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Faust [1963, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0012
Run Time
0h 19m 3s
Date Produced
While Ruth Page originally choreographed a ballet entitled "Faust" in 1926 at Ravinia, it is unclear how much this 1963 version was based on the original choreography, or how closely related it is to Page's "Mephistophela," premiered in January of 1963. This film of a rehearsal at the Chicago Civic Opera House is likely from October of 1963, when The Chicago Lyric Opera premiered its production of Faust, accompanied by Ruth Page Ballet dancers. It is conducted in practice clothes instead of André Delfau's costumes, and the canister label notes that it was also conducted without Charles Gounod's music. The canister label further suggests that this represents the Walpurgisnacht festival scene--whose main feature is an orgiastic celebration.
The film begins with a shot of a stage, in which a group of men enters and forms a semicircle around the stage, followed by a group of young women who enter and begin an ensemble dance at center. Once they complete their dance, they retreat to poses in couples with the men and a male soloist enters, performing a brief allegro. He is then joined by a female partner and the two begin a pas de deux. The rest of the couples soon join them, dancing a modified version of their leading pas. After they reach their final pose, the film cuts to a different setting (and apparently a different ballet--perhaps Dr. Bat?) where a male soloist begins a dance, stretching out as if having just awakened. He is then joined by a female partner (in flat shoes) and they dance an intimate pas de deux together; the man then exits (still visible by a piano) and the woman performs a solo. Next, he rejoins her and they continue their duet, which includes numerous languorous lifts. As he carries her "offstage," the camera cuts back to the original stage, where several women in costume (as witches?) stand and receive a male soloist (perhaps Mephistopheles as a he-goat?). When he strikes his final pose, the camera cuts to a female soloist being greeted by a row of four girls, kneeling with goblets. After she completes her solo and exits, a group of men enters and lines up upstage, followed by a central couple and then a small group of women on each side. The couple performs a pas de deux as the others look on, occasionally changing formation or dancing small pas de deux of their own. As this ends, the camera cuts to a chaotic transition into a large ensemble dance blanketing the stage; it is followed by another pas de deux with a different couple, during which those lining the stage continually move about themselves. When this couple takes their leave upstage, the rest take over and continue their ensemble dance before collapsing to the floor around the edges of the stage and allowing the couple to return. After receiving a few drinks from servers, the group arises again and joins the central couple in dancing which largely consists of the men spinning the women over their heads. They then seem to inaugurate the finale, all dancing in unison save for the central couple. When they all strike their final poses, the camera cuts to about 20 seconds of another rehearsal from a different camera position, including only a male soloist practicing turns. The film ends there.
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Armin, Jeanne (is performer)
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Kayan, Orrin (is performer)
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Long, Larry (is performer)
Schick, Charles (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)