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Beauty and the Beast [1949]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0134
Run Time
0h 25m 0s
Format
16mm
Color
B&W
Sound
Optical
Date Produced
1949
Abstract
The first known ballet version of this fairytale was premiered in 1949 by Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet in London. That same year, on July 11, Page first performed her version of Beauty and the Beast (as a pas de deux with Bentley Stone) at Kansas State Teachers College in Pittsburg, Kansas. The full "Chicago Grand Opera Ballet" company then began to perform it as part of their tour of the South, with their first performance on October 29, 1949 at the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (tour continued through November of 1949). This film was presumably recorded during this tour of the Southern US; it seems to be shot from the vantage point of an upper balcony. The film canister label notes that filming conditions included "no lights, slippery floor."
Description
The film begins with opening credits, laid over a still from the ballet. The screen reads "PAGE-STONE BALLET CO. IN / BEAUTY AND THE BEAST / MUSIC BY TCHAIKOVSKY / SCENERY & COSTUMES / NICHOLAS REMISOFF / BALLET BY RUTH PAGE;" it then cuts to a shot of the closed curtains over a stage; above the stage, a large embroidered "C" is barely visible, perhaps referring to the name of the theater. After a brief overture, the curtains open onto a woodland scene with four maidens kneeling before a backdrop of trees overlooking a valley. Soon, the maidens rise and perform a brief dance; a dancer in a white tutu (Beauty) then enters and leads them in a further dance. Next, four gentlemen dressed lavishly enter and partner the four maidens, once again leaving Beauty to perform her own solo in the center. Following this, Beast enters imposingly from stage right and frightens most everyone onstage. The maidens and gentlemen exit; they are soon replaced by what appear to be woodland sprites in flowing costumes. Two of the sprites carry a large sheet, which is removed to reveal some sort of exotic female creature, who performs an equally exotic and sensuous solo to the "Arabian Dance" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. She is partnered for a portion of her dance by two other woodland creatures, perhaps wolves. This is followed by a silly pas de deux danced by two more creatures, one of which appears to be a bird. Then the courtship begins, with the Beast making himself small by crouching at center as the sprites encourage Beauty to approach him. Once the two have danced together a bit, the sprites separate them and hold their sheet up before the Beast, who is soon transformed into a prince! The sprites exit, allowing for the prince and Beauty to perform brief presentational solos to one another in preparation for their long pas de deux. When the pas de deux ends, the maidens and gentlemen reenter, performing a brief series of reprises before forming a half-circle around center stage. There, the prince and Beauty perform one more presentational solo each, after which they exit. At this point, the maidens, the gentlemen, and the woodland sprites all come together and prepare for the finale; Beauty and her prince return and join them for this finale. When all have struck their final poses, the curtain closes and the film ends.
Log
00:06-00:15 - Over what seems to be a still frame from the ballet, in white block letters: "PAGE-STONE BALLET CO. IN" 00:16-00:24 - "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" 00:25-00:30 - "MUSIC BY TCHAIKOVSKY" 00:31-00:35 - "SCENERY & COSTUMES" 00:36-00:41 - "NICHOLAS REMISOFF" 00:42-00:50 - "BALLET BY RUTH PAGE" 00:51 - Cut to shot of a stage with curtains still closed; music begins 01:32 - Curtains open onto a view of four female dancers dressed as maidens, and kneeling center stage before a backdrop of painted trees and a valley 01:34-02:30 - The four dancers perform choreography in unison on the ground at first, holding hands, and then stand and expand out into geometric patterns 02:30-03:43 - A single ballerina in a white tutu and with a dark scarf (presumably the Beauty) bourrées in from downstage left to lead the other four and perform a solo 03:43-06:10 - Four gentlemen, apparently costumed as aristocrats who might attend court, enter two at a time from the upstage wings and perform a brief petite allegro; they then begin to partner the four women (who had kneeled upon their entrance) while the dancer in the white tutu begins another solo in the center 06:10 - A man in a large, imposing Beast mask steps into the upstage right corner, and as he moves toward the center of the stage frightens the rest of the dancers, some of whom exit. He executes several simple steps, moving little but clearly frightening a lot. 07:20-07:50 - All four couples have now exited; Beauty and the Beast are joined by 2 female dancers from each upstage wing--they are dressed in flowing costumes, perhaps meant to be woodland sprites or fairies. As Beauty and the Beast begin a pas de deux, the two sprites circle the couple. 07:50-08:50 -Two more sprites enter, holding between them a large scarf or sheet, which they dance with at center while Beauty watches off to the side on stage right and the Beast slowly circles to upstage center 08:51-11:45 - The sprites with the scarf, joined now by 2 other woodland creatures (wolves, perhaps), reveal an exotically-clothed and apparently barefoot woman at center stage. She performs an equally exotic, seductive solo, set to the famous "Arabian Dance" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. The wolf creatures partner her as the Beauty looks on from her stage right perch with two sprites. 11:45-13:50 - The exotic woman and her two partners exit stage left, and sprites bring forth the Beast and two more creatures from stage right. One appears to be a bird; the other is difficult to identify. They perform a somewhat silly pas de deux. 13:50-15:50 - One creature exits, and the Beast returns to escort the other offstage; the four sprites reconvene at center and perform a dance in unison as Beast joins Beauty in watching them, occasionally moving to the center of their dance and making broad gestures. An intrigued Beauty rises and approaches the Beast, encouraged by the sprites. 15:50-16:50 - The Beauty now dances over the Beast, who has shrunk to a crouch; he then rises to dance with her and two of the sprites raise their sheet high behind and then in front of the couple. Beauty emerges for a brief solo; the sprites then run off with their sheet to reveal the Beast transformed into a prince! (His mask was removed.) 16:51-17:50 - The prince does a presentational solo for Beauty 17:51-18:45 - Beauty takes her turn by performing a technically difficult solo for her prince 18:46-22:40 - The two then perform a loving pas de deux, which concludes in a kneeling pose at center together 22:41-24:45 - As the music changes, the four maidens return from the four corner wings, followed immediately by the four gentlemen, who partner the women and circle the central couple. They then form a half circle upstage and bow to the couple, which separates so that they can once again perform presentational solos. The prince goes first; Beauty follows afterward. 24:45-24:58 - Beauty and her prince exit downstage right and, while the gentlemen watch in a row upstage, the maidens reconvene to dance at center. 24:49-25:40 - The maidens stop and pose in B+ as two sprites reenter from the upstage corners, followed shortly by two more. The sprites then switch places with the gentlemen, who now dance in the center. 25:43-26:22 - All dancers on stage now fill the stage in preparation for the finale; the prince and Beauty enter from stage right and join then down through center. After a very brief finale, all strike final poses and curtains begin to close. Then the film ends.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)
Wilckens, Friedrich (music)
Genre
Dance