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A Count lurking, an artist working

Tutus and tights make some people think ballet is precious. How about a ballet starring Dracula, then? You can't get more red-blooded than that.

The abstractness of a lot of modern dance is also a potential stumbling block. If a show doesn't tell a story, but conjures up the wonders of nature, does that sound more approachable?

Maybe even that seems remote to some. When dancers step into the world of an artist who depicted Mecklenburg County on canvas, would that feel closer to home?

All that's in store in the coming season.

The legendary vampire will stalk the Knight Theater courtesy of N.C. Dance Theatre and choreographer Mark Godden. Godden is at home with the darker side of love and desire: His "Constructing Juliet" last season gave an offbeat but compelling form to the world's favorite love story.

After NCDT returns from Transylvania, resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden will create a new work paying homage to Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden. NCDT will be just one of the cultural groups honoring Bearden's centennial.

The natural world will invade Knight Theater in Momix's "Botanica" (details, page 3). If you aren't familiar with Momix, which last came to the Charlotte area a decade ago, this may help: Its founder and director, Moses Pendleton, first made his mark on the dance world as a co-founder of the more familiar Pilobolus. The two groups are similar in using gravity-defying choreography, evocative music and - especially in "Botanica" - imaginative costumes to fire viewers' imagination.

If you're interested in more mainline fare, NCDT will put its dancers through their paces with "The Golden Section," a choreographic fireball by Twyla Tharp. The company will remember former director Salvatore Aiello by performing his sensual "Satto."

If it's classical ballet you want, NCDT will offer one of George Balanchine's salutes to his Russian forebears, "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux."

The Charlotte Youth Ballet - which uses students as its corps, but hires pros as principals - will perform "Coppelia." They're working to get the next generation on the tutu wavelength.

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