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Triumph of Chastity [1954, Chicago, St. Alphonsus Theatre]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0144
Run Time
0h 27m 47s
Date Produced
"The Triumph of Chastity" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page, with music by Jacques Ibert and costumes by Leonor Fini.  It was premiered alongside "El Amor Brujo" in Chicago at the St. Alphonsus Theatre on December 12, 1954 by the Ballet Guild of Chicago.  

This film represents a performance of the ballet either on or around the date of its Chicago premiere.
The film opens with a shot of a closed curtain with a painting depicted on it; after a few bars of music it rises to reveal a set apparently meant to represent the pure white mountains of the moon.  From it, three dancers costumed rather like eagles rise and dance as an ensemble.  After they exit, the Unicorn begins to emerge from his white lair.  Sleepy and slow at first, the Unicorn embarks on a vigorous solo.  

Suddenly, he spots an enemy/hunter, appearing in the shape of a 3-headed dog, peering out from behind his cave.  The Unicorn runs and hides while the 3-headed dog moves to center and does a solo of his own.  Then, the dogs' master, a man with a spear, enters and threatens to slay the Unicorn.  The two perform a sort of face-off dance until the Unicorn bests his opponent.  However, as soon as the hunter falls to the ground, another appears, followed by two more--and the original hunter rises from the ground to join them.  When a fifth hunter arrives and they surround the Unicorn, he manages to run away.  As he does so, the nearest three to his escape route fall to the ground.

The Unicorn soon returns, however, and the fallen three rise again.  The Unicorn then dances a light-footed teasing dance through and around the hunters.  Illuding them, he exits just as four female huntresses appear, prepared to try different tactics.  All then stop to watch one of the huntresses perform a brief solo, after which the rest of the huntresses and then the hunters join her for an ensemble dance around the stage.  The Unicorn enters in the back and scares away the hunters.  

Just then, the leader of the huntresses enters and uses her wiles to draw out the Unicorn; the two then dance another sort of face-off dance and she seems to subdue him with her cloak.  Now a rather captive audience, the Unicorn watches one of the other huntresses perform a solo, eventually rising to engage with her.  She is followed by a duet of two other huntresses who he also wards off in turn.  However, he is then surrounded by four of the huntresses, who dance quickly around him and make attempts at capturing him.  Once all attempts fail, there is another huntress dancing series: solo, duet, solo while the Unicorn hides.  Then, spooking him, the huntresses manage to place one of their headdresses atop the Unicorn.  This leads him to dance a solo of his own, managing to shake off the headdress but then collapsing from exhaustion.  The huntresses then try to charm him again: a solo, a trio, a trio with capes, a solo, an ensemble dance.  Through it all, though, the Unicorn remains wary and eventually causes them all to collapse to the ground while he exits--just as the male hunters are returning.  The hunters revive the huntresses and carry them offstage one by one.  

The Unicorn returns to the stage, still in hiding, and the Goddess of Chastity enters.  She brings forth an innocent young girl holding white flowers and then exits, leaving the girl to perform an enchanting solo before the Unicorn.  She then makes her way over to him and softly caresses his pelt; the two then bolt up, afraid of each other, and dance watchfully around the stage.  Eventually they work up the courage to dance together, and the girl gives her flowers to the Unicorn.  Next, she offers him one end of a rope and the two dance a pas de deux with it--through this dance, she subjugates the Unicorn, convincing him to tie himself up for her.  Then, as the pas de deux ends and the girl leads the Unicorn back to his den to rest on her lap, the hunters and huntresses slowly return and descend upon them.

The hunters dance a brief ensemble dance and tear the Unicorn away from the girl; the huntresses follow with an ensemble dance of their own.  Then the huntresses all produce ropes and entrap the hunters much in the manner of the girl and the Unicorn; all dance rope-based pas de deux. As the do so, the Goddess of Chastity reenters and, allowing the girl and the Unicorn to escape, stands tall in the back and commands the respect of the hunters and huntresses.  The curtain then drops and the lights fade to black.

Suddenly the film cuts to the stage again, on which the Unicorn once again dances alone.  Just as he completes his solo and goes to hide from imminent hunters, the film cuts to black and ends.
Additional Credit
Ibert, Jacques (is composer)
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)