Erikka Reenstierna-Cates, Mattia Pallozzi and Monica Giragosian in costume for Pride and Prejudice. Photo by Richard Termine, Courtesy ARB.

Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" Arrives on the Ballet Stage

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's timeless novel of class, family and love, will come to life this spring in Princeton, New Jersey. American Repertory Ballet's premiere on April 21 marks one of the few times Austen's writing has appeared as a full-length story ballet. ARB artistic director and choreographer Douglas Martin told Pointe why the story, famed for its witty dialogue, makes perfect sense as dance.

What inspired you to tackle this?

I wanted a full-length ballet that could be specifically for ARB. It's hard to write a great love story, and Pride and Prejudice has many different kinds of relationships at its heart, because of the Bennet sisters. That gives me many lead couples and all kinds of ideas about how people can interact with each other.

What music are you using?


No one has written a ballet score for this story, so I needed to find something that was not only beautiful to dance to but also reinforces the libretto. I did some research and found out that Jane Austen collected Schubert and Mendelssohn, but also a composer named Ignaz Pleyel, whose work reminds me of Mendelssohn's melodic themes. I'll be using his music for the score. It should remind you of the era, but the emotion needs to come through.

Will you use period movement, too?

There will be jigs, reels and minuets, but when a relationship is happening—in a ballroom scene, for example—classical steps will happen in the midst of the group.

What has it been like to go from the page to the stage?

I've put in about two years just trying to understand the book and figure out where to condense. Each character will need to possess a unique movement style and posture. This will define and express the character, along with the characters' feelings toward one another. The music will also help set the emotion and pace of each scene. Lots of people have told me they can't imagine this story as a ballet. But once you understand the emotion, it can come through the body. Dance is just another language.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Courtesy Boylston

Is the #EsmeraldaChallenge Quarantine's Next Big Thing?

By this point in the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, people are completely burned out on dancing at home. So it's no surprise that last week, all-around dance superstar Alex Wong posted a video on Instagram performing the famous La Esmeralda variation... but in his living room. And with a frying pan instead of a tambourine.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks