Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

December 28, 2005


Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 4:22 pm

Jane Eyre in the world of Modern Dance

I could not find much about this production of Jane Eyre from the Axis Dance Company, other than a brief description and a video clip, both from the Axis Dance Company website. The company “has created an exciting body of work developed by dancers with and without disabilities. They are in the forefront of paving the way for a powerful and inclusive dance form, “physically integrated dance”. The piece called “Jane Eyre” (1999) lasts 25 minutes. Choreography by Joe Goode, music by John Lurie, Simon Fisher Turner, Philipp Schatz. It is described this:

Two standing female dancers dressed in white nightgowns stand on the backs of the wheelchairs of two dancers dressed in evening coats. They move slowly, naturally and quietly around each other in the space. There are many leans and lovely lines made with the chair dancers and the two ladies in nightgowns. Pastoral feel.

A video clip is available for viewing and downloading here. (I believe you can save it by right clicking this link). The clip shows not four but five dancers. There are about three main movement sequences, all of which are very interesting to consider. Modern dance is one of the most poetic and ambiguous media we have today- and often the most deeply layered. These are merely my first impressions on the work.

The music- from which the ‘pastoral feel’ comes is mostly a soundtrack of birdsong. In the first movement, the ‘two ladies in nightgowns’ (who might encourage comparisons with Jane and Bertha although not necessarily), climb onto the top of the wheelchairs of two men- to rest nearly on their heads.

The pose is abruptly dropped- one of the women moves away briefly before returning. Her partner leans forward, resting his head into her lap. The other woman, meanwhile, has knocked over her partner’s wheelchair and is dragging it (and him) across the stage, from a crawling position. This sequence ends with the first woman leaving once more, and the second woman laying down near her partner’s head.

The third dancer arrives. The third dancer pairs up with the 2nd woman, and all move backwards in symetrical formation to recreate poses similar to the first movement, only this time with the ladies leaning together away from and dancers in wheelchairs leaning towards the fallen partner who has stopped moving entirely. At this point intrumental music comes in- a slow woodwind.

For the last moment of the clip, the ladies drop to the stage and all turn to face the fallen partner. There’s still nearly half an hour of the dance still to go- I cannot imagine how it would play out, and what it all means. There is no news on the piece being performed recently, but perhaps news of it will turn up and then we can take a better look!

This is not the only Brontean dance piece; there has also been a ballet about the lives of the Brontes (a post about which is coming up shortly).



  1. I don’t know if you have already this information but maybe you can find it useful.
    About the 2005 “Written on the Body” production:

    And about the “classical” Martha Graham’s production:
    Check this newsletter from the BS in Texas. Contains also information about another all-male play that is a parody of the Martha Graham’s one:


    Comment by Anonymous — December 29, 2005 @ 12:22 pm |Reply

  2. Thanks for the tip, M. I studied the Graham method of dance many years ago. I can imagine it would be something very emotive indeed.

    Comment by Brontëana — December 29, 2005 @ 1:52 pm |Reply

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