Ballet Quad Cities supplied a delicious, delightful Halloween treat last year as they performed a “Dracula Unleashed” at Moline’s new Bartlett Performing Arts Center.

Given the craziness of Covid, the trick in this year’s holiday special promises to be literally more delectable, as the professional dance

Ballet Quad Cities performing “Dracula Unleashed!” in October 2019 at Bartlett Performing Arts Center, Moline High School.

company offers a three-course, sit-down dinner and a lively, playful Halloween performance in the beautiful ballroom at The Outing Club on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31.

All proceeds will go directly to Ballet Quad Cities, to keep the organization a viable part of the community until it can return to performing in area theaters. BQC has found a lovely new home at the private Outing Club, 2109 Brady St., Davenport – with its first productions post-shutdown out on the lawn in August and September.

“The atmosphere in the ballroom at The Outing Club is a wonderful setting for our first indoor performance,” BQC executive director Joedy Cook said recently. Tables will be spaced generously apart, with a maximum audience capacity of 100, in a ballroom that can seat 500.

“The way they clean and sanitize, it’s great,” she said Saturday. “It’s not a theater setting, it’s a private club. It just doesn’t have a lot of activity. It’s a really safe place. It’s just a great venue – very clean and well-maintained.”

Domingo Rubio, the company’s longtime Dracula, is in Mexico and so will not be part of “Dancing for Dracula and You” — a fun, varied medley of Halloween dances, incorporating a number of styles with a bevy of creepy Halloween props and decorations.

The interior of the Outing Club in Davenport.

“It’s not our usual Dracula; it’s going to be just fine without him,” Cook said. “We’re going to make the best of it.”

For the two nights, dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., with the one-hour ballet performance at 7:30 p.m.

Tables (for $75 per person) will be available for 2, 4, 6 or 8 guests, and everyone in your party must buy tickets together, by Tuesday noon, Oct. 27.

The spooktackular menu choices are:

  • Dracula’s Pretzel Encrusted Chicken Breast, Boetje’s Mustard Cream, seasonal vegetables, and Boursin Mashed Potatoes.
  • Frankenstein’s Black Pepper Roast Pork Loin with Champagne-Apricot Compote, seasonal Vegetables, and Boursin Mashed Potatoes.
  • The Mummy’s Roasted Pepper Parmesan Risotto, Mixed Mushroom Sauté, Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Baby Carrots.
  • The Skeleton’s Children’s Menu: Macaroni & Cheese with fresh fruit.

All dinner choices include House Salad, Dinner Rolls, and Halloween Graveyard Mousse. A cash bar will be available; no credit cards accepted.

In rehearsals for “Dracula Unleashed!”

“It’s in the ballroom, which is this beautiful space, it’s gorgeous,” said dancer Claire Cordano. “The stage is a little smaller, but we can still do all of the things we had done before. This year’s show has a lot more variety in it — tap and some fun jazz, disco type pieces. It’s a lot more upbeat and entertaining as everyone’s eating their dinner.”

“Honestly, one of the positives to dancing in the ballroom, we don’t have the lights and stage farther away from the audience, so we get to see everybody’s faces,” she said Saturday. “We get to feed off that. That’s what I loved about the outdoor performances at Outing Club. You can look at the audience, you’re able to really enjoy what they’re doing.”

Even though the company did three performances outside on a Sunday last month, it was not draining, Cordano said.

“Dracula Unleashed!”

“It was really exciting; you run on pure adrenaline,” she said. “We’re fully aware of how lucky we are to be performing, and in person. We’re really fortunate.”

“It’s such a fabulous opportunity, it’s so unusual in a positive way, that we get to see the audience too,” dancer Rachel Martens said of next

Ballet dancers Meghan Phillips, left, Claire Cordano and Rachel Martens in October 2019.

weekend. “Being in a theater, you can’t see the audience. Performing outside is amazing; I love being able to see the audience. This performance is going to be significantly entertaining.”

Compared to last fall’s fully-realized production, including Rubio as the suave, sinister vampire, this will be “a different beast, just another opportunity for us to bring those elements to life,” Martens said. “All these pieces are going to be so highly entertaining,” the audience won’t notice not having a Dracula, she said, noting they appreciate being more connected with patrons.

