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Repertoire Workshop From Chicago: Carmen and Jose [1963]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0136
Run Time
0h 27m 47s
Date Produced
Ruth Page has staged at least 4 versions of Carmen, all set to Georges Bizet's original opera music. The first version was choreographed and performed in 1926 at the Ravinia Opera. The second version, in which "Carmen" is transported to Civil War Spain, was choreographed by Ruth Page and Bentley Stone and premiered in Chicago at the Great Northern Theatre on February 1, 1939 by the Page-Stone Ballet. Additional versions were premiered in 1960, 1962, and 1972.

The version recorded on this film, entitled "Carmen and José," was adapted specifically for television.  It was recorded on November 24, 1963 by WBBM-TV Chicago for CBS's television show Workshop Repertoire; it was performed by the Ruth Page Ballet.  Patricia Klekovic dances the role of Carmen, Kenneth Johnson is JoseĢ, Ellen Everett is Micaela, Orrin Kayan is Escamillo, Charles Schick is Zuniga, Jeanne Armin is Frasquita, and Robert Boehm is the death figure.
The film opens with a shot of the clapperboard for the present episode (12-63) of Repertoire Workshop by WBBM Chicago.  This is followed by a blank screen and countdown beeps before a cut to the title frame: "REPERTOIRE WORKSHOP from CHICAGO" overlaid upon a group of dancers performing as an ensemble.  The titles continue: "Presents The Ruth Page Ballet;" "CARMEN AND JOSE."  The dancers complete their dance in couples reaching a final dramatic pose; "¡Olé!" is audible as they do so.  The setting appears to be a tavern or cantina, into which Carmen enters and slaps José, a soldier who is playing cards at a table, with her shawl.  He returns to his game while Carmen dances a seductive solo to the well-known "Habanera" aria.  A man soon arrives to partner her briefly, leading José to glance over occasionally.  

After Carmen completes her solo in a lift (with the assistance of several nearby men), all gather round and Carmen begins to deal herself Tarot cards: the final card is the Death Card, indicating she will die at the hands of a lover.  Carmen laughs it off and the crowd disperses, leaving her alone with José, who she wastes no time in trying to seduce (although he is engaged to a young woman named Micaela).  Unsuccessful at first, she exits.

Micaela then enters, much to José's delight.  The two dance a loving pas de deux.  To finish, he escorts her offstage.  This is immediately followed by an influx of Carmen and friends, who perform a lively ensemble dance.  José and his friend Captain Zuniga then reenter and, scandalized, try to remove the crazed dancers.  José and Carmen are once again left alone; he pins her down and ties her wrists together in an arrest.  Now tied up, she once again tries to seduce him with a solo.  This time, she entraps him in a pas de deux, manages to untie herself, and wins him over.  As they embrace, the face of the death card flashes onscreen (and in Carmen's mind), but she ignores it and passionately kisses her new lover.

The film then cuts to the next scene, in which a large group of people enters the tavern and a man in white (Escamillo) begins a solo while a row of women looks on (including a portion danced to the famous "Toreador" song).  Carmen and José are shown to be among the spectators, clearly present as a couple.  A group of four women briefly joins Escamillo; when he completes his solo, Carmen is quite taken by him.  She throws herself at him and the two ignore José and others' attempts to tear the two apart.

Blinded by rage, José throws Carmen aside and challenges Escamillo to a duel.  Captain Zuniga tries to intervene and separate them but José accidentally stabs his friend to death.  He tries to embrace Carmen but she shoves him away and exits with Escamillo.  José then seems to go mad, and it takes several men to restrain him.  The camera fades out.

Fading in to the next scene, the camera shows José in jail.  The film then begins to hold a rippling effect to indicate the beginning of a dream: in it, José dances a pas de deux with Micaela as his bride.  As they complete the pas de deux and he looks up at her, she has been replaced by Carmen.  Angry and tormented, he tries to end the dream or banish her, but she continues dancing around him--and then with him.  Their pained pas de deux ends with him choking her on the ground; he then wakes up back in the jail.

The camera then fades to the final scene, at a bullfight for Escamillo.  Four couples introduce the scene with an ensemble dance, after which Escamillo and Carmen enter together.  They kiss passionately before he and the other dancers exit.  Carmen is thus left alone, and a crazed José, escaped from prison, enters and grabs her by the neck.  Frightened, she backs away from him as he begins a groveling solo.  This leads into a pas de deux of refusal on Carmen's part; she seems to delight in rejecting him.  During this dance, the figure of Death enters stage as a final warning, and José once again clasps his hands around Carmen's neck.  She removes them and throws him off her, but with Death's assistance, he nearly goes through with it.  But first, she continues to dance and refuse him.  He then produces the scarf he had tied her up with during their courtship and, placing it around her neck one final time, strangles her as Death watches.

The two fall to the ground, José immediately regretting what he has done, but it is too late--the Death Card prophesy has come true.  It is over this scene that the final credits begin to roll.  (See below).
Main Credit
Thorsen, Arthur (is producer)
Robbins, Bill (is director)
CBS (corporate name)
Additional Credit
Bizet, Georges (is composer)
Camryn, Walter (is choreographer)
Dahlberg, Edward (sound)
Ferber, Henri (music)
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Santschi, Roger (is contributor)
Van Grove, Isaac (music)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Everett, Ellen (is performer)
Kayan, Orrin (is performer)
Schick, Charles (is performer)
Armin, Jeanne (is performer)
Boehm, Robert (is performer)
Related Places
Chicago (production location of)
Chicago (production location of)