Northern Ballet: Jane Eyre Review

Too often we get stuck in a rut in thinking we know what we like. We might stick to reading a certain author, caught in a genre rut at the cinema or only seeing a particular kind of play. So every now and then it’s good for the soul to shake things up.

My friend got me tickets for the ballet for my birthday. I’ve never been to see a professional ballet before and was completely blown away. The story was Bronte classic, Jane Eyre. I will say now that I was glad I knew the story as I may have struggled to follow the narrative otherwise. Luckily I know Jane Eyre inside out so I could sit back and take in the Northern Ballet’s interpretation on orphan girl done good.

I was entranced from the minute the curtain went up. Dreda Blow as Jane was so graceful, commanding the stage from the outset as she does battle with male dancers before the story proper starts. I will admit to being a little lost at this point but as this was my first ballet experience I think I can have a free pass. I soon got into it when Young Jane (the fantastic Antoinette Brooks-Daw) worked her way through the bleak childhood of Eyre. I was astounded at how tight the choreography was and the beautiful shapes the dancers made as they expressed the anguish of a lost child trying to find her place in a very harsh world.

Jane soon finds herself at Thornfield and enter the dashing Mr Rochester, played by Javier Torres who is everything you want in a handsome dandy. Sat in his chair, he soon exerts his control over Jane with the mere flick of his ankle. The passion is immediate between the two but as Jane is exploring the new home for which she is Governess, the mad woman in the attic appears. We were lucky enough to witness Northern Ballet legend, Victoria Sibson’s last performance ever as she wrought chaos and fury onto the stage as Bertha Mason, the real Mrs Rochester.

The story then takes us through the love affair as Jane not only does battle with the crazy wife but also a socially superior rival in the flighty Blanche Ingram.

The couple are tormented at every turn. The wedding scene is jaw dropping as Sibson plays the worst wedding crasher ever, leaving Jane out in the cold and Rochester in a world of frustration and pain.

The ending is tender and a standing ovation was the least the crowd could do.

A special mention has to go to Rachael Gillespie who played Rochester’s ward, Adele, with absolute perfection.

There you have it. I can’t review this from a technical perspective as I am absolutely not qualified but as a beginner to ballet, I couldn’t take my eyes from the performance. The power of the emotions is tenfold when it’s just expressed through graceful dance and not reliant on vocabulary. I honestly can’t wait to experience my next ballet so stay tuned for more.

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