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Northern Ballet - Jane Eyre - Spring Tour 2018


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You beat me to it , Janet!

It is well worth watching, Abigail Prudames and Mlindi Kulashe dance  Cathy Marston's interesting choreography beautifully. The colour-blind casting of Mlindi is ironic given Mr Rochester's family wealth stems from slavery.

The excerpt should encourage ballet goers to see Northern Ballet's Jane Eyre at Leeds, Sadler's Wells (May) and many other venues.

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6 minutes ago, SheilaC said:

The colour-blind casting of Mlindi is ironic given Mr Rochester's family wealth stems from slavery.

 

I haven't read the book for a few years, but isn't that a supposition, or maybe an extrapolation made by Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea?

 

Happy to be corrected if wrong.

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34 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I haven't read the book for a few years, but isn't that a supposition, or maybe an extrapolation made by Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea?

 

Happy to be corrected if wrong.

 

I would agree that you are correct in your supposition relating to slavery in Bronte's Jane Eyre but it is definitely written about in Wide Sargasso Sea where both families had been involved in the slave trade.  The opening of the Wide Sargasso Sea take place after the abolition of the slave trade and Bronte wrote Jane Eyre some years after that and although didn't write directly about the socio-political agendas of the day the language of slavery is used in the novel.  However you need to take into account that critics have said that in the past that authors would often shy away from the shameful truths of the British history whereas at the time that Jean Rhys was writing things had moved on.

Edited by Newdancermum
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7 minutes ago, Newdancermum said:

 

I would agree that you are correct in your supposition relating to slavery in Bronte's Jane Eyre but it is definitely written about in Wide Sargasso Sea where both families had been involved in the slave trade.  The opening of the Wide Sargasso Sea take place after the abolition of the slave trade and Bronte wrote Jane Eyre some years after that and although didn't write directly about the socio-political agendas of the day the language of slavery is used in the novel.  However you need to take into account that critics have said that in the past that authors would often shy away from the shameful truths of the British history whereas at the time that Jean Rhys was writing things had moved on.

 

I don't think we can hold Charlotte Brontë to Jean Rhys's embellishments!

 

Of course there's a fair chance that Brontë had in mind some involvement in slavery, but I wouldn't present it as fact.

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27 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

I don't think we can hold Charlotte Brontë to Jean Rhys's embellishments!

 

Exactly - although Jean Rhys cleverly intertwines her novel's plot with that of Jane Eyre there are some discrepancies between the narratives.

 

All this said, looking forward to another NB production - loved Mermaid!

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  • 1 month later...

I saw 3 performances of Jane Eyre over the weekend in Leeds, having seen and loved the premiere on the midscale tour nearly 2 years ago.

 

Cathy Marston had previously made A Tale of Two Cities for Northern Ballet some years ago (only performed at the West Yorkshire Playhouse) and I remember thinking then that she had a great ability to sketch a character in with just a few movements.  She displays that skill to great effect in Jane Eyre.  The action is condensed into 2 acts and (including the interval) it lasts just over 2 hours.  Although, for coherence, some elements of the book are not used (eg Jane's extended absence from Thornfield looking after her sick aunt) the essence of the story is there.

 

The score is composed and compiled by Philip Feeney (who has composed some very memorable scores for NB over the years) using work by Fanny Mendelssohn and others.  I enjoyed the score and found it really fits the period and action but my friend didn't like it at all.

 

The ballet starts with a prologue of Jane running away from her wedding when she realises that Rochester is already married.  Cathy Marston uses the device of dancers impeding her to show the elements of the moor and the bad weather that Jane faces before Rivers finds her in a state of collapse and takes her to his home.  This prologue then leads into Jane gradually telling her story.  The D-men (as they are termed on the cast sheet) who appear in the prologue also become other male characters in the book eg dinner guests at the dinner party.  It proves to be an excellent device to make the cast seem larger than the 19 dancers used in the piece.  Jane Eyre has not been expanded since its midscale debut.

 

The set is very simple but very effective.  It consists of a backcloth and side panels decorated with an abstract pattern in colours that reflect the moorland.  Moods are maintained by very clever lighting.  There is a platform at the back of the stage that is used for the Rivers household to sit and here Jane's story and for the dinner party at Thornfield.  The main piece of the set is an amazing chair that Rochester sits on along with a burnt-out version of it.

