"Song of India," or, more accurately "Song of the Indian Guest," is a brief composition by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov from his opera Sadko. The opera was turned into a ballet several times in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably by Diaghilev for the Ballets Russes in 1911 and, later, by Adolph Bolm in 1916.
This video appears to represent several practice clothes studio rehearsals of two different pas de deux set to the brief "Song of India" segment, date and choreographer unknown, as well as a similar rehearsal of another (unknown) piece.
The video begins with a bit of static and several quick shots of dancers kneeling and standing in a dance studio. It then cuts to a shot of a male dancer and a female dancer standing in the center of the studio in second position, with their hands on their hips. They begin to plié together and then launch into a pas de deux. The couple's hands and feet are often flexed, presumably meant as a nod to "India." The pas de deux is brief--the couple seems to strike their pose about two mintues into the video. After they break character, a female voice begins to comment on their rehearsal; the video cuts to static.
The video then cuts to a different couple performing different, seemingly more erotic, choreography to the same music. Before the couple has completed their pas de deux, the video cuts again.
This time, a male dancer stands at the center of the rehearsal space, and he is flanked by two couples posed awkwardly toward the back. A female voice (Ruth Page's?) is heard. The "Song of India" music begins once again, and the two couples begin to move toward the center as the male soloist moves slowly backward, performing different choreography. The two couples pull at both sides of the soloist and then perform mirrored, geometric dances on the sides while he remains seated on the ground. He then rises and begins interacting witth the two couples, especially the female dancers--such that they all form a sort of pas de cinq. Before long, all strike an almost star-shaped final pose. After all break character, the video cuts to static again.
When the video returns, it offers a shot of the same dance studio and dancers but they rehearse to a different song. This time, the dancers are arranged in two groups--a group of two and a group of four. Three of the four perform a particularly silly dance; the fourth (a male dancer) seems to pick a fight with the group of two (both female dancers) before joining them for a pas de trois. The fighting then seems to continue and expand to the other dancers but all then join together for an emphatic ensemble dance. It ends with all of the dancers crouching or lying in a ball on the floor. Then a female voice (Ruth Page's?) is heard saying "You still did that quite wrong," suggesting that this is definitely not the first time the dance has been rehearsed that day. She (or someone) then approaches the dancers from the audience.
Next, the video cuts to a second rehearsal of the "Song of India" pas de deux by the second couple from earlier in the video--they rehearse the same semi-erotic choreography. After they complete the dance, wrapped around each other in a final pose, Page's voice is heard again: "That's much better than the other film--it was much better...yeah, that was alright." The female dancer asks, "Can we see it?," to which Page responds, "Sure," and the dancers approach the camera. The video ends there.
Language Of Materials
Has Been Digitized?
Open Reel ➜ 1/2" EIAJ