“I think we all fell madly in love with Domingo — I feel like we learned so much from him,” she added. “I just think this is another opportunity to do something different this year. This company is also so versatile. Claire, Meghan and I were trained in very traditional modern, and Nick and Sage have tap experience. We have all training in different styles.”

A New York Purchase worth making in the Q-C

Cordano and Martens — exhilarating, passionate members of the company, both in their second season – are close friends and came here from the same school as a third dancer, just a year older.

Cordano, a Connecticut native who turns 24 Wednesday, graduated in 2019 from State University of New York in Purchase (27 miles north of Manhattan) with Martens, a 24-year-old native of West Chicago, two and a half hours from BQC’s Rock Island studio. Company member Meghan Phillips graduated from Purchase in 2018, and recommended the Q-C to the women.

“She graduated the year before; she loved it here and spoke so highly of it,” Cordano said of Phillips recommending BQC. “Absolutely, it

Ballet Quad Cities performing “Dracula Unleashed!” in October 2019 at Bartlett Performing Arts Center, Moline High School.

exceeded my expectations by a lot. It’s totally become a second home for me.”

She and Martens are best friends, and both earned a bachelor of fine arts in dance performance from SUNY. Cordano also loved the opportunity to go abroad during her junior year. She and Phillips each spent a semester in Perth, Australia, studying at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Upon returning, Cordano danced with the Connecticut Ballet in their 2018 production of “Petrushka” as well as their “Nutcracker.”

Martens began her ballet training at age 2, at the Faubourg School of Ballet. After Faubourg, she performed with the Visceral Studio Company in Chicago. At Purchase College, Rachel performed works by George Balanchine, Norbert De La Cruz III, Hannah Garner, Rena Butler and Jenelle Figgins. During her junior year, she studied for a semester at Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts.

“It was absolutely fantastic, I loved the program there,” Martens said Saturday. “It was very challenging, was very heavy on ballet but I also had the opportunity to do a lot of contemporary. It was also fantastic to be immersed in a completely different culture. I’m from a small suburb of Chicago.”

She’s also done summer intensives at Colorado Ballet, Alonzo King Lines, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, B12 in Berlin, Germany and Hubbard Street Dance.

A scene from “Dracula Unleashed!”

She said it’s very common for female dancers to start so young, but not necessarily to stick with during the tough training and competition, to make it a career.

“There are a lot of challenging aspects to it, but it also taught me great life skills – like time management, to work hard, determination, teamwork, being in a company,” Martens said. “To work with all these wonderful people, to have it translated to my life, I’m so thankful. It’s very challenging, but it gives you so many wonderful things.”

Ballet is not just a grueling athletic job, it’s also a fierce intellectual pursuit too, she said. “We have to learn so much choreography and come up with new choreography at the same time,” Martens said. “People don’t realize that. It was also important to get a college degree in that.”

At Purchase, she and Cordano danced together often, and Phillips did a lot of choreography there, which made their transition to the Q-C company more seamless.

The exterior of the Outing Club, 2109 Brady St., Davenport.

“We were very close, so it was so wonderful to have that home base in a new city,” Martens said. “I think just moving to a new city is so difficult, knowing that Meghan was there to support us in the first transition, we were also so lucky. Our company members are so wonderful, we got really close right away.

“We got so lucky with this group of dancers, and knowing Meghan was there was so helpful,” she said, noting it’s also invaluable to have her family close in Chicago. “I’m so close to my family, being able to come home, they’re so insanely supportive.” Martens’ parents will attend next weekend, she said.

They’re rehearsing for this one just one week, compared to six weeks rehearsing for last year’s production, Cordano said.

“It’s actually been working really great,” she said. “All of the dancers are returning company members. We’re all one giant family. We were able to get a lot of the choreography we’d done in the past, some new choreography and some from a couple years ago.”

Cordano and Martens also have been a cute, perky presence on Ballet Quad Cities’ social media, making many video appearances to plug

Claire Cordano, Madeleine Rhode, and Rachel Martens perform at The Outing Club on Aug. 30.

upcoming shows. (See Claire’s latest HERE.)

“I love it; it’s a great opportunity for Ballet Quad Cities to be part of social media,” Cordano said. “It’s fun — me and Rachel are best friends, and here, we do everything together.”

BQC encourages Outing Club patrons to come in a costume, finery or at least a mask. Tickets must be ordered by noon Tuesday, available at Eventbrite.com.

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Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.