His name alone brings to mind a crumbling castle in Transylvania-a place where no sensible person treads. This nightmare is the devilish Count Dracula from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Hundreds of films, short stories, comics, and stage adaptations based on Stoker’s work spurred the massive popularity behind the famous Count.
But who bared the first fangs? How was this monster dreamed up originally? The origins of the vampire trace back to the folklore and legends told through ancient cultures, such as the Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Greek, and Roman. It is believed that vampire hysteria was spun from premature burial superstitions and the early ignorance of the body’s decomposition cycle after death. According to these ancient cultures, vampires were unholy creatures that fed off of the life-force of others, most commonly through the drinking of blood. However, term “vampire” was not coined until early 18th century.
Bram Stoker may not have created the original vampires, but his book has changed the way people know such creatures.
Historical inspiration for Stoker’s Count Dracula came from Vlad the Impaler (Prince of Wallachia), who was a notorious, sadistic tyrant who took pleasure in torture and murder. He killed thousands of people in his lifetime, and as his namesake implies, impalement was his preferred method of torture. It is still speculated if he truly drank the blood of his victims.
Published in 1897, “Dracula” is a story of Count Dracula’s move to London from Transylvania. Jonathan Harker, who arrives at Count Dracula’s castle in order to help legally support the transaction of his estate, eventually becomes the Count’s prisoner. Harker recounts the splendors and horrors inside of the castle and eventually faces a bigger threat when Count Dracula later tracks down Harker’s fiancÃ©e Wilhelmina “Mina” Murray.
To this day, the story of Dracula has been handed down and transcended every art form imaginable. Here in San Antonio, the Lila Cockrell Theater (200 East Market Street) will resurrect Bram Stoker’s story in the form of a ballet. From Oct. 26 to Oct. 28, 2012, Ballet San Antonio will showcase custom designed scenery, costumes, talented performers and a musical score from Philip Feeney. Their performance will give the audience the opportunity to decide if Dracula belongs in ballet or should remain between the pages of Gothic horror.