Lindsay Kemp as Elizabeth 1st and The Renaissance Dance of The Volta.

Highlights of “Elizabeth’s Last Dance” filmed in Tokyo in 2008.

In 2008 I was lucky enough to travel to Japan to film Lindsay Kemp’s production of “Elizabeth’s Last Dance.” Set at court, an Elizabeth in advanced years stands motionless with her finger in her mouth for 13 hours (a true event). Elizabeth remembers her past love affairs with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leceister, the Duc D’ Anjou (a frenchman) and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex and we see her perform The Volta, a spectacular Renaisance dance.

“The Elizabethans loved music, and Elizabeth was no exception. She was a skilled musician and played the virginals and the lute.  She enjoyed musical entertainments, encouraged musicians and composers, and was especially fond of dancing.  She would dance the difficult and demanding dance, The Galliard,  every morning to keep herself fit. She also loved to dance with her courtiers, and was fond of The Volta. In this dance, the ladies elegantly jumped high in the air, although not everyone believed it was elegant, as some people thought it was disgraceful as the women showed their knees. Robert Dudley also loved to dance, and he and Elizabeth danced as well together as they rode. A dance was even named after him,  “The Leicester Dance”. As she got older and could not dance as much as she used to, Elizabeth enjoyed watching her ladies dance. Elizabeth also liked to sing and reputedly sang well”.

Lindsay drew inspiration from the 1939 Bette Davis film, ” The private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”.

The Volta is also performed in the third episode of 1971’s Elizabeth R “Shadow in the Sun” between Queen Elizabeth (Glenda Jackson) and Robert Dudley (Robert Hardy). Please go to the 2:52 mark .

And a rare clip of Sarah Bernhardt, the famous silent films’ actress, playing Elizabeth in 1912.

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