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Ruth Page in Chicago [1987]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0499
Run Time
0h 27m 40s
Color
B&W
Sound
Silent
Date Produced
1987
Abstract
"Ruth Page in Chicago" appears to be a silent, black & white compliation of film clips of Ruth Page dances and other film footage. It was copied to video by Thea Flaum Productions on May 26, 1987, but the excerpts seem to date from the 1930s and 40s. In order, the excerpts include:
  1. "LakmeĢ" (?), danced by Ruth Page
  2. Unknown exotic dance (3 dancers)
  3. Unknown Arabian-inspired pointe solo 
  4. Unknown exotic dance (large ensemble)
  5. Valse Cécile (Choreography: Walter Camryn), danced by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone
  6. Backyard movement study
  7. Ethnographic footage (both daytime & nighttime)
  8. Backyard rehearsal
  9. Unknown solo (tennis costume?)
  10. Unknown solo (tutu & hair bow) + finale
  11. Ruth Page backstage
  12. Ancient myth ballet (?)
  13. Ruth Page and guests (?)
Description
The video begins with static, and then a full minute of SMPTE color bars, followed by a cut to black for almost 30 seconds before a second cut to a female dancer (Page) dressed in an exotic Eastern costume--a metal bikini of sorts, adorned with an elaborate golden headdress.  She dances in front of metallic sheets being held up by masked assistants.

The video cuts forward, apparently past a costume change on the woman's part, to a trio dance seeming to include her and the two (male) assistants in elaborate gold-accented costumes.  They continue to perform 'exotic' movements. 

The video cuts again to a woman in an Arabian-styled costume and pointe shoes performing a solo dance more based in ballet.

Next, the video cuts to a shot of a group of female dancers in short dresses, kneeled in a row. A second group of female dancers, wearing sari-like costumes, then enters in front of them; finally, a couple enters in front of them (the female dancer wears an Indian-inspired costume and the male wears basic American clothes). The couple dances together, often joined and/or surrounded by the second group. They complete the dance by walking down the center of the space, toward the camera and then kneeling in a pose while other dancers hold up a scarf. 

The video then cuts to a shot of a stage. Ruth Page, dressed much like a flapper and Bentley Stone, in a suit, dance together. This dance includes elements of waltzing as well as jazzier dances such as the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. The video whites out before the dannce is complete.

Next, the video cuts to a shot of a backyard in which a female dancer (perhaps Ruth Page?) practices sweeping arm movements in a large shawl/cloak. She also executes simple steps across the yard. She also faces away from the camera for a bit, and then performs a quicker, jumpy dance. Once again, the video whites out before the footage is complete.

The video then cuts to a long shot out of doors, in which a group of four (Native American?) dancers is arranged before a large crowd, accompanied by drummers. With bent knees, the two dancers in elaborate headdresses turn and stomp through formations with the other two dancers. The camers then pans right to show more of the crowd (perhaps at a pow-wow?). It then cuts to nighttime footage; very little is visible but fires and the outlines of bodies as they walk past the fires.

Afterward, the video cuts to another session in Page's backyard. This time, she seems to rehearse a more fully-formed dance. This one involves dramatic and somewhat modern full-body movements with a great deal of upper body bending, as well as sequences of chassé-like runs across the yard. There are also prances, wiggles, spins, and other varieties of movement. After Page seems to strike a final pose, the camera cuts to a shot of an older man with a little dachsund; Page enters the screen in the same dress she wore during the yard rehearsal and scoops up the dog. As she hands it to the man, the video whites out again.

Next, the video cuts to a very dark but high contrast shot of a female soloist (Page?) dressed in a tennis uniform and brandishing a tennise racquet. Her dance includes tennis-inspired movements. 

Before long, the video cuts again to another solo (perhaps Page once again). This time, the dancer wears a tutu and a large bow in her hair. Her pointe performance seems to mimic that of a doll or young girl in love for the first time. Two male dancers soon tumble forth through the back curtain and partner the female dancer, also joining her for a silly and lighthearted pas de trois. Just as they complete their dance in a silly final pose, the video cuts again to the finale of this ballet, where the stage is full of dancers. All dance as an ensemble, with the female soloist at center, flanked by the two male dancers from the previous scene. They then perform a series of bows. 

The video then cuts to a few moments of footage of Ruth Page backstage, preparing her hair and makeup for a performance. She makes silly faces in the mirror and goes back to her prep. 

After several moments of a blank screen, the video cuts to an extreme long shot of a stage performance. A group of five female dancers in bikini-based costumes with skirts and headdresses perform an ensemble dance. There are then several cuts forward to various other scenes from the ballet, including men who carry bows and arrows, and exotic/Arabian(?) female dancers.

Finally, after several more moments of a blank screen, the video cuts to a shot of Ruth Page, apparently out of doors but still in a tutu and pointe shoes, welcoming four guests and encouraging them to mimic her ballet steps. She begins dancing with two of the men, in turn. The video ends as she begins partnering with the second. 
Main Credits
Thea Flaum Productions (is producer)
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Camryn, Walter (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Page, Ruth (is performer)
Stone, Bentley (is performer)
Genre
Dance