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Scat [1972, Chicago]

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Video Identifier: V.2011-05-0466
Run Time
0h 24m 50s
Color
B&W
Sound
Mono
Date Produced
1972
Abstract
"Scat" is a dancework choreographed by Lois Bewley for the Chicago Ballet. It is set to music by Spike Jones (including "Cocktails for Two," "Laura," and "None but the Lonely Heart"), Lionel Hampton ("Flying Home"), and Jelly Roll Morton ("King Porter Stomp"), and is specifically choreographed for performance 'in-the-round.' It was premiered in early 1977 at the Drury Lane Theater in Chicago's Water Tower Place.

This video represents a rehearsal of the piece, though the date of "November 1972" written on the container may be in error, given the work's premiere date. 
Description
The video begins with a shot of a rehearsal space, which a group of dancers enters via a 'conga line.' The group then organizes itself into rows an appears to perform a simple tap number. Next, they separate into couples and perform a modified Lindy Hop. After awhile, the music slows down somewhat and most couples transition into slowdancing--just one couple is more active in dancing around the stage. Before long, the music transitions to Spike Jones, with silly sound effects. The couple brings all the surrounding couples to the ground, and they react as an ensemble to the sound effects while the main couple continues its increasingly silly dance. Finally, even the main couple falls to the ground.

As the group transitions to the next segment, one dancer mounts another's shoulders, the two partner with a standing dancer, and the rest crawl around them and through the carrier's legs. Then the mounted dancer dives backward into the crowd and then walks out separately, seemingly distressed. As she continues to walk slowly across the stage, the rest jump up and begin an energetic, silly dance. They soon break into couples again and then return to the ground so all can repeat the introductory choreography.

As they transition to the next song, the dancers all rise and exit--except for one couple, who then performs a silly pas de deux. Eventually, these two lie down on the ground and are replaced by a male soloist, who is himself then joined by two female dancers. After these three perform for a few moments, there is a transition to three couples dancing together--once again, a sort of modified Lindy Hop. The rest, who had been sitting on the sidelines, soon join in. Next, they circle the stage moving backwards and once again break up, with some of the dancers sitting in a circle around those at center, who dance as a fairly balletic ensemble. The two groups trade places, and once again disperse into couples, whittling themselves down to just one couple. Afterwards, the whole group once again returns to continue dancing. This pattern of reverse circles, energetic group dances, and single couple dances (with occasional solos) continues. Finally, all move through their final circle to transition into bows, at first by couples and soloists, and then as a whole group circling. Once all have exited, the video cuts to static momentarily. 

After the static, the video cuts to what appears to be a re-rehearsal of the "None but the Lonely Heart" segment: a few of the dancers rise from the ground, where all are lying down. Once again, one dancer mounts another's shoulders, the two partner with a standing dancer, and the rest crawl around them and through the carrier's legs. Then the mounted dancer dives backward into the crowd and walks out separately, once again distressed. As she continues to walk slowly across the stage, the rest jump up and begin their energetic, silly dance, soon breaking into couples again. Finally, they fall again to the ground as the woman is remounted and eventually dismounted. This time, she waves goodbye to the group on the ground as she sadly begins to walk away. The video ends there.
Additional Credit
Bewley, Lois (is choreographer)
Jones, Spike (music)
Hampton, Lionel (music)
Morton, Jelly Roll (is composer)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Begley, Gregory (is performer)
Genre
Dance
Subject
Dance
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)