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Nutcracker (Act II) [1974]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0480
Run Time
0h 33m 47s
Date Produced
Ruth Page's version of the popular ballet "The Nutcracker" was premiered at McCormick Place's Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, on December 26, 1965. After this, it was presented at the Chicago Civic Opera House in 1967 & 1968; it was then presented at McCormick every holiday season from 1971 through 1997. The ballet uses Tchaikovsky's original score for the story by E.T.A. Hoffman; it was produced by Edward G. Lee, with costumes by Rolf Gérard and scenery by Sam Leve.

This video represents an in-studio practice clothes rehearsal of Act II from the ballet, recorded in 1974. It is dark and shot from rather far away, so events are sometimes hard to make out.
The video opens with a shot of a studio stage, where various dancers stand on the sides, 'waiting in the wings' while Act II introductory music plays. Soon, dancers (performing as angels) stream in from the upstage corners and begin an ensemble dance. Once they complete it and exit, the Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier enters and dances a brief introductory solo to inaugurate a pas de deux; Sugar Plum herself then comes forward from the shadows of the back curtain for her own introduction before joining him in the pas de deux.  As they wrap it up, the angels reenter and line the stage. Two dancers (as butterflies?) then flit across the stage before Clara and her Nutcracker enter in the back. Then a series of female dancers (as pages?) enters in front of the angels, and they dance their greetings two by two before entering into an ensemble dance. 

All then invite the Nutcracker to tell the story of his battle with the mice, which he does through mime.  Clara joins him to add her shoe-throwing and relive their victory through a very brief pas de deux while the pages celebrate on the sidelines; Sugar Plum and Calavier then congratulate them and welcome them to the Kingdom of Sweets. The pages courtsey to the guests in groups as they exit; the angels also courtsey and move to the back. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier invite the first performer (a male dancer representing Spanish Chocolate) onstage and exit. 

The video then cuts to a moment of static before cutting to an even longer shot as the Spanish Chocolate variation begins with the entrance of eight additional dancers to accompany the male soloist. When all strike their final pose and exit, the video cuts to the next variation: four Arabian attendants come forward and welcome the couple representing Arabian coffee, after which they kneel and the couple begins a sensual pas de deux. After the couple and their attendants complete their dance in a final pose, the video cuts to the next variation: Chinese Tea. This variation begins with the entrance of a male dancer, scurrying onstage followed by two female attendants. The three then begin a pas de trois, which quickly becomes a solo from the male dancer supported by secondary dancing from his companions. Once the three strike their final pose, they bow and begin to exit; while they do so, a couple men in the audience stand and walk across the camera's view. The video then cuts to the next variation: Russian Tea Cakes, represented by five male dancers and two female dancers. Once all strike their final pose, the video cuts once again, to the Marzipan/wooden flute dance performed by a group of five women. In the middle of their ensemble dance, a timing error seems to occur in the choreography so the video cuts and the segment is rehearsed again. When they complete the variation, the video cuts to the Mother Ginger/"Polichinelle" variation, but sans Mother Ginger. The children from beneath her skirt perform their ensemble dance and eventually exit. 

Next, the video cuts to a false entrance by several dancers from Waltz of the Flowers; it cuts again for a second attempt. After the first six enter, four more follow them. As they line the back of the stage, they are joined by the Rose (or Dewdrop) soloists and four more dancers circling her. The Rose then leads the flowers in their waltz, eventually standing aside and allowing the two "lead flowers" (?) to join the group. After various recombinations of these lead dancers and the entrance of several more, including a solo by the Rose and an exit and reentrance on the part of the flowers, the waltz of the flowers finally ends and all strike a final pose. 

The video then skips past the grand pas de deux by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier to the flowers' reentrance for the ballet's grand finale. After their ensemble dance and a solo by the Rose, three Russian men enter, followed by the Spanish chocolate soloist. Next are the two Arabians with their four attendants, followed by the Chinese trio, followed by Mother Ginger's eight children (in couples). Finally, Sugar Plum and her Cavalier perform their own short solos to rejoin everyone, after which the flowers return as well. Then, all come together for the finale and dance as an ensemble behind Sugar Plum and Cavalier. To finish, all dance a grand reverence to Clara and Nutcracker, with Sugar Plum and Cavalier posing at upstage center. All then begin to break character and the video ends. 
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Ilyich (is composer)