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Bolero [Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0006
Run Time
0h 19m 15s
Date Produced
Ruth Page choreographed two versions of Bolero: The first version was called both "Bolero" and "Iberian Monotone." It premiered in Highland Park at the Ravinia Festival on August 31, 1930. This original version was performed by Ruth Page, Blake Scott, and the Ravinia Opera Ballet. (It may have been performed again, with different dancers, in 1962.) The second version was called "Bolero '69," originally "Bolero '68." It premiered in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on January 8, 1968, performed by Ruth Page's International Ballet. This film appears to be a rehearsal of that second version which, unlike the earlier version, is set in a brothel and includes a striptease. It also includes brief footage of dancers stretching/warming up at the beginning, and several minutes of barre combinations practiced by 2 dancers at the end.
The film begins with a few wayward shots of dancers warming up. It then cuts to a view of a stage with a brick back wall, apparently at the Chicago Civic Opera House. Before it are arranged a semicircle of seated women, knitting. A man in a fedora slowly walks to center and mimics reading a newspaper. In groups of two and three, the women of the semicircle join him in the center, dancing around him flirtatiously. After finding them fairly uninteresting, he suddenly steps aside when a woman in an elaborate cloak enters the semicircle. All the knitters and the man suddenly pay close attention as the woman begins to reveal herself and then performs a strip-tease. This turns into a pas de deux of sorts, including sexualized lifts, during which the knitters are still attentively watching. Eventually, they all stand and begin encroaching upon the center couple, making vaguely sexual gestures. After they recede, the couple continues their sexually charged pas de deux. Then a group of men enters from behind the semicircle and joins the women in surrounding the couple; the men sit down and are seduced by the women while the couple continues at center. All then begin to dance more elaborately; the men split into two groups and circle the man and woman at center, lifting them above their heads afterwards. Finally, they embrace a final time, the group of men falls to the ground, and the other women throw their heads back in their chairs. This is the final pose of the ballet. The camera then cuts to warm-up/class footage, with two women practicing pliés and cambrés at the barre. They also demonstrate tendus, dégagés, ronds du jambe, and 'shaking it out.' It is apparent that they lack music, the dancers are clearly humming/talking through the later combinations. The film ends as they are doing developé stretches.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Ravel, Maurice (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Lipinski, Dolores (is performer)
Kayan, Orrin (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)