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Nutcracker (Act II) [1965, Chicago, McCormick Place]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0147
Run Time
0h 34m 36s
Date Produced
Ruth Page's version of the popular ballet "The Nutcracker" was premiered at McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, on December 26, 1965. After this, it was presented there every holiday season through 1997. The ballet uses Tchaikovsky's original score for the story by E.T.A. Hoffman; it was produced by Edward G. Lee, with costumes and scenery by Rolf Gérard.

This film appears to represent a rehearsal of Act II from the ballet, recorded either just before or around the time of its premiere; while the stage holds full scenery, the dancers are wearing practice clothes. The ballet's music is played on a piano out of frame.
The film opens with a shot of a stage set for the "Kingdom of Sweets," onto which enter a group of angels, dancing an ensemble greeting.  Once they complete it and exit, the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier enters and dances a brief introductory solo to inaugurate a pas de deux; Sugar Plum herself then comes forward for her own introduction before joining him in the pas de deux.  As they wrap it up, the angels reenter and line the stage.  Two (male) butterflies then flit across the stage before a carriage enters in the back (barely visible), containing Clara and her Nutcracker.  Then a series of pages enters in front of the angels and they dance their greetings two by two before entering into an ensemble dance.  They then invite the Nutcracker to tell the story of his battle with the mice, which he does through mime.  Clara joins him to relive their victory and subsequent travels through a very brief pas de deux; Sugar Plum and her Cavalier then step forward as well and carry their small guests up to a throne for viewing the divertissements to come.  The pages then exit in groups, courtseying to the guests on their way out; Sugar Plum and her Cavalier exit as well.

A man representing Spanish chocolate then enters and begins a solo dance, joined momentarily by four couples dancing pas de deux on his periphery.  When all strike their final pose and exit, four Arabian attendants come forward and welcome the couple representing Arabian coffee.  The two dance a sensual pas de deux while the attendants surround them with a simple ensemble dance.  After they bow and exit, a man representing Chinese tea scurries onstage pulling a rickshaw, out of which two female dancers jump to back up his solo.  When their dance is complete, the two women then pull their soloist offstage in his rickshaw.  Next, three men representing Russian tea cakes run onstage and perform a lively dance (the "Trepak" dance) inspired by Ukranian folk dancing.  After they bow and exit, a group of five young women scurries onstage and performs the Marzipan/wooden flute variation.  Finally, Mother Ginger (danced by a man) enters, surrounded by her eight children (or "Polichinelles").  When she reaches the center, the children jump out from her skirts (absent in this rehearsal) two by two and dance around her as an ensemble.  The boys also perform acrobatics before all return to their mother's skirts and exit with her.

After the divertissements are complete, flowers begin to enter for the Waltz of the Flowers: first six, then four more, then the Rose (or Dewdrop).  The flowers begin the waltz as an ensemble and the Rose leads with a solo.  She eventually steps aside as two final flowers join the formation.  She returns down center and dances a brief pas de trois with the two final flowers, after which the rest join a row at a time.  The Rose steps aside again to allow the lead flowers to dance pas de deux with the two butterflies who reenter, after which she dances a solo before the rest.  Once she exits, two more men (presumably also butterflies) enter and dance together at center.  After this, all exit and the flowers reenter, with several brief solos by the Rose, who then initiates a finale, for which the men join her.  Just as all strike their final pose, the film cuts to a blank/golden color, across which handwriting seems to speed a few times.

After a couple minutes, the film returns to the stage, where the Cavalier is launching into the final segment of his grand pas de deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy.  She soon joins him and they complete the dance together.  Once they bow, the flowers all reenter to inaugurate the final waltz.  After their ensemble dance, a solo by the Rose, and a reprise by the Marzipan five, the three Russian men enter, followed by the Spanish chocolate soloist.  Next are the two Arabians with their four attendants, followed by the Chinese trio, followed by Mother Ginger's eight children (in couples).  Finally, Sugar Plum and her Cavalier rejoin everyone, after which the flowers return as well.  Then, all come together for the finale and dance as an ensemble behind Sugar Plum and Cavalier.  To finish, all dance a slow goodbye to Clara and Nutcracker, whose carriage takes them away again.  The entire group strikes a final pose reaching in the direction of their exit.  Then all stand up and break character to signal the end of the ballet--the film ends there.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)