Scarlet 2018: Stephanie Joe

A Ballet 5:8 tradition, we are catching up with the dancers for their insights on bringing our full length ballet/film hybrid Scarlet back to the stage for our Spring 2018 Season!


Solo Artist Stephanie Joe

Q. Tell us about your character.

A. I dance the role of Silence, one of four leading women from the Puritan community in our retelling of Hawthorne’s story. Silence prizes her respected position amongst the townspeople and eagerly seeks to align herself with other similarly respected town figures such as Reverend Dimmesdale (who is greatly revered and adored by all) and “Doctor” Chillingworth. She maintains a pious facade of utmost propriety and scorns Hester for bringing shame to the community, but inwardly struggles with bitterness and anger towards her husband, the town’s jailer.

Q. What is your character's emotional arc?

A. From the beginning of the ballet, the Puritan community casts judgment on Hester for her sin. Silence is eager to see Hester punished harshly for committing such a serious offense against God and the community, but keeps secret her own deeply troubled marriage and is instead praised by the Puritans as being a godly, gracious wife. As time passes, Silence feels increasingly more trapped by the bitterness and shame of her broken marriage. She finally reaches a breaking point in Act II when her eyes are opened to the pain and hurt she has inflicted upon her husband. From that point, she begins to repent and genuinely seek the freedom and forgiveness that Hester has found through a personal knowledge of Christ’s love and redemption.

Q.  This role was created on you when Scarlet premiered in March 2017 - what is it like revisiting your character a year later?

A. I’ve really appreciated having the opportunity to further develop my character as we’ve revisited Scarlet. I’ve gained a greater depth in understanding of my character’s backstory, and her relationship with her husband is more clearly shown in this restaged version. It has also been an interesting experience dancing new choreography to familiar music! Overall, the story and dramatic portrayal in the ballet involves so much depth, so the accumulation of hours spent in the world of Scarlet (both rehearsing and performing) has been very helpful.

Q. How has the story of Scarlet has impacted you?

A. The story of Scarlet has reminded me of the seriousness of sin and how dangerous and destructive it can be when we keep struggles hidden. Ultimately, it is such a moving illustration of God’s overwhelming love for us and how no one is too far from God for Him to love them and bring redemption to us all.

Stephanie Joe (Silence) and Artists of the Company in the Act II "Sewing Dance" in  Scarlet .

Stephanie Joe (Silence) and Artists of the Company in the Act II "Sewing Dance" in Scarlet.

Q. What is your favorite part of the ballet?

A. I especially love portraying the arc of emotion towards the end of Act II in the “Sewing Dance” and the final church scene. The sewing dance begins with polite gossiping amongst the women of the town and devolves into a powerfully raw explosion of the tension, angst and hurt hidden beneath the Puritans’ collected facades. It is incredible to feel the intense, collective energy on stage in that moment as our characters reveal their true selves. We quickly re-assume our pious facades as we enter the final church scene immediately following, but for the first time in the ballet, Silence and the other three leading Puritan women finally admit their struggles and begin to experience healing and redemption.

Q. Why see Scarlet?

A. Scarlet is a powerful production filled with drama, passion, and intrigue, yet it ends on a beautifully hopeful note. I love how Scarlet brings Hawthorne’s American classic to life in a way that is relatable and moving. The story will take you through a journey of emotions; it doesn’t shy away from the difficult aspects of Hawthorne’s story, but the portrayal of raw emotion and the grit of real life points all the more to the beauty and hope of grace and redemption.