Seduced by the shadows: a forbidden dance with Dracula, Eve of St. George

March 14, 2024

In the sultry shadows of Toronto’s Great Hall, amidst the whispers of dark secrets and the allure of forbidden desires, I found myself ensnared within the hypnotic embrace of “Eve of St. George”. This transformative retelling of Bram Stoker’s immortal tale of Dracula, birthed from the visionary minds of the Transcen|Dance project, is an intoxicating blend of immersive theatre, voyeuristic intrigue and masquerade decadence. A tantalizing journey awaits those brave enough to step into the dark and seductive world of Count Dracula.

The moment I received the invitation to this evening, I was thrilled with anticipation. I’m not sure if it’s the Scorpio within being wildly attracted to the macabre and all things dark, twisty or Halloween, but I have always been fascinated with the story of Dracula. I was 100% in for the evening ahead.

The allure of Eve of St. George lies not only in its evocative narrative, but also in the tantalizing invitation it extends to its audience. From the moment you enter the Great Hall, every step is a dance between reality and fiction, between the palpable tension of the unknown and the irresistible pull of the tantalizing performers. The Transcen|Dance project taunts us to shed the constraints of traditional theatre and immerse ourselves fully in the story, to become not mere spectators but active participants in the unfolding drama.

The experience begins with the heart-pumping opportunity of the “Behind the Curtain” upgrade — an opportunity to delve deeper into the dark world of Dracula, with a complimentary drink in hand and intimate encounters with key characters. I found myself initially wildly uncomfortable yet equally thrilled, unsure how to navigate the intimate interactions with performers who effortlessly blurred the lines between fiction and reality.

Should I be stoic? Do I interact with them? Do I not? Should I be this nervous? Why am I smiling like such an idiot at a not-at-all happy scenario being circled by three female vampires claiming their master will be happy with my sacrifice to him? How are the performers so seamlessly keeping a straight face, while I’m so uncomfortable I’m about to laugh?

Yet, beneath the discomfort lingered a sense of fascination, a magnetic pull toward the untold stories lurking just beyond the surface – I adamantly told my ego to let go and embrace the experience. It was difficult, but so, so worth it.

As the performance unfolded, I was swept away with seduction and suspense, each moment fraught with the intoxicating allure of the unknown. The Great Hall itself became a labyrinth of secrets and desires, each room pulsating with the eerie whispers of flesh and blood lust. I found myself drawn into the tangled, thrilling, beguiled web of Dracula’s world, where every shadow held the promise of untold ecstasy or unfathomable terror – sometimes, both at once. Performers would whisk you away at any given moment, engaging with the anonymous, masked-voyeurs in the audience: speaking to them, dancing for them and sometimes, with them.

*Note to readers: this event is not for those who have aversions to being touched by strangers, or for those who will not be seen in public without six inch heels. You will get your steps in following your favourite character’s story unfold as they dance through scenes across the 3 stories of The Great Hall – wear comfortable footwear.*

But back to the story…

At times, the experience ventured to the 50 Shades of Grey territory, with its daring exploration of power dynamics and tension. There was a moment when Dracula himself singled a woman out from the crowd, telling her she must do whatever she was told in an alluring role play of dominance and submission. I wasn’t sure whether I was jealous or relieved that it wasn’t me.

Eve of St. George is more than mere theatre — it is an experience, a journey into the heart of darkness that may stir “interesting” feelings from within… For myself, I learned I must embrace discomfort more, or more, lean into it. As we bid farewell to the haunting enthrall of Dracula’s world, I am counting down the days until the next instalment of this mesmerizing evening.

Photography credits: SV Photography & Shic Pic Photography.


Story by Amy Pigeon

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