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Thaïs [1959, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0016
Run Time
0h 7m 40s
Date Produced
"Thaïs" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page, based on the opera by Jules Massenet, itself based on the novel by Anatole France.  It was premiered on November 23, 1959 at the Chicago Civic Opera House, performed together with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Page had previously danced in a version by ballet master Ivan Clustine for the Pavlova Company in 1918, and had been ballet director, choreographer, and première danseuse for the Chicago City Opera when it performed its own version of Thaïs in 1935.

This film appears to represent excerpts from a dress rehearsal or performance from November of 1959, soon after the opera's premiere at the Civic Opera House.
The film opens with a shot of a crowded stage, on which a group of dancers is performing an ensemble dance.  Others line the stage and watch them.  The film soon cuts to a male soloist dancing before the same crowd.  Many sitting on the ground reach up at him as he performs.  The film cuts again, this time to a female soloist in lower lighting who is lifted up high by a group of men.  The orchestra is visible and a couple flashes suggest that photographs are being taken as well.  Then the film cuts once again, this time to an energetic pas de deux.  This couple is soon joined by lines of background dancers who then split as the man lays the woman down on the ground, only to lift her back up again and carry her offstage as another female soloist enters.  The film soon cuts again to another ensemble dance which occasionally breaks into couples.  This group then scatters and drops to the ground to make way for the return of the male soloist; after he completes a series of impressive jumps and turns, the film cuts again to the end of his solo, where he welcomes one of the female soloists back to center stage and exits.  After she dances for a few moments the film cuts to the other female soloist, once again hoisted high by a group of men and then lowered into a dizzying pas de deux with one of them.  The other men continue to spin in the background, waiting to lift her again.  After they complete several impressive lifts, the film cuts again to her pas de deux with the man, which also includes numerous lifts.  A group of dancers also moves in the background.  The film then cuts again to one of the other female soloists dancing alone before the crowd.  When she strikes her final pose and begins to exit, she is followed by another female soloist.  The film grays out during her dance and ends abruptly.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Bockman, Jane (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Steele, Barbara (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)