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Daphne [1960s, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0010
Run Time
0h 7m 20s
Date Produced
"Daphne" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page that was apparently never performed.  André Delfau designed costumes for it but there is no record of it ever premiering.

This film represents a rehearsal of the never-performed ballet.  The film's canister notes suggest that the ballet has two parts, that Charles Schick rehearses parts of both in this excerpt, and that Neal Kayan either composed the music or was playing the music for this rehearsal.
The film begins with a very brief clip of a couple: the man, in a red and white pinstriped shirt and a black vest, carries a woman in a frilly white dress and black character shoes on his shoulder.  He adjusts her skirts as if for a photoshoot.  

The film then cuts to an off-kilter shot of a stage before squaring off on the stage where a man dances with an imaginary woman.  He is wearing bell-bottomed pants, a tight black jacket, a flamboyant scarf, and a black baseball cap.  His imaginary dance partner is constructed mainly of white fabric, with a bow tied just below the largest poof in the manner of a bouquet (or a cinched waist).  His dance is not only balletic; it is also rooted in popular dance styles and clearly meant to register as comedic via its exaggerated hip movements and mimed partnering.  The man dips, lifts, and caresses his pretend partner.

The camera then cuts to a calmer portion in which the man simply stands beside his imaginary partner and appears to interact with her.  They embrace and begin dancing slowly and sensually.  The dance soon speeds up again and returns to the lifting and dipping of before.  It then morphs into something a bit more "hip" as the man pulls the bill of his cap down lower; afterwards he takes it completely off to "hide" the "kiss" he steals from his imaginary ladyfriend.  

Soon afterward, there seems to be trouble with the camera or film and nothing much is visible for a few moments.  When the film returns to the man and his imaginary date, he seems to grow angry with her, so much so that he removes his cap again but this time throws it on the floor and thrashes his invisible girlfriend around.  Eventually he throws the entire fabric puppet on the ground as well, bursting away from it.  But he softens almost immediately, approaching it again as if to beg its forgiveness.  He kneels down and nearly lies on top of it before gathering it up and standing again.  He holds it tenderly in his arms, as he would a sick or injured loved one.  But suddenly, anger seems to overcome him again so he shakes the fabric friend and throws it down once again.  He then leaps away and falls into a kneel on the other side of the stage, sobbing and rocking himself.  But he soon rises and looks up, awestruck, as if at an angel appearing.  The film abruptly ends there.
Additional Credit
Kayan, Neal (music)
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Schick, Charles (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)