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Nutcracker (Act II) [1967, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0164
Run Time
0h 37m 30s
Date Produced
Ruth Page's version of the popular ballet "The Nutcracker" was premiered at McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, on December 26, 1965. After this, it was presented there every holiday season through 1997. The ballet uses Tchaikovsky's original score for the story by E.T.A. Hoffman; it was produced by Edward G. Lee, with costumes and scenery by Rolf Gérard.

This film appears to represent a recording of Act II from the ballet in Chicago two years after its premiere.  Full sets and curtains, costumes, and orchestra are present.  The film is shot from the Civic Opera House's mezzanine.
The film opens with a view of a stage, with sets arranged for the "Kingdom of Sweets," to audience applause.  Though the stage is fairly dark, a spotlight is trained on the Sugar Plum Fairy standing atop a platform upstage center.  While she is posed there, a group of angels streams on stage and performs a welcoming ensemble dance.  Once they complete it and exit, the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier enters and dances a brief introductory solo to inaugurate a pas de deux; Sugar Plum herself then comes forward for her own introduction before joining him in the pas de deux.  As they wrap it up, the angels reenter and line the stage.  Two butterflies then flit across the stage before a carriage enters in the back, containing Clara and her Nutcracker.  Then a series of pages enters in front of the angels as the couple dismounts, and they dance their greetings two by two before entering into an ensemble dance.  They then invite the Nutcracker to tell the story of his battle with the mice, which he does through mime.  Clara joins him to add her shoe-throwing and relive their victory through a very brief pas de deux while the pages celebrate on the sidelines; Sugar Plum and Calavier then descend from the platform to congratulate them and welcome them to the Kingdom of Sweets.  The guests then walk up to a throne on the platform and the pages courtsey in groups as they exit.  The angels also courtsey and move to the back while Sugar Plum and her Cavalier exit as well.

A man representing Spanish chocolate enters and begins a solo dance; he is soon joined by four couples dancing pas de deux on his periphery.  When all strike their final pose and exit, four Arabian attendants come forward and welcome the couple representing Arabian coffee.  The two dance a sensual pas de deux while the attendants surround them with a simple ensemble dance.  After they bow and exit, a man representing Chinese tea scurries onstage pulling a rickshaw.  He then begins a solo, joined by two female dancers from his rickshaw.  Toward the end of their dance, the film cuts forward to their exit.  Then, three men and two women representing Russian tea cakes quickly jog onstage to perform their lively Ukranian-inspired dance (the "Trepak" dance).  There is no sound for this portion.  After their exit, the film cuts to the Marzipan/wooden flute dance performed by a group of five women.  The sound comes back in during this variation.  Finally, Mother Ginger (danced by a man) slowly enters in her giant dress, but before she can lift her skirt to reveal her children (or "Polichinelles"), the camera cuts to the first six dancers entering for the Waltz of the Flowers.  Sound cuts out again.

The first six flowers are followed by four more, then the Rose (or Dewdrop) and two lead flowers accompanied by butterflies.  Sound cuts back in.  While these last two couples pose at the downstage corners, the flowers begin the waltz as an ensemble as the Rose leads with a solo.  Eventually, the Rose stands aside to allow the lead flowers to join and the butterflies to exit.  She returns down center and dances a brief pas de trois with the two lead flowers, after which the rest join a row at a time.  The Rose then steps aside again to allow the lead flowers to dance pas de deux with the two dragonflies who enter, after which she dances a solo while the rest look on.  When she exits, the two butterflies enter and dance together at center.  After this, all exit and the flowers reenter, with several brief solos by the Rose, who then initiates a finale, for which the butterflies, dragonflies, and lead flowers join her.  After all strike their final pose, they bow.

Next begins the grand pas de deux of the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.  Once they perform all of the segments, they bow together and exit.  Afterwards the flowers all reenter to inaugurate the final waltz.  After their ensemble dance, a solo by the Rose, and a reprise by the Marzipan five, the three Russian men enter, followed by the Spanish chocolate soloist.  Next are the two Arabians with their four attendants, followed by the Chinese trio, followed by Mother Ginger's eight children (in couples).  Finally, Sugar Plum and her Cavalier rejoin everyone, after which the flowers return as well.  Then, all come together for the finale and dance as an ensemble behind Sugar Plum and Cavalier.  To finish, all dance a slow goodbye to Clara and Nutcracker, whose carriage takes them away again.  The curtain goes down on Sugar Plum and Cavalier in a final pose and the rest looking on.  Applause is audible, and then the film ends.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Simone, Kirsten (is performer)
Kronstam, Henning (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)