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Susanna and the Barber (The Dancing Lesson) [1955]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0084b
Run Time
0h 2m 0s
Date Produced
"Susanna and the Barber" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page and based on the Gioachino Rossini opera The Barber of Seville.  It was premiered by the Chicago Opera Ballet on April 25, 1956 at Mandel Hall, The University of Chicago, with costumes by Antoni Clavé.

This film appears to represent a rehearsal of an excerpt of the ballet from the year before it premiered: it includes only the "dancing lesson" conducted by a young woman's lover, disguised as a dance teacher so as to sneak past her strict father and steal a few kisses.
The film opens with a shot of two dancers in a dance studio, in front of mirrors with plastic hung over them.  They are wearing practice clothes, but the man carries a cane and the woman wears a small tutu.  He stands, functioning as both dance teacher and human barre; she stiffly practices her positions and steps while holding on to her instructor.  He swats her legs with the cane and demonstrates more difficult steps, which she cannot seem to master.  Not paying attention, she then loses track of which steps she should be practicing together with him.  She yawns, bored, and remains stiff as he prods her through the lesson--until he steals a kiss.  Her level of interest then begins to improve, as does her dancing.  The man then relinquishes his cane and the lesson morphs into more of a pas de deux.  The film ends abruptly while the two are dancing cheek to cheek.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Steele, Barbara (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)