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(Six rehearsal excerpts) Pastorale - Dance of the Hours - Mignon - Furlana - Masked Ball - Adriana Lecouvreur [1957, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0117
Run Time
0h 23m 31s
Format
16mm
Color
B&W
Sound
Silent
Date Produced
1957
Abstract
This film contains six excerpts from different ballets, all of which occur at the Chicago Civic Opera House and appear to have been filmed on the same day, as dancers are wearing the same practice clothes throughout and objects in the stage area do not move from segment to segment.  All ballets were presumably choreographed by Ruth Page.  Most of them are also operas, and would have been performed alongside the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Notes on the original film canister suggest the ballets included, in order, are:
  1. "Pastorale"
    While not the title of a known Ruth Page Ballet, this may refer to Emmanuel Chabrier's 1888 composition Suite Pastorale
  2. "Dance of the Hours"
    Based on the opera La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli, taken from its Act III finale. Premiered by the Chicago Grand Opera Ballet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at the Pabst Theatre on October 29, 1949.  Appears to have been adapted for a larger cast for the premiere of La Gioconda by the Lyric Opera of Chicago on November 1, 1957; this rehearsal is probably in preparation for that performance.
  3. "Mignon"
    Based on the 1866 opera of the same name by Ambroise Thomas.  Premiered alongside the Lyric Opera of Chicago on October 19, 1957. 
  4. "Furlana" 
    While not the title of a known Ruth Page ballet, this may refer to a portion of La Gioconda separate from "Dance of the Hours," as there is apparently a furlana (fast, duple time 6/8 music for the Italian folk dance of the same name) at the end of Act I. 
  5. "Masked Ball"
    While not the title of a known Ruth Page ballet, this may refer to the 'masked ball' scenes in either "Romeo and Juliet" or Page's "Die Fledermaus," though it might also represent a modified version of a "Masked Ball" ballet Page herself performed to music by Liszt in the early 1920s.
  6. "Adriana Lecouvreur"
    Based on the 1902 opera of the same name by Francesco Cilea.  Premiered alongside the Lyric Opera of Chicago on November 13, 1957.
Description
The film opens with a view of a stage, sans sets, where dancers in practice clothes enter from the left to begin a rehearsal.  Six female dancers enter two by two, bowing in the downstage left corner as if to royalty.  They then arrange themselves onstage and a couple enters, prepared to perform a pas de deux.  The six female dancers separate the two, circling around them before moving toward the back corners to allow the couple to begin their dance.  They are separated and reuinted a few more times before striking a final pose together, surrounded by the six female dancers, also posed. As one dancer begins to break from her pose, the film cuts to another rehearsal.

The second rehearsal begins with four women (presumably the 'morning hours') entering stage and performing an ensemble dance. The film cuts away momentarily in the middle of it (to a warmup?) but then returns.  As they complete this dance and curl up on the ground, a female dancer leaps onstage alone, soon followed by three others (presumably the 'afternoon hours').  The two groups dance together as an ensemble and then dancers split off one at a time for brief solos at center.  Five more dancers (presumably the 'nighttime hours') then enter from the back and perform an ensemble dance while the other eight look on.  Finally, a group of six men, split into two trios, enters and performs their own ensemble dance.  An additional trio of men soon joins them, after which the women all circle around the three groups of men (the film cuts away for another moment, again perhaps to a warmup).  Then all onstage move to the sides and bow down to allow the entrance of a central couple, who begin a grand pas de deux.  The rest rise, and watch the couple from a large arc around the edges of the stage. After an interim in which the couple exits and the others dance as an ensemble and then the first two groups of women dance in turn, the couple returns for their variations.  The group of nine men then comes forward for another ensemble dance, after which all come together for a quick finale and final poses (with some couples in lifts).

The film then cuts to the third rehearsal, wherein seven men (meant to be gypsies?) enter stage one by ne with acrobatic jumps and somersaults.  They then dance en manège as an ensemble before breaking up for more acrobatics.  When they strike a final pose (including a 5-man pyramid), a group of female dancers (meant to be townspeople?) strolls in and mingles with the men.  All then form couples and dance together.  Next, a group of three women enters from the back and performs an ensemble dance of their own before being joined by three of the men for more couple dancing.  The film then cuts foreward somewhat to the large group couple-dancing, which is interrupted by the entrance of a female soloist, who performs an energetic dance by herself and then invites two of the men to join her.  The rest dance along behind and beside them.  All then strike a final pose.

The film then cuts to the fourth rehearsal, in which three couples dance together; three more couples then join them on stage and all dance energetically.  Then, three more women enter, one of which performs a solo at center while the others gather 'round.  Afterwards, a group of three men enters and performs a brief ensemble dance at center.  All then come together for a large ensemble dance, during which they break into couples and repeat the choreography from the beginning of the segment.  They all join hands and snake around the stage merrily, but suddenly stop and look toward the back wall, as if alarmed.  Next, the film apparently cuts to a different segment of the same ballet, in which all run onstage and a group of four women performs a brief dance before the rest.  All slowly split off into couples and, after another cut, shuffle around stage in pairs.  They strike a final pose and then 'walk out' of it, perhaps as part of the intended choreography.

The film then cuts to the fifth rehearsal, in which the stage is set with a few meandering couples and two five-person 'trains' snaking around them.  Eventually, these trains exit and allow the couples to arrange themselves for more traditional "ball" dancing--partners bow to each other and perform waltz-like steps, among others.  The trains reenter briefly before the couples return to their dances, which repeat many of the same steps.  When the trains enter a third time, they break into couples and join the others before once again exiting and leaving the couples to dance.  Except for a break during which they mill about, the couples continue dancing until finally the men all kiss the women's hands.

The film then cuts to the sixth and final rehearsal, which is quite brief but begins with a trio of two women and one man dancing together on an otherwise empty stage.  The man then kneels and beckons a third woman onstage, and prepares to dance a pas de deux with her while the other two women look away.  The film abruptly ends there.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Steele, Barbara (is performer)
Buro, Etta (is performer)
Cummings, Patrick (is performer)
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Genre
Dance
Subject
Dance
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)