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Repertoire Workshop From Chicago: Carmen and Jose [1963] - Ruth Page excerpts [1927-1949]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0502
Run Time
0h 49m 45s
Color
color and B&W
Sound
Mono
Date Produced
1963
Abstract
"Carmen and Jose" is one of Ruth Page's versions of the ballet Carmen. Page has staged at least 4 versions of Carmen, all set to Georges Bizet's original opera music. The first version was choreographed and performed in 1926 at the Ravinia Opera. The second version, in which "Carmen" is transported to Civil War Spain, was choreographed by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone and premiered in Chicago at the Great Northern Theatre on February 1, 1939 by the Page-Stone Ballet. Additional versions were premiered in 1960, 1962, and 1972.

The version recorded in this video, entitled "Carmen and Jose," was adapted specifically for television.  It was recorded on November 24, 1963 by WBBM-TV Chicago for CBS's television show Workshop Repertoire; it was performed by the Ruth Page Ballet.  Patricia Klekovic dances the role of Carmen, Kenneth Johnson is José, Ellen Everett is Micaela, Orrin Kayan is Escamillo, Charles Schick is Zuniga, Jeanne Armin is Frasquita, and Robert Boehm is the death figure.

This video also contains a compilation of (silent) excerpts of Ruth Page choreographies (1927-1949), transferred from film. In order, these include:
  1. "A Glass," rehearsed by Ruth Page in her studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago, c. 1932. (Costume by Pavel Tchelitchew)
  2. "Phoenix," rehearsed by Ruth Page in her studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago, c. 1932. (Costume by Nicholas Remisoff)
  3. "Variations on Euclid," rehearsed by Ruth Page in her studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago, c. 1932. (Costume by Pavel Tchelitchew) 
  4. "Carmen," Act IV: pas de trois, performed by the Chicago Opera Ballet. Cast: Walter Camryn, Bettina Rosay, Betsy Ross.
  5. "Lakmé," danced by Ruth Page.
  6. "The Bells," silver bells, danced by Ruth Page in Page's studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago.
  7. "Billy Sunday," Samson and Delilah episode, performed by Ruth Page and Jerome Andrews in Page's studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago.
  8. "The Bells," King of the Ghouls, danced by Jerome Andrews in Page's studio at her home in Hubbard Woods, Chicago.
  9. "Carmen," Act II solo, performed by Ruth Page, outdoors in a Spanish costume, c. 1927 .
  10. "The Flapper and the Quarterback," danced by Ruth Page and Paul Dupont.
  11. "Valse Cécile" (Choreography: Walter Camryn), danced by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone.
  12. "Danse Arabe" (from Music in My Heart), rehearsed by Pauline Goddard and members of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, 1949.
Individual copies of many of these excerpts (and their larger ballets) can be found in Series I of this collection. 
Description
The video opens with countdown beeps accompanied by a full minute of SMPTE color bars, followed by a shot of a group of dancers dancing on a set designed to be a tavern or cantina, over which the program titles are soon overlaid:  "REPERTOIRE WORKSHOP from CHICAGO" ... "Presents The Ruth Page Ballet"... "CARMEN AND JOSE." The dancers complete their dance in couples reaching a final dramatic pose; "¡Olé!" is audible as they do so. Then Carmen enters and slaps José, a soldier who is playing cards at a table, with her shawl. He returns to his game while Carmen dances a seductive solo to the well-known "Habanera" aria.  

After Carmen completes her solo in a lift (with the assistance of several nearby men), all gather round and Carmen begins to deal herself Tarot cards: the final card is the Death Card, indicating she will die at the hands of a lover.  Carmen laughs it off and the crowd disperses, leaving her alone with José, who she wastes no time in trying to seduce (although he is engaged to a young woman named Micaela).  Unsuccessful at first, she exits.

