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When Summoned [1973]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0428
Run Time
0h 22m 18s
Date Produced
"When Summoned" is a dancework choreographed by Bill Evans to Morton Subotnick's electronic musical composition Wild Bull. He choreographed it in 1969 for the Berlin Opera Ballet.

This video appears to represent a rehearsal of the piece (in practice clothes as costumes?) by members of the Chicago Ballet, recorded on March 7, 1973. 
The video begins with a shot of a rehearsal space, where a single dancer stands in wait on the sidelines/"in the wings." After the introductory bars of electronic music play, this (male) dancer enters the performance space and performs a series of reaches, leans, crawls, and runs. Then, with modified ballet steps, a female dancer reaches, leans, and falls toward, away from, and then past the male dancer.  Next, the two dance a sort of angular and abrupt pas de deux--they fall away from one another, creep toward each other, and engage in counter-balancing and lifts. The male dancer continually returns to a 'looking out' position, and the female dancer continually attempts to pull him back. 

After the female dancer jumps into the male's arms, two more male dancers appear and slowly march toward center; this is followed by a second female dancer running onstage and jumping into the arms of one of the newly arrived male dancers. Three more couples similarly assemble and the original couple leads them all in a cannon of shared choreography. Then, the couples begin performing differently: the original couple moves around a great deal while the rest remain in place, often posed. Soon, however, the female dancers separate out and perform an ensemble dance together; upon their exit, the male dancers do the same. Still, the original male dancer often separates from them and dances a solo.

Before long, the female dancers rejoin the rest and all perform an ensemble dance together. They reform into couples only to then exit (except for the original couple, who remains frozen in the downstage left corner). Three of the male dancers then begin an ensemble dance, but they are immediately rejoined by their female partners, each of whom jumps into her partner's arms. The couples exit again, leaving the primary couple to perform an intense, stacatto pas de deux alone. Eventually, they separate to different corners of the stage and a second male dancer enters, moving in unison with the other, and leaving the female dancer to perform a sort of tortured solo. She exits and reenters, followed by two more male dancers performing a separate dance in unison. A second female dancer enters and seems to replace the first. Then, additional women enter in couples as the first two men exit and a third man joins the second set. Soon, all five female dancers frenetically circle this trio at the center of the stage. After they exit, the trio continues its ensemble dance and they are rejoined by a female soloist. She falls to the ground as the music slows and they seem to exit.

The other female dancers run one by one across the stage as the soloist continues her slow, tortured movements. Before long, she is joined by a male soloist and a second female soloist moving in unison with her. A couple also enters, followed by another female soloist and another male soloist (as if repeating a pattern). Eventually, the female soloist is finally joined by a male partner (thus recreating the original couple?), but he is limp and difficult for her to work with. She drags him toward center and into embraces with her; a second couple enters in back and copies their interactions in unison. But the original male once again goes limp, so as the couple in the back continues their dance, the female in the front struggles with her partner.

After the back couple exits, the remaining female dancer manages to drag her partner back to center once again, where he attempts to stand and reach as he had at the beginning. But he simply collapses, and she stands over him. She then seems to take his place, adopting the same large and assured strides he had used at the opening. As she approaches the downstage corner, the piece ends: the dancers break character and a man in the audience rises to walk toward the dancers. The video ends there.   

Additional Credit
Evans, Bill (is choreographer)
Subotnick, Morton (music)