 

We see the cemetery and young Jane being taken to her Aunt's house.  Her cousins mistreat her and she reacts.  I must say that Rachael Gillespie was brilliant as young Jane on Friday night - so alone and timid but you can see her determination and strength of character form as she can no longer take her cousin's taunting.  The steely character comes through as she befriends Helen Burns in the orphanage.  After Helen's death the passing of time is shown by young Jane being replaced by adult Jane and there being more joy brought into the orphanage.

 

Jane moves to Thornfield and meets Mrs Fairfax and Adele before Rochester eventually returns from his travels.  There is a wonderful scene between him and Jane where he shows he is the master.  He sits on the chair and as Jane goes to walk past he extends his foot to stop her.  This simple movement tells a 1000 words and this device is used several times by Rochester and eventually by Jane as their relationship equalises.  Mrs Fairfax is portrayed as a rather fussy character with quite staccato movements.

 

We see Jane rescuing Rochester from the burning room and her burgeoning attraction to him.

 

Act 2 starts with the dinner party where Rochester is flirting with Blanche with Jane and Adele looking on from the sidelines.  In one cast Miki Akuta is a total delight as the flirtatious Blanche.  After the dinner party (as interrupted by Grace Poole) Rochester convinces Jane that it is her that he loves and she accepts his proposal. 

 

Bertha Mason disrupts the wedding and Jane runs off, ultimately being saved and taken home by Rivers.  Jane rejects his proposal and starts on her return to Thornfield.  We see Bertha setting fire to Thornfield (an amazingly powerful portrayal by, in 3 different casts, Vicky Sibson, Mariana Rodrigues and Hannah Bateman) and Rochester trying to save her.

 

Of course Jane returns to find the burned out house with a broken, blind Rochester and there is a most moving duet where she convinces him that her love is strong.  Cue huge lump in throat.

 

We saw all three casts over the weekend.  All three Janes and two of the Rochesters were seen on tour in 2016 and there is one new Rochester.  On Friday night we saw Hannah Bateman with Joseph Taylor as (the new) Rochester.  Saturday afternoon saw Abigail Prudames with Mlindi Kulashe and Saturday evening was danced by Dreda Blow and Javier Torres.  Javier Torres created the role of Rochester 2 years ago and, IMHO, was born to dance the role which he totally inhabits.  All 3 casts are terrific and I really could not recommend any one over the others.  What I can say is that this ballet is one that should not be missed and I hope everyone who sees it enjoys it as much as I do!

 

 

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Whetted my appetite even more Janet! 

Will be seeing this on May 19th .....the matinee.

In fact two Northerns within two weeks ......as seeing them in Leicester on 5th May ( eve) in Little Mermaid....this one as part of a friends 70th birthday celebrations. I'm pleased on two accounts as it will be the first ballet she's been to for about 40 years and she hasn't been to one of her "local"  theatres The Curve for about ten years either!! 

The last time I actually went to the theatre with her was also in Leicester... to the Phoenix in our first year of teaching (when I was in Liverpool) so circa 1970/71!! Though of course have met up many times since then!! 

Actually this friend is a great Bronte fan so would perobably love Jane Eyre !!

 

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Saw it last night and am still processing it - I mean to write more later, but I want for now to say that for possibly personal reasons it was about as profound an experience as I've ever had watching dance, and that anyone who's considering seeing it on tour should definitely go.

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6 hours ago, LinMM said:

Actually this friend is a great Bronte fan so would perobably love Jane Eyre !!

 

She should certainly see it - it's revealed more to me about the book than any of my re-readings of what is my favourite novel has. That's the magic of dance, I guess!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Talk on the Manon thread has reminded me that I never got round to expanding my thoughts on this, so here goes!

 

Jane Eyre is probably my favourite work of any art; it was also my late mother's: one of my earlier definite memories is watching the early 80s BBC adaptation with her, and I remember her telling me that every time she read it she found something new in it - and so do I.

 

The most I was hoping for from the ballet was something which captured the essence of the novel and its heroine. That would have more than justified the 10 hour round trip to Leeds. What I didn't expect was for it also to provide me with two major revelations about the novel. I daresay some might think I should have picked both of them up long ago, but maybe it was a case of not seeing the wood for the trees!

 

The first is the importance of female companionship to Jane: time and again she finds succour from other women, expressed through pas de deux and pas de trois throughout the ballet, from Helen at Lowood, to Adele and Mrs Fairfax at Thornfield to the Rivers sisters. It is other women who Jane draws strength from when she most needs it, and this strength which puts her on the correct footing to form an attachment and later a marriage to Rochester.

