Jane Eyre

Posted December 4, 1998 at 1:47 am No Comments

I hate to take a good topic and beat it to death, but I just thought of another really cool story related to interpretive dance.  This one took place near the end of my senior year of high school.  In my English class, we were studying Jane Eyre, a very tedious yet very classic Victorian romance by Charlotte Bronte.  As a final group project, we were required to present an “artistic creation” inspired by a section from the novel.  Most of the groups made a mural, a painting, or a diorama, but our group decided to do an interpretive dance.

My friends and I had been slackers all semester, and none of us had even remotely enjoyed reading  Jane Eyre, but for some reason we decided to devote a ridiculously inordinate amount of time to preparing our dance.  I suppose it was our way of making fun of the assignment.  “If we’re going to look like idiots in front of our teacher and our classmates,” we figured, “we might as well go all out.”

We decided that no end of costumes, music, and choreography would make our dance complete if we didn’t have any special effects, so the night before the presentation we bought ten pounds of dry ice.  The plan was to turn off all of the overhead lights in the classroom, leaving only a few dark blue spotlights, and then to place the dry ice in a pot of hot water to create a surreal fog effect.  We ran into a problem during rehearsal though: after about 40 seconds of thick fog, the water became chilled to such an extent that the dry ice began to sublime very slowly.  We decided that we’d bring Vince’s water boiler the next day to keep the water hot and the fog thick.

We were assigned the section of the novel in which Jane spent an unhappy childhood at Gateshead Manor.  We convinced Geoff to wear a pink dress and a blonde wig; he was to play the role of young Jane.  We went to the hardware store and bought fifteen dollars worth red spray paint and PVC piping, with which we fabricated a large red cage.  Geoff knelt inside the cage grasping the bars with despair, in a gesture symbolic of the feelings of entrapment and oppression that Jane experienced during her stay at Gateshead Manor.  The rest of us dressed in black bodysuits and choreographed a complex dance routine, synchronized to a series of dark, ominous music clips.  Each segment of the dance was representative of one of the characters at Gateshead who had tormented Jane.  Jane was eventually able to leave Gateshead Manor for boarding school, so in the final dramatic conclusion of our dance, Jane (Geoff) was liberated from her (his) red prison, and we all danced joyously in unison to a driving techno beat.

That was how the dance worked during rehearsal, anyway.  The actual presentation went a little differently.  Our routine was going beautifully at first: the darkness and fog enveloped us; Geoff was shaking the bars of the cage; we were gracefully poking him with leftover PVC piping; and the somber music was resounding throughout the classroom.   Suddenly Kristina whispered, “Um… carpet’s on fire.”  None of us really reacted.  We thought that she was joking, and we were way too absorbed in the dance to pay any attention.  Five seconds later, she repeated much more loudly, “The carpet is on fire.”  That’s when we turned around and saw that the carpet was indeed burning vigorously.  Chris Moon’s initial reaction was to shout, “Oh fuck!  There’s a fire!  Put it out!”  Fortunately he then had the presence of mind to run over and stomp out the fire before it got any bigger.  I’m still amazed that he did this despite the fact that, like the rest of us dancers, he wasn’t wearing any shoes.

Apparently the electric cord to Vince’s water boiler was defective.  It had short-circuited in the middle of our interpretive dance, causing a small electrical fire.   We started the presentation again, but the flow was kind of ruined.  At least we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were probably the only English students ever to set fire to the floor and swear loudly during a group presentation of Victorian literature and still receive an A+.

No Comments yet »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.