Date Of Production
"Holberg Variations" is a ballet choreographed by Ramon Segarra, set to the five-movement Holberg Suite (or From Holberg's Time), written by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg in 1884. It is unclear when it was choroegraphed.
This video appears to be a practice clothes rehearsal of "Holberg Variations" by the Chicago Ballet, recorded in May of 1977.
The video begins with a shot of an empty stage, where, after a male voice offscreen says "Okay," the first movement of the music begins and two rows of three couples each run onstage in diagonal lines. Two more couples enter from the side and a final central couple (including the only female dancer wearing a tutu) enters from the back and stops at center. This central couple leads the group with a pas de deux while the other couples perform a similar dance; all then join together for a couples' dance in unison and breaking into a sort of call-and-response sequence. These two modes of dancing continue in a pattern together for several more bars before individuals near the front break away into bourrées and all rearrange themselves into three rows on stage left and begin dancing back and forth across the stage as an ensemble.
The group then returns to its original formation and the downstage three couples dance together while the rest stand posed. They then join in briefly throughout the front couples' dance. After all strike a final pose, this pattern continues into the second movement's adagio. Eventually, the six couples in the back exit and leave the front three couples to continue their ensemble partnering dance. After awhile, the two flanking couples also exit and the central couple dances a very brief pas de deux to complete the second movement.
Once the central couple exits, all of the piece's female dancers enter, joined by the male dancers from the two downstage flanking couples. The women perform an ensemble dance which is accented by the men's choreography. Soon, the downstage couples rejoin one another and the male counterparts to the other six women enter from the back to rejoin their partners as well. All perform a brief couples' dance in unison, though the downstage couples once again occasionally break away and weave through the others. The group briefly separates by gender a few times but returns to its couples formation soon afterwards. All exit only when the movement ends.
The fourth movement consists of another pas de deux by the central couple--this time a long, willowy one. Once the couple completes the pas de deux, they break character and simply walk offstage. This is followed by a lively ensemble dance by the eight men of the piece's corps. Eventually, the two from the downstage flanking couples break away for a separate duet of sorts (while the rest kneel, posed).
The fifth and final movement opens with a solo by the male lead from the central couple. This is dollowed by a solo from the female lead. Then the other eight women enter for the finale and line the two sides of the stage; they are soon joined by their male partners. All arrange themselves in the original formation and the central female dancer leads them all into the finale. She is soon joined in her dance by the flanking couples. The piece seems to end abruptly and all break character--it becomes clear that the central male partner had been missing.
The video then cuts to bows after the final segment, this time with the central male dancer present. A single viewer in the front row of the audience claps, and all exit. The downstage flanking couples return for personal bows, followed by the central couple. All then return to the stage for a final group bow before breaking character and milling about. The video ends there.
Language Of Materials
Has Been Digitized?
Open Reel ➜ 1/2" EIAJ
Participants And Performers