Christelle Horna on staging “JANE EYRE” for Joffrey Ballet, Chicago

Born in France, Christelle trained at the Paris Opera School and with Marika Besobrasova in Monaco. She was a Principal Dancer at the Ballet de l’Opéra de Nice, France where she performed all the major classical roles before joining the Compañía Nacional de Danza, Spain as a Principal Dancer under the direction of Nacho Duato. She has worked with world renowned choreographers including: Nacho Duato; Jiri Kylian; Mats Ek; William Forsyth; and Ohad Naharin among many others. She is a graduate of the State Teaching Diploma of Dance in France.She has held positions as Associate Director and Teacher at the Municipal Dance School in Oleiros, Spain and was the Rehearsal Director for many productions at the Centro Coreográfico Galego, including: The Sleeping BeautyDon QuixoteThe Nutcracker; Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat; Amaury Lebrun’s Magnificat; John Inger’s Full House; and Kenneth Tindall’s Four Seasons. Christelle Horna is currently a Rehearsal Director for Northern Ballet. Christelle was asked to stage Cathy Marston ‘s “Jane Eyre” to the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago.

1- Explain your experience working with Joffrey Ballet:

It was last summer, during August 2019, when I went to Chicago to stage the beautiful full length ballet “Jane Eyre” from Cathy Marston, for the Joffrey Ballet. I was the first ballet mistress to arrive and started with this process alone during four weeks. The good thing was that the artistic director, Ashley Wheater, gave priority to this production allowing me to have the whole company all day.
After me, Cathy Marston and Jenny Tattersall (one of her close collaborator) came to finish the work, clean it and put everything together during the last two weeks, ready to go on stage for the premiere.

2- Explain to us the process of putting an exciting ballet to another company:

Actually it’s a long, hard and complex process. You have to be very organised, to learn and know perfectly the music, all steps, patterns and every single details about everything on every spot.
Because I didn’t know this company before, it was very challenging for me to arrive, start immediately to work from scratch and at the same time, search, discover and understand all the dancers’s personalities, which is something very important for Cathy Marston. Interpretation and not only steps!
So the difficulty to achieve the best result was to choose the best interpret for each character involved in the piece!

3- Have you ever staged a ballet beside “Jane Eyre”?:

No, it was the first time, the first full experience and to be honest quite stressful as being a full length work for a start. But once I got started then it was very enjoyable. I had a beautiful connection with all company members and I came back with unforgettable fantastics memories about this process. It was just a shame I couldn’t stay with them for the premiere. But at the end, I was very lucky to see the first cast couple of the Joffrey Ballet perform a “Jane Eyre” pas de deux, here in Leeds, for the 50th anniversary of the Northern Ballet, few months later.

4- You were there when Cathy Marston created “Jane Eyre” on Northern Ballet. What are the differences between the two company?:

Actually I wasn’t yet working with Northern Ballet when Cathy came to create “Jane Eyre”. But I arrived shortly before we had to restage it. It was nearly with the same cast than the creation so the dancers remembered very well. I just rehearsed the dancers afterwards and assisted Cathy when she came at the last moment to put it on stage. So I could learn a lot of details and subtlety from her.
These two companies are very similar in a way. Both companies have very strong personalities so it helps to fit every single character from the Northern Ballet into the Joffrey. It’s never and can’t be of course the same result, fortunately. But at the end it’s always highly interesting to see the same story told by other persons.

Emma Kauldhar

5- Can you tell us a bit about Cathy Marston’s Choreography Language?:

Cathy’s choreography language is about merging classical and contemporary techniques, with most of the time the ladies using pointe shoes.
For her, the movement research is based on the interpretation more than the form, allowing the dancers to get  a deeper understanding of the character. At the start, she shares to the dancers a list of words describing in details the personality and psychology of each character in the piece in order to start crafting the movement based on these.

6- Which part of staging is more challenging, corps de ballet group scene or principal dancer’s pas de deux?:

I’m not sure if one is more challenging than the other, but just very different. This is the reason why I really enjoyed doing both. The hardest with the group scenes is more because you have to coordinate a lot of people in the studio at the same time, especially when you have to prepare three casts at the same time. And the work with principal dancers is like the icing on the cake but challenging to get in depth into the characterisation, coordination and execution.

3 replies on “Christelle Horna on staging “JANE EYRE” for Joffrey Ballet, Chicago

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