REVIEW | Jane Eyre | Northern Ballet

Dreda Blow as Jane Eyre and Javier Torres as Edward Rochester in Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre. Photo Emma Kauldhar.jpg

Credit: Emma Kauldhar

Known for their powerful narrative performances, Northern Ballet have produced a gripping and sublimely choreographed production of Jane Eyre.

In commemoration of 200 years since Charlotte Bronte’s birth, Northern Ballet have taken the iconic novel about love, independence and feminism and portrayed this excellently through ballet.

Heightening the potency of the movement is the lighting, designed by Alastair West who beautifully captures each movement through the use of shadows and effects. The lighting creatively creates a larger shadow of Jane during her more sombre moments, so although each movement is small, her shadow provides a larger image that reflects the detail of the movement.

Jane Eyre is a character many struggle to like, she is undeniably plain but her outspoken nature and strong personality support her reputation as a feminist hero in literature, as she breaks the boundaries of gender roles. Hannah Bateman, lead soloist for Northern Ballet performs the role of Jane flawlessly, each movement exudes the fire in her soul, Bateman’s translation of Jane’s fearlessness into ballet movement is exceptional.

Choreographer Cathy Marston’s research into each character is evident as each movement has a motivation and pulsates emotion. Marston has created a ballet that is centered around a woman, the sole focus of the piece is on Jane’s treacherous life and her overall sense of bravery. The prologue is notably intense as Jane is running away, the male dancers symbolise the men in her life that are constantly pushing her down which is projected through fierce movement as they block her ability to move freely. This is a particularly dynamic scene, Marston has choreographed sharp movements from the dancer’s elbows and knees to give the prologue an abstract edge, creating an absorbing opening.

Antoinette Brooks-Daw opens the first act as young Jane, which is where we first witness Jane’s pain and anguish after her parents have died and she is left orphaned. Forced to move in with her cruel aunt who treats Jane awfully, Jane misbehaves and is sent away to school.

The scenes at school are impressively choreographed with a contemporary edge, as the young female dancers move tightly yet with force, slamming their desks in a military style, it projects the uniformity of the school. Young Jane’s movement is jagged and performed vigorously to convey her feeling of being trapped.

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There is a captivating moment in the show where young Jane transitions into older Jane, as both Jane’s dance together, mirroring each other’s movement,the choreography is delicate and symbolic and their connection to one another is breath-taking.

Highlighting the romance of the piece, Mr Rochester played by Javier Torres provides a formidably masculine performance as he falls in love with Jane. Rochester and Jane’s pas de deux that end both the first and second act are truly remarkable. Their intimacy is raw and oozes infatuation, each moment Torres lifts Bateman into the air – it is visually astounding.

Northern Ballet’s production of Jane Eyre maintains the essence of the period and passion of the story with a modern twist and prodigious choreography that is performed exquisitely.

Jane Eyre is on at the Wolverhampton Grand until the 11th of June and tickets can be found here.

Check out Northern Ballet’s website for more details on their Jane Eyre tour.

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