry that blood and gore are not required, and I think we nailed it,” she said.

White credited all who are working on the production, including its long-time miracle-worker costume designer, Kate Guinee, who has created 196 fabulous costumes. Other key behind-the-scenes players in the production have included Meade Construction, Stephie Halsted and Ryan Ross, and dance company alumni Juliana Wright and Mia Giovanna Kuzma.

But is the show scary? There’s a special performance for anyone who might be worried about that: a sensory- and family-friendly matinee on Saturday, June 8, which will include a meet-and-greet intermission and a dress-up booth.

The matinee, designed for seniors and young children, will feature increased lighting in the seating area and house throughout the performance, lower sound levels, and fewer ticket sales to accommodate more space and movement between patrons. Tablets and other electronic devices can also be used with headphones during the show; fidget toys are welcome; and audience members can also bring in and use special seating devices as needed.

White can’t wait to welcome audiences to the show, and for her dancers to feel themselves fly across the stage.

“I am most eager for our audiences to experience joy, comedy, be a little unnerved, and finally to relate to the characters,” she said. “For the members of the Blue Heron Dance Company and all the students in the school, I want them to see themselves as I see them: as beautiful and capable people who know their worth and have so much to contribute.”

Find out more and purchase tickets to the show at