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[Untitled] (ballet pupil murder story)

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0137
Run Time
0h 27m 44s
Format
16mm
Color
B&W
Sound
Optical
Abstract
This unitentified ballet, presumably choreographed by Ruth Page, seems to follow the experiences of a young dancer lacking discipline but eager to go "en pointe."  Her male instructor allows her to do so perhaps too early, and when she is unable to meet his expectations, he accidentally kills her in a fit of rage.
Description
The film opens with a shot of a dance studio in which a man is standing.  A young woman with a bag enters from the back door and he begins ostentatiously tidying up.  She waits in the doorway, seeming to do warm up exercises, while he moves furniture about and contemplates a pair of pointe shoes.  He tidies up himself last and opens the door for her.  Having let her in, he then walks out briefly while she dances a solo with her purse.  She then pulls a pair of pointe shoes from her bag and hugs them tightly, after which she sits down and excitedly begins to put them on.  The man returns and takes the pointe shoe right back off, forcing her to put them and the bag away.  When he exits again, however, she puts the shoes on her hands and dreams up a solo dance, mimicking her legs' movements with her arms.  She then puts away the shoes and imagines dancing with a partner, for which she uses the curtains on the window.  The man soon returns and stops her, bringing her away from the windows.

The film then cuts forward to a later segment in the ballet.  The female pupil is now joined by another woman, and the man is absent.  Then the man enters awkwardly via a side door and bows a greeting to the pupil, who curtsies back.  They nearly shake hands, but he is again too awkward, so he simply hands the paper item he is holding to the other woman and heads over to the barre, where he demonstrates steps for the female pupil to follow along with and watch.  She then takes her turn at demonstrating her own combination.  Comically, she continues after the music stops.  Next, he tries to walk her through stretching and other simple combinations but she makes gag-like mistakes.  Even after she does a comination correctly and he dismisses her for center, she is more interested in her reflection than the next combination.  So when the time comes, he moves her body for her at first, but she shoos him away and insists on demonstrating her skills.  As she does so, the man fetches the pointe shoes placed to the side and offers them to her as a prize; she reaches for them with great anticipation but the other woman attempts to snatch them back.  The man retains possession and dances a solo while brandishing the shoes--he eventually lets her grab them.  The other woman rises furiously and appears to argue that the young woman is not ready for pointe shoes.

Ignoring the woman's protestations, the pupil returns with the pointe shoes on and performs a simple but competent solo in them.  Soon, however, her feet begin to hurt so her male instructor comes forward to partner her.  Even so, her feet hurt so much that she sits down to rest but he refuses to allow this; he convinces her to get up and dance some more, but she once again peters out.  He becomes quite angry and seems prepared to strike her; the other woman steps in and they dance a contentious pas de deux while the pupil cowers in pain on a stool.  The man then throws a stack of papers at the woman so she exits just as the pupil has regained enough strength to stand up and try again.  Of course, she soon gives up and he becomes angry again; the film cuts quickly and the man has donned a jacket, which he now removes.  He also rolls up his sleeves and partners his pupil once again, refusing to give up.  The pattern continues to the point where he circles her obsessively and she falls to the ground.  He pulls her up and spins her around a few times.  The film then cuts forward slightly to a continued, frenetic pas de deux.

Suddenly, the instructor grabs his pupil by the neck and bends her over the ballet barre.  She goes limp and slumps to the ground; he appears to have killed her.  At first calmly rolling his sleeves back down, the man realizes what he's done when the other woman returns to reprimand him.  He at first tries to strangle her as well but, failing, collapses and begins to beg with her.  She relents but he recoils as she tries to help him up.  Once she does so, she merely wags a finger at him and helps him back into his jacket.  She then enlists his help in lifting the body, which they carry offstage.  She returns, prim and proper, to rearrange the furniture and draw the imaginary stage curtain to a close.  The ballet appears to end there.

The film then cuts, however, to a repeat of the last few moments.  In this version, a different man plays the instructor and he wears a slightly different costume.  He is rolling his sleeves back down, having choked his pupil to death, when interrupted not by the woman but by the man who originally performed the instructor role.  The ensuing choreography remains the same, except that the dead pupil seems to return for a final reprise of her dance before the curtain is closed.  The film ends afterwards.
Genre
Dance
Subject
Dance