Micaela then enters, much to José's delight.  The two dance a loving pas de deux.  To finish, he escorts her offstage.  This is immediately followed by an influx of Carmen and friends, who perform a lively ensemble dance.  José and his friend Captain Zuniga then reenter and, scandalized, try to remove the crazed dancers.  José and Carmen are once again left alone; he pins her down and ties her wrists together in an arrest.  Now tied up, she once again tries to seduce him with a solo.  This time, she entraps him in a pas de deux, manages to untie herself, and wins him over.  As they embrace, the face of the death card flashes onscreen (and in Carmen's mind), but she ignores it and passionately kisses her new lover.

The film then cuts to the next scene, in which a large group of people enters the tavern and a man in white (Escamillo) begins a solo while a row of women looks on (including a portion danced to the famous "Toreador" song).  Carmen and José are shown to be among the spectators, clearly present as a couple.  A group of four women briefly joins Escamillo; when he completes his solo, Carmen is quite taken by him.  She throws herself at him and the two ignore José and others' attempts to tear the two apart.

Blinded by rage, José throws Carmen aside and challenges Escamillo to a duel.  Captain Zuniga tries to intervene and separate them but José accidentally stabs his friend to death.  He tries to embrace Carmen but she shoves him away and exits with Escamillo.  José then seems to go mad, and it takes several men to restrain him.  The camera fades out.

Fading in to the next scene, the camera shows José in jail.  The film then begins to hold a rippling effect to indicate the beginning of a dream: in it, José dances a pas de deux with Micaela as his bride.  As they complete the pas de deux and he looks up at her, she has been replaced by Carmen.  Angry and tormented, he tries to end the dream or banish her, but she continues dancing around him--and then with him.  Their pained pas de deux ends with him choking her on the ground; he then wakes up back in the jail.

The camera then fades to the final scene, at a bullfight for Escamillo.  Four couples introduce the scene with an ensemble dance, after which Escamillo and Carmen enter together.  They kiss passionately before he and the other dancers exit.  Carmen is thus left alone, and a crazed José, escaped from prison, enters and grabs her by the neck.  Frightened, she backs away from him as he begins a groveling solo.  This leads into a pas de deux of refusal on Carmen's part; she seems to delight in rejecting him.  During this dance, the figure of Death enters stage as a final warning, and José once again clasps his hands around Carmen's neck.  She removes them and throws him off her, but with Death's assistance, he nearly goes through with it.  But first, she continues to dance and refuse him.  He then produces the scarf he had tied her up with during their courtship and, placing it around her neck one final time, strangles her as Death watches.

The two fall to the ground, José immediately regretting what he has done, but it is too late--the Death Card prophesy has come true.  It is over this scene that the final credits begin to roll.  (See below).

The video cuts to black, then to several minutes of static, and then back to the SMPTE color bars. Eventually it cuts to black again and then cuts to the series of excerpts detailed in the description above--some are in color, others in black and white; all silent. 

For "A Glass," Page appears to be wearing plastic puff-mittens and a similar plastic hat/hair piece. The dance involves many bourrées back and forth, as well as turning in place. There are frequent changes in port de bras and eventually, many small hops en pointe.

Page begins "Phoenix" lying on her back, performing much of the choreography on the ground (she is also barefoot). Once she stands, she seems to experiment with various bird-like movements--developés, arm flaps, etc. 

Next, Page begins her excerpt from "Variations on Euclid" in a kneel, wearing a "rope" costume consisting of three elastic bands connecting her arms and ankles. Page variously stretches and manipulates the spatial relationships between her arms and ankles, soon standing and bourréeing, moving into an arabesque attitude, followed by developés, turns, etc. 

The "Carmen" excerpt is performed on a stage in full costume. The male dancer (in a cape) partners each of the two female dancers in turn, one of the female dancers performs a fouetté-heavy solo, and then the male dancer continues to switch back and forth between the two. He also dances a solo, using his cape as a choreographic prop. The female dancers dance much of the rest of the clip in unison, with occasional interventions by the man. The three complete the segment in a group pose, wrapped in the cape.

The "Lakmé" excerpt is quite brief and appears to feature Ruth Page performing an exotic dance as Lakmé.

