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He wasn’t the first (the star of James Malcolm Rymer’s penny dreadful Varney the Vampyre preceded him by 50 years), and he’s certainly not the latest (weary of Lestat’s moping, even Anne Rice has moved on, creating a new generation of bloodsuckers), but he remains the yardstick against which all other fangs are measured. “He throws no shadow….He can transform himself to wolf….He comes on moonlight rays as elemental dust,” explains the greatest vampire hunter of them all, Professor Van Helsing, in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel. He, of course, is Dracula, who emerges from the crypt of our collective unconscious with preternatural regularity—popping up in movies, books, comics, plays, and even one hell of a spooky ballet. Premiered in 1997—to celebrate the centennial of Dracula’s publication—the Houston Ballet’s Dracula, conceived by its artistic director, Ben Stevenson, pares down Stoker’s novel mercilessly. Act 1 is a mood piece, a slice of domestic unlife that shows the count chilling in his castle with his vampire brides. Act 2 is a pastorale, introducing the ballet’s young lovers, Svetlana and Frederick, as they cavort in a village square. Act 3 is nothing less than a primal conflict between Good and Evil—re-enacted in Dracula’s bedroom with Svetlana’s immortal soul at stake. There’s no Van Helsing in Stevenson’s ballet (only hardbodies are allowed here), but the novel’s spider-eater, Renfield, is creeping about, and Dracula’s three brides have multiplied to 18. Finally, a vampire who has his priorities in order. At 8 p.m. Friday, March 31, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. $25.50-$62. (202) 467-4600. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)