HMS produces revival of Ruth Page’s 1946
“Billy Sunday” ballet as Ch. 11 dance special

The groundbreaking ballet, “Billy Sunday,” created by Chicago icon choreographer Ruth Page, is the newest dance television production from HMS Media.

Debuting Sept. 16 on Ch. 11, the hourlong special documents the rehearsal and performance of how the 60-year old, dormant ballet was revived and reinterpreted for contemporary audiences.

“Billy Sunday” was Ruth Page’s choreographic adaptation of some of the sermons of the baseball player turned evangelist (1862-1935) noted for his flamboyant pulpit rhetoric. The work originally premiered in 1946.

Because Page was dissatisfied with the original music score, the ballet went unseen until 1983, when The Cincinnati Ballet presented it with new music and arrangements. After that, the ballet again went unseen for decades, largely due to its specific casting demands, sets and costumes.

Venetia Stifler, head of the Ruth Page Foundation and artistic director of Concert Dance Inc., for years wanted to present “Billy Sunday” to as a television special and hired HMS Media to create and produce the show.

Des Plaines-based HMS is a nine-time Emmy winning video company that specializes in dance and performing arts programs.