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Ed Sullivan Show: Merry Widow (Marsovian Ball scene) [April 6, 1958]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0036
Run Time
0h 4m 44s
Date Produced
This film represents a brief segment of the April 6, 1958 episode of The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS). It was billed as The Chicago Opera Ballet (17 dancers) performing "The Merry Widow Waltz," which is an excerpt from Ruth Page's larger ballet "The Merry Widow" (originally "Vilia"). Page choreographed the ballet in 1953 for the London Festival Ballet in Manchester, England; The Chicago Opera Ballet first performed it in 1955 at the Lyric Theater in Chicago, and later that year at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. This television excerpt is set on a studio set/stage and uses full costumes (both by Rolf Gérard); it includes dances from the ball Marsovian Ambassador Baron Popoff throws for his wife's birthday at the embassy in Paris.
The film opens with an attribution to WTTW TV (Chicago) for its "Recording Service" and then cuts to Ed Sullivan naming Mia Slavenska; the camera then pans to a studio stage set up with a ballroom set and an elaborate paneled floor; a number of well-dressed couples dance together on this floor. As they complete their ensemble pas de deux, the "windows" of the set are raised and replaced with a gazebo, suggesting a move to the gardens. As the couples exit, a group of less formally dressed young women enter and dance as an ensemble; when they kneel at the completion of their dance, a dapper young man (presumably Danilo, the Marsovian prince) enters and begins a brief solo. Afterwards, the group of women moves to the side and a young woman with two scarves (presumably Sonia, once a simple shopgirl but now a rich widow) enters, dancing a sort of response to the man's solo. The group returns and dances through a circular introduction to the couple coming together for a lively pas de deux, which mainly involves competitive turning. In the background, the other dancers speedily turn as well; all then land in unison in a final presentational pose. The curtains begin close just behind the central couple and the film ends there.
Main Credit
WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.) (corporate name)
CBS (corporate name)
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Slavenska, Mia (is performer)
Briansky, Oleg (is performer)
Arova, Sonia (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Chicago Opera Ballet (is performing group)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)