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Midnight Waltzes [1978, Baltimore] - Misc. Television Excerpts

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0486
Run Time
0h 32m 31s
Date Produced
"Midnight Waltzes" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page in 1978 for the (now defunct) Maryland Ballet. It was premiered on April 6, 1979 at Goucher College, with music by Prokofiev.

This video appears to represent an early studio rehearsal of the ballet. It is followed by excerpts of miscellaneous television programs with prinarily separate audio.
The video begins with blackness and static, with a female voice speaking variations on "Testing, testing, ABC." The screen then remains black but a male voice is heard in the background, amidst other voices. In a few moments the video cuts to the image of this man, standing at the front of a dance studio with other dancers in the background. He begins to demonstrate something, but the video camera soon wanders to the floor, cuts to a close-up of a cat, and then cuts to black again (with voices once again audible in the background). 

At about the 2:10 mark, dancers finally come into view, posed near the back of a studio. The camera pans to show three couples, who begin to dance as music begins to play. The camera focuses primarily on the central couple, but the other two occasionally come into view as well. Before long, the couples break up into gender groups who dance separately before returning to their original partners. The choreography, unusually for a balletic "waltz," seems to include a number of turned-in pas de chats.

Eventually, the three couples exit and a female soloist enters and poses at upstage center. The video cuts to static momentarily berfore returning to a shot of the soloist, who soon begins her dance. Next, four male dancers (two on each side) enter and present themselves to her; she then partners with a few of them, after which they run a tight circle around her until two lift her flat in the air while the other two run around and under her. Finally, she is released to continue dancing and the four men mirror her steps in a row behind her. To complete the segment, the female dancer points vigorously away to send them offstage and moves into a final whimsical pose. 

The video once again goes black for a few moments, before returning to the posed soloist, who turns to face the back and slowly exits as a male dancer enters with similar steps. He is soon joined by a female partner wearing a sort of shawl. The two dance a pas de deux, using the shawl as a prop until discarding it for the majority of their dance. Toward the end of it, the male dancer retrieves the scarf and wraps his companion in it. In a disturbing turn of events, she then takes the shawl and uses it to choke her partner to death. Once he lies on the ground, dead, she covers his face with the shawl. (Their movement thus ended, the dancers begin to get up again before the video cuts away).

After cutting to black again, the video opens on another movement featuring the three couples. It pans back and forth between them more frequently than it did during the first movement. Eventually, the female soloist from the second movement returns to dance a brief solo in front of the three (or now four?) couples. After she exits, the couples continue dancing. The movement ends with three male dancers from the couples moving toward center as the female soloist returns; they lift her and strike a pose. The ballet appears to end there; the camera cuts away and then to black again.

After three full minutes of black/static, the video cuts to a montage of recordings from television. A separate audio track, perhaps from a sitcom, seems to be overlaid with the images of rocky sand in a pair of hands, a map, politicians and news anchors, TIME Magazine covers, etc. For one continuous segment, a Halloween poem is recited over news coverage. Toward the end of the recording, native audio from the television cuts in: a suspect for a shooting at a political rally in Maryland is described and then the video cuts to a couple advertisements before ending.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Prokofiev, Sergei (is composer)
Related Place
Baltimore (production location of)