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Romeo and Juliet [1972, Chicago, Hyde Park High School] - Romeo and Juliet [1973]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0431
Run Time
0h 34m 0s
Date Produced
1972 - 1973
Ruth Page's version of "Romeo and Juliet" is set to Tchaikovsky's original score for it, with designs by André Delfau.  It was premiered in Niles, Michigan in January of 1969.

This video features two rehearsals of a condensed and pared down version of the ballet, the first filmed in full costume on November 30, 1972 at Hyde Park High School, and the second filmed in practice clothes (and Juliet in flat shoes rather than pointe shoes) on March 7, 1973 in another location.
The video begins with static before opening onto a shot of an empty stage, where 6 dancers appear and stand (as soldiers?) while introductory music plays. Someone in the audience appears to be cueing them, as a silhouette is seen on the left side of the screen, with arm motions matching when they slowly come forward, split and exit.

When the curtain opens, these soldiers reenter one at a time, swarm, and line the stage. A male dancer in a cloak (Romeo?) enters and dances a brief solo before being joined by a second man (Mercutio?) who, masked, appears to hand Romeo a mask as well. The two then exit together. Afterwards, the soldiers (guards?) all kneel, and Juliet appears in a long dress and dances a solo. She is eventually interrupted and greeted by another man (Tybalt?), who kisses her hand and begins to dance a pas de deux with her as the guards move to the back of the stage. As they dance, the masked Romeo and Mercutio snake their way in. Romeo, of course, is immediately taken by Juliet--and Juliet soon notices him as well. She stops to greet him mid-dance, and the two shed their cloaks to begin a pas de deux together.

They are interrupted by a suspicious Tybalt, who rips Romeo's mask from his face, exposing him, and immediately initiates a fight. The guards mirror the fight in the background, and Mercutio joins in as Juliet watches--she soon intervenes, dancing through the middle in an attempt to calm both parties down. The attempt largely fails, however--Tybalt escorts Juliet away and an angry Romeo exits, but Tybalt returns to a still-present Mercutio. The two begin to duel, again accentuated by the guards mirroring the fight behind them. Apparently reaching a stalemate, the two separate, Mercutio bows mockingly, and all exit.

Two of the guards then enter carrying Juliet (and apparently serving as her "balcony"). Romeo appears as she declares her love for him. The guards then leave her to dance a lovesick solo alone onstage, while Romeo stands in the back, unseen and awestruck. Next, he appears in front of her and the two embrace passionately before dancing a pas de deux together. As they complete the dance and Romeo kneels at Juliet's feet, the guards-as-balcony return to take her away; he follows and kisses her hand goodbye. 

Romeo is immediately joined by Mercutio, who joins him in a brotherly dance while anticipating the arrival of Tybalt and other Capulets. Mercutio then shoos Romeo away to protect him, facing Tybalt by himself. The 6 guards once again appear to egg on the fight, and Romeo returns just in time to see Tybalt fatally stab Mercutio. As three of the guards drag him away, an enraged Romeo stabs Tybalt to death in revenge. He, too, is then dragged away as Romeo exits. 

Juliet enters and dances another solo, after which she is joined by her Romeo. The lovers once again embrace and dance a passionate pas de deux, which ends only when Romeo is forced to tear himself away. Juliet continues dancing solo until a hand offers her a potion, which she drinks, and collapses into the arms of twp approaching guards. They lift her high above their heads and place her in the care of the other four guards, who are kneeling in the back.

Romeo then arrives and, thinking Juliet dead, drinks a potion of his own and collapses on the ground near her. Juliet then awakes and discovers Romeo, who rises to embrace her one last time. Soon, however, he falters and begins to collapse from the poison he has ingested. After watching her Romeo die, Juliet grasps his dagger and kills herself, falling onto his corpse. 

The video then cuts to static before cutting again to the opening of the ballet, this time with the soldiers standing in practice clothes in a different setting--this time, there are only four soldiers. Also, the rehearsal is incomplete; the video cuts to static and then ends just after Mercutio and Tybalt begin the duel that leads to both of their deaths. 

Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Baker, Anna (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)