Alisha Weir's Toughest Stunt For Abigail Was A Pro Ballet Move

"Abigail" star Alisha Weir was keen to perform as many of her own stunts as possible for the movie, in which she plays the titular ballerina vampire who is kidnapped by an ill-fated crew of criminals. Though stunt double Rachelle Beinart took over for the most dangerous and complex sequences, Weir's dance training made her a natural fit for learning combat choreography and flying through the air on wires. But one type of dance that she hadn't specifically trained in before was ballet — which created a challenge, since "ballerina vampire" is the movie's hook, and the script opens with Abigail dancing to "Swan Lake." 

Not just any dancing: Abigail is en pointe, an advanced ballet technique that requires the dancer to point their feet straight down and dance on their toes. Though some people are able to stand en pointe with bare feet for a few seconds (a party trick that Rose shows off in "Titanic"), dancing is made possible by special pointe shoes that provide some cushioning and distribute the dancer's weight across a slightly larger surface area. The delicate elegance of en pointe ballet looks stunning, but it can also be dangerous, with common injuries including twisted ankles and broken toes. Ballet dancers need to wait until at least the age of 11 before they begin pointe work, which can cause permanent damage to immature foot bones, and most students wait until they're 12 or 13. 

Despite the risks, Weir (who was 13 at the time of filming) was very keen. "They told me about the opening scene and that she was en pointe and [asked], 'Would you like to try it?'" she remembers. "I was straight in." 

Delicate and deadly

Immortality is pretty cool, but surely the greatest benefit of being a vampire is being able to pull off really impressive ballet moves. Weir didn't have the benefit of vampire strength or the years of ballet training usually required to dance en pointe, but she did have a whole lot of determination. Choreographer and movement coach Belinda Murphy began training her to go en pointe eight weeks before filming began, with a focus on strengthening her feet, ankles, and core. Weir learned the routine off pointe first, then moved up onto her toes. You can see a glimpse of the final dance in the trailer for "Abigail."

That wasn't the only fun stunt that Weir got to do herself. Her co-star, Melissa Barrera, estimates that Alisha did around 95% of the stunts herself, including the scene glimpsed in the trailer where she runs along the stair banister. A harness and wires helped her to move with vampire-like lightness and grace (and also protected her from any falls — don't try this stuff at home, kids).

That was another first for Weir. "I had done acro [a dance style that incorporates precision acrobatics], so I knew how to do flips and things like that, but I'd never done wire work before, I had never flown" she says. "I'd go home and say to my dad, 'I was on wires and I was flying!' and he was like, 'No, you weren't, Alisha.'" She laughs. "When they asked me, 'Are you up for it?', I was 100%. It's not every day you get asked, 'Do you want to be on banisters and walking around on wires and flying."

"Abigail" arrives in theaters on April 19, 2024. Tickers are on sale now.