Joffrey Ballet Presents JANE EYRE Review – Ballet Storytelling Nonpareil

The flawless Joffrey Ballet dancers bring the inspired choreography by Cathy Marston to life to tell the story of JANE EYRE through ballet

Joffrey Ballet Jane Eyre

He sits on the sole prop on stage--a tall-backed armchair that signifies the imagined mansion it is within. Then, this tall and lanky Dylan Gutierrez as Rochester, the master of Thornfield, points with a superstraight leg extension. He is showing himself to be the overpowering towering force in Thornfield, even when seated.

Multiply that type of gesture that is able to condense entire chapters of Charlotte Brontë’s mid-nineteenth century classic novel into a compact few hours’ telling through ballet. That will begin to give you a picture of Choreographer Cathy Marston’s magic.

Marston’s choreography, first and foremost, makes the inner life of Jane Eyre (Anais Bueno) real. We first see internal turmoil in the moves of the D-Men— D meaning death or demons-- whose angled legs fly to give the furies corporal form in a vortex on the stage. Jane is also seeing her nightmares, from a backstage perch. She watches visions of her younger self (Yumi Kanazawa) being orphaned, abused, and abandoned.

Joffrey Ballet Jane Eyre

How could it be that we never before realized the ability of a dancer striding large on point to telegraph a threat? (This is a highlight of Marston’s choreographed moves for Jane’s Aunt, danced by April Daly).

We then see Jane’s fellow orphans do quirky ensemble moves. Their arms move in tight patterns of folding and unfolding. It’s a vision of the school’s strict regimentation. We feel how unnatural this school is for the young girls in its hold.

How amazing to watch lithe and graceful Lucia Connolly capture the essence of old age setting into the hobbling body of Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield’s housekeeper! Age-compromised Mrs. Fairfax is ever contrasting to the high-octane energy of Rochester’s ward Adele (Cara Marie Gary).

Then, we feel the menace, much as Jane does, of mad Bertha (Nicole Ciapponi) erupting from the attic. She is crouched. Then she slithers. Then she leaps into a pounce.

And of course, there are the many pas de deux scenes between Jane and Rochester. We see their roiling passions. We see their souls bind together.

We also see Jane’s jealousy and feelings of rejection in the gesture of hand by head being unable to stop fluttering. She is watching wealthy socialite Blanche Ingram (Jeraldine Mendoza) flirting with Rochester.

These type gestures are the storytelling brilliance of Marston’s choreography . You too will likely find it simply breathtaking.

Add to that-- at every turn, leap, crouch, point, and move- a score by Marston’s collaborator Philip Feeney that punctuates the affect of every scene. The cello emerges to give voice to longing. A clarinet wails pain. The piano paints a landscape and more.

The music, story and choreography are so perfectly sewn together, in this writer’s view, that we almost lose sight of the flawless Joffrey dancing skills that bring it all to life. In a word—superb.

Joffrey Ballet Uses the Entire Space of Auditorium Theatre’s Large Stage

There is not an aspect of stagecraft that seems less than brilliant. A large curtain with crisscrossing lines greets as you walk in. It later becomes the Thornfield countryside that Rochester traverses to make his galloping entrance. And, as the story unfolds, this curtain’s pattern also becomes a muted echo of the dancers’ poses. The changing lighting accentuates all these effects(Lighting Design: Brad Fields).

In this writer’s view, storytelling through dance doesn’t get better than this.



Editor's Note: The performance reviewed here was on October 24, featuring dancers other than the ones pictured here.


Through October 27, 2019
Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 pm
Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, Oct. 19 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 pm
Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:30 pm
Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
and Sunday, October 27 at 2 pm.


Auditorium Theatre
50 East Ida B. Wells Drive



Check for Half-Price Deals from Hot Tix:

For full-priced tickets and ticket availability visit Joffrey Ballet website or call 312.386.8900

Photos: Cheryl Mann

Note: Joffrey Ballet reviews are also excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

Amy Munice

About the Author: Amy Munice

Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.

Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.


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