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Bolero [1930, Highland Park, Ravinia]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0420
Run Time
0h 9m 30s
Date Produced
Ruth Page choreographed two versions of Bolero: The first version was called both "Bolero" and "Iberian Monotone." It premiered in Highland Park at the Ravinia Festival on August 31, 1930 and was performed by Ruth Page, Blake Scott, and the Ravinia Opera Ballet. This appears to be the performance depicted in this film. (It may have been performed again, with different dancers, in 1962.) The second version was called "Bolero '69," originally "Bolero '68." It premiered in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on January 8, 1968, performed by Ruth Page's International Ballet.
The film opens with screen credits, introducing "Ruth Page and Ravinia Opera Ballet in 'Bolero' by Maurice Ravel," followed by a shot of a small stage on which a group of women costumed in Spanish-style dresses sits in a semicircle. A single male dancer in silk pants and a shirt with puffed sleeves stands at center and demonstrates his dancing abilities; he is then accompanied by the women in groups of 2 and 3, dancing a number of short variations. About 3 and a half minutes in, a woman in white (Ruth Page) enters and performs a solo while the man looks on and the semicircle of women mimics her arm movements. Then the woman in white and the man begin dancing together--this section includes several close-up shots of Ruth Page. Eventually, the other women mask themselves, open paper fans, and stand, dancing mostly in place at the outskirts of the couple's performance space. Then, at about the 7 and a half minute point, the couple stops dancing and Page waves at the camera. But the film then cuts to further footage of the piece, with the semicircle now kneeling around the couple. Over time, the pas de deux becomes more intimate, with the two actually touching rather than simply circling one another. Page soon stops dancing a second time, but the film cuts back to dancing again. The choreography escalates near the end of the footage, as the women stand on their chairs and descend again, swish their skirts and shawls wildly, etc. The entire group reaches a final pose and holds it for several moments; the last few seconds of film are medium close-ups of Scott & Page, perhaps intended to be harvested as still photos for publicity purposes.
Preservation Sponsor
Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Ravel, Maurice (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Page, Ruth (is performer)
Scott, Blake (is performer)
Related Place
Highland Park (production location of)