dontate now

Join Email List

Facebook  Become a Fan on Facebook
twitter  Follow Us on Twitter

329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808

Search Collections

Carmina Burana [1978]

Bookmark and Share
Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0427
Run Time
0h 56m 55s
Date Produced
Ruth Page choreographed two versions of Carmina Burana, both set to Carl Orff's original music. The first version was premiered in Chicago, at the Civic Opera House, on November 12, 1965. The performance was a joint endeavor between Page's Chicago Opera Ballet and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, including a children's chorus. It featured scenery by the House of Sormani, Milan and costumes by Casa D'Arte Cerrstelli from Florence (after the designs of Emmanuel Luzzati). The second version, with designs by André Delfau, was first performed in Kalamazoo, Michigan on January 9, 1967 by Ruth Page's International Ballet.

This video appears to represent a performance of Page's second version of Carmina Burana, performed specifically for the purpose of filming. It is performed and filmed non-chronologically, beginning with Act III (and repeating a large portion of it over again), and continuing with Act I, then Act II, and finally the opening segment. This may in fact be a video recording of the process of filming the 1978 production of Carmina Burana by Hollywood East, filmed by Richard J. Carter for WTTW-TV/Chicago, danced in Chicago by the Chicago Ballet. A copy of this film can be found in Series I of this collection (item F.2011-05-0159).
The video begins with a shot of a female dancer (as Amour) on a stage, beginning to perform the opening solo to Act III of Carmina Burana. As she completes it and kneels to the ground, a regally costumed woman enters and begins her own solo; Amour watches, and then presents herself to the woman. After the two dance together momentarily, Amour whispers briefly in the woman's ear, and scurries offstage, returning momentarily with a similarly dressed man for her. The two then begin an elegant pas de deux. Upon their exit, four more men and then four more women arrive onstage and dance simultaneously in two separate gender groups. Then, as they intersperse a lead couple arrives at center stage and leads them in a pas de deux. Once they all exit, the initial regal couple returns for a more classical, adagio pas de deux. During this section, the bodies of men filming the ballet (and their camera) are visible at the edge of the stage. Afterwards, the other couples return one at a time, with each dancer carrying a branch. Once all reach a standing pose, Cupid and Amour enter and (re-)present the primary couple for a final time. Then all begin circling off stage. Amour, who is last, seems magnetically pulled back on stage as a transition into the finale; the videocamera pulls back in time for this transition to start over, once again with the body of a man from a camera crew in full view. Amour soon runs off stage and the couples from The Court slowly reenter, circling around Death in single file. Next, the primary couple reenters and dances in a circle between Death and the others. Eventually, then kneel at his feet as the rest spin in place. As another man from the camera crew comes into view to "cut," all break character.

The video cuts to static for a few moments and then returns with the same shot of the stage, where a man once again stands in view before the stage. On the stage itself, Amour has just been drawn toward Death and exits, allowing the final section of the Act to be repeated. As the ensemble dance around Death unfolds, the man directly in front of the camera gestures to indicate directions. Just before the scene ends a second time, he rises and exits the frame. This same man then seems to be the one who walks onstage in front of the dancers to clap the clapperboard when the scene is complete.

The video then cuts to the beginning of Act I. Four female dancers enter the stage and begin an ensemble dance. They are soon joined by four young men with flowers who initiate pas de deux. As they exit, a single couple enters and takes center stage, holding their entrance poses for a long while (presumably for the film camera) before breaking character. The video cuts to static before returning to the beginning of the Act as the four women enter again. When it comes time for the single couple to enter, they wait onstage, relaxed, for a few moments before again striking their pose and beginning their dance. Next, five more couples enter and join them for an ensemble dance. As they complete it, a trickster figure (perhaps Death in disguise?) enters from the back and causes a commotion. The dancers take turns timidly approaching and circling him; eventually, all surround him and he is carried offstage. The six couples then return to their positions and perform another merry pas de deux (though a man's head is partially blocking the camera's view of them). This is followed by a flirtation sequence in which the men leave the women, who then eagerly anticipate the men's return; they gallop in as if on horseback only to leave again and tease the women. After they return again and all leave together, a peddler figure appears, followed by two young girls. After he treats them to a bird and a shawl, Cupid pops out of his sack and accidentally makes the girls fall in love with the peddler. Realizing his mistake, he beckons a slightly older young woman and shoots her with his arrow. As he and the young girls exit, the peddler and the young woman begin a series of slow, intense, and playful pas de deux. For the act's finale, the six other couples return to stage, joined by Cupid and one of the young girls at center, and perform one last pas de deux before all men but Cupid exit and he shoots the whole row of women with an (invisible) arrow.

The video then cuts to a shot of the stage while empty. Act II then begins with a man carrying a barstool onstage and dancing a solo. He is soon joined by other men, who carry on a table and additional stools, each doing unique choreography until all collapse in unison. At this moment, a woman enters, but before she can begin her dance, the initial stool dancer calls cut (his shoe appears to have slipped off) and walks offstage. The other dancers break character, and the video cuts to restart the segment. This time, the woman dances provocatively with the initial sotol dancer. As they run offstage, the camera pulls back to show the camera crew once again, and the "sleeping" men onstage "wake up" several times for the camera; the final time, another woman enters. All have their eye on her, slowly closing in and pawing her body as she is trapped among them. Overwhelming her, several carry her offstage just as two more women enter. The six men, now dancing as if inebriated, are enticed by these last two women into a clumsy ensemble dance, and split into two ravenous groups, one surrounding each woman. The group eventually comes together and the women sort of heard them. All dance an ensemble dance together before breaking up into groups again. The final pose has the two women atop the table with one of the men, and the rest reaching up at them before collapsing together.

The video once again cuts to a reperformance from an earlier point, just before the first female dancer is carried offstage. After they once again reach the final collapsed pose, the video cuts to a shot of Death along onstage, surrounded by the camera crew discussing something. Their camera appears to be in a close-up on the back of Death's (cloaked) head as he faces the back of the stage. The crew then slowly backs away and the introduction to the ballet begins: A number of figures enter the stage and circle the cloaked figure until he eventually shows his face (a skeleton mask). He engages with two of the figures (apparently a king and a prostitute), eventually forcing both dead to the ground. The video then cuts to more repeat choreography, restarting at the point where Death first engages with the king. This time, the video ends as soon as he forces the prostitute to the ground triumphantly.  
Additional Credits
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)