Date Of Production
"Camille" is a ballet choreographed by Ruth Page in 1958, based on Verdi's 1853 opera La Traviata, itself based on the play La Dame aux Camélias (1852). Page choreographed the ballet specifically for Marjorie Tallchief, who had been engaged as a soloist for the third tour of Ruth Page's Chicago Opera Ballet that year. Camille premiered on January 13, 1959 in Columbia, Missouri using Verdi's original music, arranged by Isaac Van Grove.
The version recorded in this film is a special performance from the 1960s CBS television series Repertoire Workshop. It was recorded on March 25, 1965 and performed by the Ruth Page Ballet. Patricia Klekovic dances the role of Camille, Kenneth Johnson is Armand, Orrin Kayan is the father, Larry Long and Jeanne Armin are farmers, Vicki Fisera is Olympe, John Landowski is Baron Douphol, and Esther Adelman is the bride.
The film opens with a shot of the clapperboard for the present episode (6-65) of Repertoire Workshop by WBBM Chicago. This is followed by a blank screen and countdown beeps before a cut to the title frame: "REPERTOIRE WORKSHOP FROM CHICAGO." The set is then illumated for an ensemble of women dancing at what appears to be a party, over which credits begin: "Presents THE RUTH PAGE BALLET," followed by "CAMILLE." At this point, the ensemble disperses and Camille, a courtesan, enters.
Camille dances a solo while the other party guests watch her with interest. At one point during the dance, she appears dizzy--this concerns those watching but she shakes it off and completes her solo. Afterwards, everyone breaks into couples for a waltz and Camille is immediately charmed by Armand. She soon falls dizzy again, however, and is escorted to a sofa to rest. The camera zooms in for a close-up of her feeling ill.
Left alone, Camille eventually stands up and tries to convince herself that she feels fine glimpsing herself in the mirror with concern. Armand Duval then enters and, enamoured, distracts her by initiating a pas de deux. A bit hesitant to return Armand's love just yet, but certainly interested in him, Camille ends their dance by giving him a flower; the camera zooms in to their final embrace.
The film then cuts to the next scene, set at a farm in the countryside. A pair of farmers dance an abridged grand pas de deux. When they complete it, the camera frame reveals Camille and Armand among their audience. They are encouraged to dance next, but Camille declines (probably due to her health). Instead, a quartet of dancers (three men led by a woman) dance their own ensemble dance, encouraging bystanders to join them. Soon, a long line forms but it is immediately headed off by an imposing figure: Armand's father.
The father greets his son and, upon being introduced to Camille, insists that the two break up. As such, he escorts her over to a bench away from Armand and points toward the intended future (represented as an overlay) nearby: Armand's sister, as a bride, is refused by her intended groom because of Camille's relationship with Armand, who is then forced to choose between Camille and his sister. As the overlay fades, Camille becomes distraught and begins a melancholy solo, realizing that she must let Armand go. His father comforts her and she pleads with him to let it be otherwise, but to no avail.
When the father exits, Camille rips off her large skirt to reveal a skimpier one and soon collapses on another bench. Just then, a large group of entertainers (meant to be gypsies and matadors) rushes onstage and dances as an ensemble, eventually convincing Camille to get up and dance at the center of their circle. Several men flirt with her and she flirts back, dancing a rather wild pas de deux with one of them (presumably Baron Douphol). Armand then enters stage and becomes very angry with this behavior, insisting on taking Camille home with him. She refuses and he throws money at her feet in exasperation before exiting.
The following scene is bare of sets and begins in triplicate before fading into a single shot: it is Armand, in a spotlight, dancing a tormented solo. Eventually, a dream version of Camille appears and he dances a pas de deux with her. She leaves as suddenly as she came, and via blurring, again indicating that she was only a dream.
The film then cuts to the next scene, in which Camille receives a letter from Armand's father. The camera focuses on it, and it states that Monsieur Duval informed Armand of her great sacrifice and has sent him to beg her pardon. The camera pulls back to reveal that Camille received this letter in bed; though ailing, she rises and dances an emotional solo in response--she fears it may be too late. As she settles back into her bed, she has a vision (again achieved through superimposition) of Armand with a bride (either his sister or a new love of his own), surrounded by grotesque dancing figures. He reaches for Camille and she reaches back, but his father intervenes and keeps them apart. As this nightmarish vision fades, Camille collapses on the ground.
Armand then enters Camille's room and finds her, collapsed. He revives her and the two embrace lovingly. She then has a sudden burst of energy and leaps into his arms, only to collapse, dead, while he holds her. Armand lays her on her bed and mourns her death. Against this backdrop, final credits run. (See below.)
29 min 32 sec
Has Been Digitized?
Language Of Materials
Participants And Performers