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Mandala - Three Preludes [1974?]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0464
Run Time
0h 23m 4s
Date Produced
"Mandala" is a ballet set to experimental music, apparently choreographed for a group of six male dancers. Composer and choreographer are currently unknown.

"Three Preludes" is a ballet choreographed by Ben Stevenson to piano preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It was premiered in 1969 by the Harkness Youth Dancers in Dallas, Texas. When Stevenson became artistic director of the Chicago Ballet in 1974, he set the piece on his new company. 

This video represents studio rehearsals of these ballets, in practice clothes, likely in 1974.
The video begins with a shot of a dance studio, where three men stand facing the back wall. They begin to dance as an ensemble, undertaking floorwork as part of the choreography. Before long, three more men enter and join them. Each works with a partner until all come together again for an ensemble dance. The choreography continues to oscillate between partnerwork, floorwork, and ensemble dancing. The experimental music it is set to becomes audible around the 3:45 mark. After awhile, all but two of the men exit and the remaining two dance side by side before breaking into partner work. Then, one exits and leaves the other onstage as a soloist. Before long, he seats himself at center and another man reenters to dance around him. Eventually, the man at center rises and both exit.

Next, the other four men reenter and dance two at a time (while the other two sit still). The two men from before then roll back onstage and the six re-form their partners setup, punctuated by occasional phrases of ensemble movements. Then, they each break away from the group, one at a time, and run circles around the stage. All but two exit (also one at a time), and the two who remain stand still for a moment, until one exits and the other begins moving at center. Before he completes his movement, the video cuts to black/static, and remains that way for 10-15 seconds.

The video then cuts to a closer shot of the same studio, with a portable barre positioned in the center of the frame. A couple stands on opposite ends of the barre, but not long after the music begins, they move toward each other and begin a barre-based pas de deux (at various points, the female dancer stands, sits, and slides on the barre). They end this first prelude standing apart again. The video cuts to black/static again.

It returns to the studio for the second prelude, where a couple now stands at center, away from the barre. The camera is further away this time, so the image of the couple is a bit fuzzy. They begin to dance a pas de deux, which, after travelling around the stage a fair amount, seems to end again at center. The video cuts to black/static.

The third prelude begins with an empty performance space. The couple enters with the music and dances the most energetic of the three pas de deux. It ends with a spinning lift; the male dancer places the female dancer back on the ground with the last notes. The video ends there.
Additional Credit
Rachmaninoff, Sergei (is composer)
Stevenson, Ben (is choreographer)