Shanghai Ballet Makes UK Debut with JANE EYRE, Now thru Aug 18
Shanghai Ballet Company is to make its highly anticipated UK debut in August at the London Coliseum with performances of JANE EYRE, an original, innovative ballet production based on Charlotte Brontë's famous novel. Performances will run today, August 14th-18th, choreographed by Patrick de Bana.
In a bold re-interpretation, choreographer Patrick de Bana's production puts the character of Bertha Mason, Edward Rochester's 'mad' wife, famously locked up in the attic for most of the novel, firmly centre stage along with her two-timing husband and the novel's heroine, Jane Eyre.
With strong performances from the three lead characters - Ji Pingping (Jane), Fan Xiaofeng (Bertha), Wu Husheng (Rochester), gigantic, atmospheric sets and lighting, dramatic choreography and an eye-catching costume design that cleverly melds Victorian costume with the 21st century, JANE EYRE is a true break from tradition and sets Shanghai Ballet Company on a bold trajectory towards their London debut.
'Jane Eyre' is a co-production between Shanghai Ballet Company and Shanghai Grand Theatre
The London Coliseum is located at St Martin's Lane, London WC2N 4ES. Performances will run today, August 14th - 18th, 2013. Tickets: on sale at 020 7836 0111 or www.eno.org; £15-£65. Performance times: 7.30pm; matinee 2.30pm Saturday August 17th.
A classic piece of Victorian fiction, JANE EYRE is a hugely popular book in China with its tale of female empowerment, romance, tragedy and redemption; in 2009 it was performed at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing and then at Shanghai Grand Theatre as a play; scriptwriter Yu Rongjun had wanted to develop Bertha's character but the idea was considered too unconventional. Step in Shanghai Ballet Director Xin Lili: "After seeing the play I had an idea that JANE EYRE could work very well as a modern ballet; elegant and graceful. The conversations were just so suitable for pas de deux. I thought it would be wonderful if we could present it as an innovative ballet with universal appeal and one that would simultaneously strengthen Shanghai Ballet's modern repertoire."
Xin Lili discussed the idea with Shanghai Grand Theater and with Yu Rongjun, and gradually gathered together the creative team - including celebrated choreographer Patrick de Bana, writer Yu Rongjun, and set/costume designer Jérôme Kaplan - to discuss the plot, design and casting before getting the production underway.
Patrick de Bana views Rochester less as a hero and more as a villain; a man who ignores his poor mad wife so he can attempt to marry Jane. "The only victim in this story is Bertha," he says. "All she wants is love. We don't know under what circumstances she became mad, but since then she has been locked up like an animal in a cage; that's why I wanted to give her some credit and make her important. Bertha Mason is definitely my heroine."
Principal Cast and Creatives:
JI Pingping - Jane Eyre
Ji studied at Shanghai Dance School and has danced main roles with Shanghai Ballet Company in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, The Last Mission of Marco Polo, La Valse and many more. She won the Gold Medal at the 9th Paris International Dance Competition (Classical) and performed in Seoul at the first Asia Ballet Festival in 2006.
WU Husheng - Edward Rochester
Wu joined Shanghai Ballet after graduating from the Shanghai Dance School in 2003; he has danced in Swan Lake, La Sylphide, Coppelia, Romeo & Juliet, Giselle, The White-haired Girl, The Butterfly Lovers, and modern pieces Conversation with Chopin, Web5, The Song of the Mother and more. His many awards include silver and Igor Youskevitch Award at the 9th New York International Ballet Competition, gold at the 4th Shanghai International Ballet Competition, and Shanghai Dance Association's Outstanding Young Dancer award in 2011.
FAN Xiaofeng - Bertha Mason
FAN graduated from Shanghai Dance School and joined Shanghai Ballet; her main roles include Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, La Sylphide, Romeo & Juliet, Don Quixote, Grand pas Classique, and modern pieces such as Red Fan, The Horizon and more. She has also performed with Australia National Ballet as guest principal. Awards include silver at the 1st Shanghai International Ballet Competition in 1995; gold at the 19th Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria in 2000, and the 2012 Shanghai Literature and Arts Award.