Dancers in harmony telling famous and tempestuous love story on Sheffield stage
The famous relationship between Jane Eyre and her love Mr Rochester is a stormy one, but two dancers telling their story in Sheffield are in perfect harmony.
Hannah Bateman and Joseph Taylor play the troubled couple in Northern Ballet’s adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte novel about an orphan who becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall.
She falls in love with her new master but their relationship is threatened by a secret from his past that threatens to destroy their chance of happiness.
Hannah said that the opening of the show is based on the 2011 film starring Michael Fassbender, where Jane is first seen fleeing the hall, then the action goes into a flashback to the beginning of the story.
She said: “It’s very clever. It means the ballet kicks off with a really strong start, where Jane is running away from Rochester, having just broken up with him.”
Hannah and Joseph have been working hard with the choreographer and her team to create the roles, collaborating to bring their own interpretations to their characters.
Joseph said of Rochester: “He’s a very dark character. It feels easy to feel sorry for him. He’s a guy that can’t avoid his own reality.
“He’s tried to run away from it and find something else, while his actual reality is hidden in the attic. It’s not what he asked for but he’s ended up in a terrible situation.”
Hannah said: “They are both victims of their social standing. That’s what draws them together.
“Jane is in a position where she almost has a bit more freedom to make a choice. Rochester is constrained by society.”
The duo have discovered they have a great chemistry together as dancers. Hannah said: “If you see there is a natural chemistry, it’s undeniable. We have to have a dialogue and steps to inform us how we would behave.
“There’s a lot of luck and trust that you’ll end up on the same level.”
Joseph added that for him that process only begins in rehearsals: “It’s never something that comes in the studio, the stage is always where it goes to that next level.
“There’s a huge difference between the studio and the stage.”
Hannah said: “You’re always told that shouldn’t be the case but it’s like saying everyday life is like Christmas Day. It’s great for a reason.”
Joseph continued; “It could be different every time you dance. You get so many chances to interpret the story, it’s not just a one-take wonder.”
Joseph, who is from Skegness, has been dancing with the company for six years and Surrey-born Hannah for 16. Both enjoy getting the chance to create roles and tell stories with Northern Ballet.
Hannah said: “Jane Eyre feels like it belongs to Northern Ballet because it is a Yorkshire story. We’ve claimed it as our own and it makes sense for us.” Joseph was quick to add: “It doesn’t mean you have to be from Yorkshire to enjoy it!”
For Hannah, the production goes back to the root of the novel and has a “beautiful simplicity” to it.
She’s a big fan of Joseph, saying: “He’s going to be a superstar in two years. He’s brilliant. He’s a really special performer but also a really instinctive partner.
“Some people are really good at it., We’ve not seen somebody like that since Kenny (Tindall) or Toby (Batley). I thought ‘this is going to be lovely’ when we were first rehearsing.”
No pressure then, Joseph!
Northern Ballet's production of Jane Eyre is at Sheffield Lyceum from April 10 to 14.
Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk