Joan of Arc

“Jehanne” recounts the story of Jehanne D’Arc, known also as “Joan of Arc” in English. The legendary maiden protected the kingdom of France during a phase of the Hundred Years’ War and was famously burned at stake by English troops before being canonized as a Saint.

Joan of Arc will live again this February in an original ballet production.

A Knoxville-based dance company, Go! Contemporary Dance Works, has choreographed a visual interpretation of Joan of Arc -- the French peasant girl who led an army. The performance, “Jehanne...,” will show at the Bijou Theatre on Feb. 23 and 24.

Today only, students can call or visit the studio to buy $10 tickets. After the deal ends, students will still be able to take advantage of the studio’s $5 student discount.

A UT professor of Modern Foreign Languages, Anne-Helen Miller, helped create the show as a historical consultant. Miller has received a National Endowment for the Humanities for her research of French language and politics during the Hundred Years War -- the historical conflict during which Joan of Arc lived and died.

Miller said that the company consulted her to check the accuracy of the production’s historical elements. She also said that storytelling has an important place in performances like “Jehanne…”

“With a character like Joan of Arc, it’s important to not only to use the historical facts, but to also make a creation,” Miller said.

According to dancer Darby O’Connor, the ballet’s creative aspects are many. She said that for “Jehanne…,” the company is using production elements from projections to arial dancing.

“We always go big, in our words. We use a lot of production aspects other than choreography,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor fills several roles in the ballet, and also choreographed the “shadow play” section that will begin the performance. She said that many of the ballet’s visual interpretations of Joan’s life are unique; the performance includes a giant chess game, fire-colored costumes and a scene where Joan’s hair is cut live on stage.

“There’s nothing like it, there’s nothing that compares. It’s a huge production; nobody else incorporates other disciplines, makes costumes like ours, pays so much attention to music or lighting,” O’Connor said.

Representations of Joan of Arc have appeared for centuries. However, Miller says that this one is different.

"I don’t even know if there’s ever been a ballet on Joan of Arc,” Miller said, adding that Joan’s story has appeared in mediums from theatre and film to war bond posters.

“But the story told through dance, this form of artwork, I don’t believe it’s ever been done,” Miller said.

Miller said that the ballet’s ending uniquely fits its subject matter.

“It doesn’t end there. She becomes a message not only of resistance but of hope. The ending is not a tragedy -- it’s very French, that the ending is dark but there is a message of hope.”

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