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Prince Igor (Nureyev) [1962, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0059
Run Time
0h 4m 19s
Date Produced
October 1962
Michel Fokine's "Polovtsian Dances," from Alexander Borodin's opera Prince Igor, were performed by Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet in fall of 1962; the Chicago premiere was October 12.  Rudolph Nureyev, who had made his American stage debut in March of 1962, was contracted to join the cast as a soloist, along with Sonia Arova.

This film, apparently from an October 1962 performance of the Polovtsian Dances, includes portions of several movements from the performance.
The film opens with a somewhat shaky shot of a stage, with numerous dancers crowded around its edges, watching a group of four women ("maidens," soon joined by a fifth) dance as an ensemble (in flat shoes).  Eventually, a similarly costumed soloist enters and dances in front of them very briefly; all then land in a final kneeling pose and the film cuts to a different segment.  Two male characters stand at center, one apparently a ruler and the other with a bow, but before they can dance, the film cuts twice more to a group dance and then to a female soloist.  She is costumed not unlike an Arabian princess, and dancing seductively.  

The camera then cuts once again to a male soloist (which appears to be Nureyev) dancing a grand allegro with a bow.  He is then joined by four more men, also with bows.  The film then skips forward to six such men dancing in a row, mimicking the shooting of arrows from their bows; another row of six then come from behind them and repeat their movements.  Next, the film cuts to another Nureyev solo (without the bow), though he is joined by several other men, who follow him two at a time.  The film cuts to a large group dance for a moment before returning to a Nureyev solo which circles the seductive soloist from earlier, now crouched at center.  He encourages her to rise while the two are surrounded by the men with bows.

Afterwards, the camera cuts quickly between multiple segments, settling on an ensemble dance of four men.  They complete their dance and sit at the downstage edge while two (and then three more) of the maidens from the beginning approach from upstage.  The men then disappear in a cut but the maidens' dance continues until the film ends.
Additional Credit
Borodin, Alexander (is composer)
Fokine, Michel (is choreographer)
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Nureyev, Rudolf (is performer)
Arova, Sonia (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)