Friday, 8 June 2018

Jane Eyre: The Ballet - The Lowry Theatre, Salford.

Northern Ballet returned to The Lowry Theatre following its critically acclaimed season in 2016 and nomination for the South Bank Sky Arts Dance Award in 2017.

Northern Ballet, initially set up in 1969, has grown to become one of the best-loved dance companies in the world, taking inspiration from an eclectic mix of classical dance, theatre, popular culture, literature and opera to develop new and original productions and to create unique interpretations of popular classics. And so this evening with Cathy Marston and her international career of 20 years as choreographer, and music played live by Northern Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Daniel Parkinson we were set for an evening of elegance and drama in their delivery of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 tale of love and rejection.

Bold and confident in their approach Northern Ballet aim to engage, involve and move their audience whilst reaching a diverse range of people through their passionate story-telling, in which they did triumphantly during their magnificent interpretation of Jane Eyre breathing new life into this literary classic.

The staging was subtle but effective with grey painted cloths and screens that represented the bleak moorlands with modernist simplicity. The use of objects such as chairs, tables, saddles and various other items enhanced the talented dancers' interpretation of the classic tale we all know and love so well.

I’ll confess, I’m no Nina Kirsanova and wouldn’t know a pliĆ© from a pirouette if it came and hit me on the nose. But through Cathy Marston’s choreographic brilliance and the breathtaking abilities of all the dancers, Jane Eyre is one show that should not be missed. It is a great skill, and indeed the intent of ballet, if it can effectively portray a story with movement and dance but have no words, and Marston’s ballet is the epitome of how to do just that. Not only is the story easy to follow it is captivatingly elegant and soothing to watch through the two acts as you witness the dancers seamlessly and effortlessly glide across the silent floor with not a footstep to be heard just the enchanting orchestra as they play the musical score compiled for Jane Eyre.

From the lead dancers (Abigail Prudames and Mlindi Kulashe) superb chemistry showing a life of despair, loss and misery, through the mysterious and somewhat exotic Edward Rochester igniting a metaphorical fire to match that set alight by the deranged wife Bertha played perfectly by Hannah Bateman, to the junior members of the company and the ghostlike D-Men, this show is of a highly polished and exemplary standard. The role of Adele played by Antoinette Brooks-Daw brought a youthful vigour and delight to the performance drawing away from the bleakness of the storyline of tragedy and complicated love.

The costumes designed by Patrick Kinmonth are absolutely right in their bleakness, and the one dazzle of beauty is at the ball where there is an array of beautiful period ball gowns - a feast for the eyes before the utility existence returns. The red dress of Rochester’s mad wife, Bertha as she bursts onto the scene is also a shocking but a brilliant addition to the costume design which intensified the drama.

Some heart-warming and moving moments throughout the performance especially the love scenes and final reuniting of the ill-fated couple. As a layperson I am not qualified nor dare comment on the eloquence of the moves and lifts, but all I can state is what I witnessed was exquisite elegance, stylishly polished to absolute unblemished perfection.

This is a must see ballet for all as it is easy to follow and enchanting to watch thanks and credit to the creative team.

Reviewer - Katie Leicester
on - 6/6/18

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