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Singer Presents Burt Bacharach: Nureyev segment [March 14, 1971]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0475
Run Time
0h 9m 14s
Date Produced
March 14 1971
This video represents a black-and-white recording of the dance segment from the television special "Singer Presents Burt Bacharach."  The special aired on CBS in color on March 14, 1971. This segment includes an interview/discussion between Burt Bacharach and Rudolph Nureyev as well as a modern dance performance by Nureyev and Bettie de Jong (choreographed by Paul Taylor), set to Bacharach's score from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The special also featured Barbra Streisand and Tom Jones.
The video begins in the middle of the special.  Bacharach and Nureyev are discussing their respective arts and the unique collaboration that they produce with the dance that follows.  The camera then dissolves into a shot of a circus-themed set piece, where Bettie de Jong stands, costumed as a coin-operated mechanical doll.  Music begins and she performs a stiff little dance that ends just as Nureyev runs gracefully on camera.  Apparently intrigued, he places a coin in her now-frozen hand, which she grasps and then pretends to swallow.  This cues up the music again and she begins to dance a little, but the main focus is Nureyev, who performs his own circus-like dance as if to mimic or outdo the doll.  This impressive solo includes a number of jumps, turns, etc.

After awhile, the music slows to a stop and the "doll" freezes again; Nureyev then returns to her and adds another coin.  She does not react at first, but after a kick and a shake from Nureyev, a quick cut to a color-inverted shot of the doll screaming is spliced in and the music starts up again, though she moves little.  A bit slower this time, the music allows for a bit more ballet, even as Taylor's choreography also plays with the notion of a stiff mechanical dancer in contrast to the fluidity of ballet.  At one point, de Jong and Nureyev perform the same stiff movements in unison, she standing almost directly behind him; the camera dips low enough that she almost seems to emanate straight out of him as some sort of shadow.  She then returns to her stiff pose and Nureyev continues with a dramatic solo, reaching toward her desperately and then falling to the ground in apparent agony.  She comes to his rescue and the two dance a ballroom-inspired pas de deux, stiffly at first.  

Eventually, she lures him into her circus "tent," where she apparently holds him prisoner on the other side.  It becomes clear that the color inversion moment from before was foreshadowing; as if to represent panic and chaos the color now frequently inverts and the camera has zoomed in for panicked close-ups of the now-captured Nureyev.  The music becomes faster and higher pitched as the doll subjugates and appears to begin devouring her prey.  The video freezes as he seems to push himself out of her clutches; it then cuts to the front of the set piece, where Nureyev's body lies on the ground and a 'ghost' of his form falls back into his body.  The doll appears, apparently still in control of his body, and gesturally commands him to roll over, after which she places her small cape on him.  Now mechanized, he stands up rigidly by her side, clearly having transformed into her partner and a fellow mechanical dancing doll.  Though he wobbles, she brings him up to the doll pedestal with her.  They embrace and then land in a final stiff pose.  Applause is audible; the video fades to black and then ends.
Main Credit
Hemion, Dwight (is director)
Hemion, Dwight (is co-producer)
Smith, Gary (is co-producer)
Singer Corporation (corporate name)
Additional Credit
Taylor, Paul (is choreographer)
Bacharach, Burt (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Bacharach, Burt (is host)
Nureyev, Rudolf (is interviewee)
Nureyev, Rudolf (is performer)
de Jong, Bettie (is performer)