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Nutcracker (excerpts) [1971-1972]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0474
Run Time
0h 11m 6s
Date Produced
1971 - 1972
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 at the Chicago Civic Opera House in 1967 & 1968; it was then presented at McCormick every holiday season from 1971 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 by Rolf Gérard and scenery by Sam Leve.

This video represents excerpts from a rehearsal of the ballet, though it is dark and out of focus, with very quiet sound, and therefore quite difficult to make out. The original container label suggests this rehearsal is from the 1971-72 season.
The video begins with a shot of a stage, where attendants (played by children) are kneeled and where the couple representing Arabian coffee enter and begin their Act II variation. The camera pans back and forth to follow the dancers and reveals the positions of all four attendants. They complete theitr dance in a kneel and the video cuts to static before reopening on what appears to be this same group's entrance during the ballet's finale. Once complete, a female voice (presumably Ruth Page?) begins to comment, after which the video cuts to static once again.

It then reopens with a male voice apparently prompting a pianist with, "Okay, Billy" and a female voice (Ruth Page?) following with "And!" A couple onstage then begins the Spanish chocolate variation. When they kneel in their final pose, the male voice (louder, and thus closer to the camera) says "Okay" and the female voice follows with something inaudible.

After cutting to more static, the video reopens once again on a shot of the stage; the male voice says "Okay, here we go, Billy. And!" The Russian dancers (three or four men and one or two women) begin their variation. When they complete the dance and hold their final pose, the voices once again begin to respond and the camera once again cuts to static.

When it returns, the video this time presents a piece of Act I from the ballet: the battle scene. After the male voice says "Alright," a child dancer enters, performing the "bugler" role, after which various other child dancers enter and run around the stage, another set marches on, and all appear to be joined by some adult dancers. It is difficult to make out the mice versus the toy soldiers, but fight choreography seems to ensue. Eventually, all run back and forth across the stage as an ensemble, which is followed by a small cluster of dancers at center surrounded by a long row of others who circle them. The chaotic fight continues, with the Nutcracker and Mouse King taking center stage, until Nutcracker slays the Mouse King (presumably with the assitance of Clara's thrown shoe, but this is impossible to see in the video). As the mice file offstage and the Nutcracker returns to Clara, the female voice in the background begins to respond and the video ends. 
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)