 

Secondly, I learnt that the balance of power in Jane's relationship with Mr Rochester always rests with Jane. Even when he is her employer and she has very little materially, she merely has to make to leave the room and he is defeated; repeatedly he has to resort to pulling rank to keep her in his presence (this is beautifully sketched out by the way, sprawled in his armchair, Rochester bars her exit with an extended leg and draws her back). Later, dancing with Blanche Ingram, Rochester cranes his neck to see what effect it is having on Jane; again, Rochester craves her attention. (That Cathy Marston manages all this without diminishing the character or appeal of Rochester is almost the most impressive thing about it. Fear not: he remains in this reading one of the great prototype romantic heroes.)

 

So, please go: we don't see enough female choreographers in this country and this production has very clearly illustrated why we need more of them. There may be some male choreographers out there who could have unlocked Jane Eyre's character and story so brilliantly, but I can't think of one.

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From the rehearsal film I am really excited to see this ballet. There are some really interesting moves and lifts, very original from this first glance. I am also hoping to see her choreography for the San Francisco Ballet next month. I really hope Kevin O'Hare invites Cathy Marston to create something for the Royal she is a very talented and original - & her work suites a classical company - choreographer.

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7 hours ago, alison said:

She has, of course, previously created work on the RB (a number of times - and on ENB, for that matter), but not recently.

Yes exactly, it was several years ago, but it would be really great to have her create something new, (classically based narrative?) working with all the talented young dancers. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

How on earth did I only just spot this was coming to Cardiff? Have booked for the matinee tomorrow. :D Been a long time since I've seen Northern Ballet, can't wait! Dreda Blow/Javier Torres/Antoinette Brooks-Daw cast should be fab...

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Yesterday's matinee of Jane Eyre in Cardiff, led by Dreda Blow and Javier Torres, was outstanding.  Some weeks into the Spring tour, the dancers have deepened their characterisations and the whole performance was scintillating.  Antoinette Brooks-Daw was brilliant as young Jane, so sad at the funeral and with her cousins but you could see how she steeled herself to deal with their nasty malicious behaviour. 

 

Her duet with Kiara Flavin as Helen Burns was really touching.  I think the interaction between Young Jane and Helen is a really good example of how gifted Cathy Marston is at fleshing out characters with really just a few steps and motions.  The short section of the ballet is crucial in setting the scene for the rest of the tale.  Just after this, the transition to Adult Jane as teacher at the orphanage is skilfully handled.

 

Rachael Gillespie was just sublime as Adele, Rochester's ward.  She has such a delicate touch and comes over really well as the excitable young girl.

 

What can I say about Javier Torres other than that he IS Rochester - dark, brooding, arrogant and gradually falling in love with Jane after their unpromising first meeting.  The duet after she has saved him from the fire in Act 1 is a masterpiece of 2 people attracted to each other but not really understanding how to say so.

 

And so to Act 2, opening with the dinner party with Blanche and other guests.  Jane is so anxious, nervous and jealous!  Dreda Blow is one of those glorious actor-dancers that David Nixon seems to intuitively find.  She inhabits the role of Jane.

 

Victoria Sibson was incredibly dramatic as Bertha - she commands the stage and the denouement at the wedding (some characters are missed out - eg Bertha's brother - for coherence) was startling and disturbing.  

 

As Jane departs and is found destitute and near death by Rivers her story gradually unfolds for them.  Although she could have a good life as the missionary's wife she senses something is wrong and returns to find Rochester blind and desperate after trying to save Bertha from the fire.  The fire scene itself is very dramatic.

 

Yesterday afternoon the final duet between Dreda and Javier was intensely moving and my friend and I were in floods by the end.  It really had been a special performance from all the cast.

 

It was good meeting up with BristolBillyBob in the interval too!

 

 

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As with every company, all 3 Janes and all 3 Rochesters bring something different to the role.  I agree with Lizbie's assessment of Joe Taylor.  He and Hannah had the most amazing chemistry on stage.  Mlindi Kulashe is another fantastic actor and he brought out Rochester's angst wonderfully well.  Abigail Prudames was brilliant as Jane too - I think creating the role of the Mermaid had helped deepen her characterisation of Jane even more than the first run.

 

If ever there we needed proof of why we need to go over and over again the evidence is in these three casts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No sign of any casting on the website for the Sadler's Wells season starting tomorrow, as far as I can see?  I'm getting the feeling I might want to see this more than once, and would like to see an alternative cast. 

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