Page's excerpt from "The Bells" involves developés, bourrées, pirouettes, walks en pointe, grand emboîtés, ronds du jambe en l'air, etc. 

The "Billy Sunday" excerpt begins with Page in a bed and Andrews stretching and flexing his muscles; when she rises, she dances a seductive dance with a triangular racket-like prop. Andrews seems overwhelmed and falls back into the bed, where Page joins him. 

Andrews then dances the King of Ghouls solo from "The Bells" with its stiff upper body, grand battements, and exaggerated walks. 

Page's performance of the "Carmen" solo excerpt is filmed in an elaborate Spanish-influenced dress, shawl, and hat. She appears to be dancing on a platform at a sandy beach, positioned right by bushes and/or a tree line. Page demonstrates and repeats a series of wrist movements, turns, and hip-led steps, making frequent eye contact with the camera. 

The "Flapper and the Quarterback" excerpt begins with a male dancer dressed as a football quarterback performing football movements--a hike and a slide.  Then the flapper enters from stage left, scurrying in backwards and waving a flag as if spectating at the game.  She seems to be trying to catch the attention of someone else, but she bumps into the quarterback and forgets that someone else immediately.  The quarterback takes and tosses her flag and then her boots; the two then break into a modified Charleston together.  Bits of Lindy Hop and ballet are incorporated; during the former, the quarterback completely drops his flapper on the ground in a moment of comedy.  She reaches for help up, but he merely pulls her skirt down, and when he helps her up he grabs one leg and one arm.  The two hug and continue dancing, again with a Charleston and then into a brief waltz--bits of ragtime-era "animal dances" seem to creep in as well. 

"Valse Cécile" includes similar choreography. 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. 

"Danse Arabe" is the grainiest and most difficult excerpt to make out. A female soloist stands in front, hands on her head and swaying her hips sensually.  Two men watch her from behind.  Two more men enter the frame, one kneeling and reaching toward her lasciviously.  As the woman continues her slow, seductive movements while standing and then kneeling/crouching, a fifth man enters to watch her.  She interacts more directly with this man, touching his face, and then blossoms into cambrés and sweeping ports de bras.  Soon, the other men stand back a bit while the woman rests her back on this fifth man's knee, but she once again rises and attracts them back with her fluid movements.  She has a similar set of interactions with a couple of the other men in turn, clearly actively courting the attention of the entire group.  She then begins including more ballet steps, including developés and ronds du jambe en l'air, for which one of the men 'partners' her, supporting her back and swiveling her around afterwards in a sort of flexed attitude.  Afterwards, she mounts the shoulders of another man, and is then lifted off by yet another. Several of the men lift the woman in the air (though she sits on one man's shoulders) and carry her in a small circle.  When she dismounts, the men sit on the ground around her as she extends her original movements into more dramatic steps.  The men reach toward her, engrossed, and rise to follow her as she begins to move away from their circle.  She moves closer to the camera and looks directly at it for the first time; it then cuts back (or forward?) to her position surrounded by the men.  She does one more seductive plié and then all seem to break character and begin to walk away. The video cuts to black, then green, and ends.

 
Distributors
WBBM-TV
Main Credit
CBS (corporate name)
Thorsen, Arthur (is producer)
Robbins, Bill (is director)
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Camryn, Walter (is choreographer)
Bizet, Georges (is composer)
Van Grove, Isaac (music)
Ferber, Henri (music)
Santschi, Roger (is contributor)
Dahlberg, Edward (sound)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Kayan, Orrin (is performer)
Schick, Charles (is performer)
Armin, Jeanne (is performer)
Boehm, Robert (is performer)
Page, Ruth (is performer)
Camryn, Walter (is performer)
Rosay, Bettina (is performer)
Ross, Betsy (is performer)
Andrews, Jerome (is performer)
du Pont, Paul (is performer)
Stone, Bentley (is performer)
Goddard, Pauline (is performer)
Genre
Dance
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)