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

Prodigal Son [1976]

Bookmark and Share
Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0435
Run Time
0h 34m 2s
Date Produced
"Prodigal Son" is a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, to music by Sergei Prokofiev. It was premiered by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris, France on May 21, 1929.  It was re-premiered by the New York City Ballet on February 23, 1950.

This video represents a rehearsal of the ballet on October 24, 1976, but it is unclear where and by which company. 
The video begins with a shot of a stage, where the set consists of a tent far upstage and some kind of fence downstage. Two male dancers begin carrying jugs downstage from the tent entrance, after which a third male dancer (presumably The Prodigal) emerges as well. He is followed by two female dancers (his sisters). The Prodigal proceeds to dance an excited solo, indicating the adventure that lies in wait for the three brothers as they prepare to travel. Soon, however, the father emerges and interrupts this gleeful interlude, gathering his children into a tight family circle. The Prodigal breaks free before long, and eagerly begins his adventure with his two friends by walking through the front gate. His father and sisters retreat back into the tent. 

Next, a long line of male dancers as 'revelers' enter stage and perform a silly ensemble dance, moving the fence and flipping it over to serve as a table. They continue playing games and dancing until the Prodigal enters, at which point they assemble on stage right to recieve him. The reception is awkward at first, but soon all become friends and perform the silly dances together. After awhile the Siren enters, wearing a long cape. She performs a long solo to entice all of the men watching her; after she completes the solo in a crouch at center, enveloped in her cape, the Prodigal approaches and rips it from her, infatuated. She then dances a second solo, though she is soon joined by the Prodigal and the two dance together as the revelers close in on them. The group lifts the Siren high above them and then place her on the table, where she is joined by the Prodigal. The revelers then dance another playful ensemble dance, including breakouts by one or two individuals at a time, while the couple looks on.

Afterwards, the Prodigal and the Siren dance a rather erotic pas de deux together, which ends with the Siren on the table and the Prodigal being thrown around by the revelers. Soon, each of the two is lifted up by a group of the men and their bodies are brought together. Then, the Siren backs away and the revelers one again throw around the Prodigal's body among them. He tries to gain control by running onto the table, but it is upended and he slides off. He is then captured and held against the table, where the revelers rob him in waves as the Siren looks on. As the final wave of revelers dance away in back-to-back duos, the Siren approaches the now withered Prodigal to pluck the last necklace from his chest--she then leaves him there and exits. Left alone to perish, the Prodigal falls to the ground, pulls himself back up again, and staggers around the stage. He falls down again and eventually drags himself offstage. The video goes black.

When the video returns, the revelers return as well, waving about their plunder from the Prodigal Son. They bring the table back down and turn it into a ship; as they lean back and forth on both sides of it, the Siren returns as well. She beckons them to load up the ship with their plunder, and stands with arched back as the figurehead of their ship. They row away (but do not actually move) and exit triumphantly.

A few moments later, the Prodigal enters, dragging himself toward home using a large staff. After a struggle to make it to the family tent, he collapses at the gate. His sisters seem to hear him and run out of the tent one at a time. They discover him there and slowly help him back toward the tent, where he collapses and cowers on the ground as his father emerges. Ashamed, the Prodigal turns away from his father and collapses again on the gate, but his father opens his arms in forgiveness so he crawls back. Once the Prodigal reaches up to his father, he is pulled up into an embrace. The video goes black and ends there. 
Additional Credit
Balanchine, George (is choreographer)
Prokofiev, Sergei (is composer)