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Mephistophela [1963?, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0083
Run Time
0h 4m 34s
Date Produced
"Mephistophela" is a ballet based on the Faust story, choreographed by Ruth Page in 1963, with music arranged and orchestrated by Isaac Van Grove from the Faust scores of Berlioz, Boito, and Gounod; scenery and costumes were designed by André Delfau. The ballet premiered in Park Ridge, Illinois as part of the 1963 tour of Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet. This film represents part of a rehearsal of the ballet in Chicago, conducted in practice clothes. The canister note identifies this portion as a scene in Hades, followed by a segment of fouettés performed by Ellen Everett.
The film opens with a view of a stage with no sets, full of both male and quite young female dancers in practice clothes. The dancers rehearse a chaotic group dance; they are meant to be demons in Hades. Limbs splay in random directions; some hoist others over their heads. All soon pause in a final pose and the camera cuts to another rehearsal of the same sequence; after the final pose the camera cuts to a different segment in which a group of the dancers do grotesque modifications of pas de chats, developés, and attitude turns. Afterwards, all repeat this choreography together and then fall down to the ground. The camera then cuts again, to a portion in which many of the dancers mimic riding horses around the stage; the rest sit on the floor and slap at it percussively. The demonics then continue in various formations, including one in which the female dancers ride on the male dancers' backs. All then jump and spin around, fall to the floor, and kick their legs. The camera then cuts to an entirely different rehearsal group, with a few dancers in the background but focus on a single female dancer (presumably Ellen Everett). She first practices a chassé, arabesque fouetté, pirouette sequence, but the camera then cuts to a fouetté turn sequence (which she rehearses in flat shoes rather than pointe shoes). It is presumably meant to be a set of 32 fouettés, but the film ends somewhere around her 23rd.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is casting director)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)