Tesseracts of Time: A Dance for Architecture
In collaboration with Jessica Lang Dance
Commissioned by the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Premiering at the Harris Theater in Chicago on November 6, 2015
Both Architecture and dance share a passion for space and light in time, however they are on opposite ends of the spectrum with respect to time. Architecture is one of the arts of longest duration, while the realization of a dance piece can be a quick process and the work disappears as the performance of it unfolds. Here the two merge. Corresponding to the four seasons, but within a twenty minute period, the
collaboration between choreographer Jessica Lang and architect Steven Holl merges dance and architecture in a compression of time and space.
The four sections of the dance correspond to the four types of architecture: (1.) Under the ground (2.) In the ground (3.) On the ground (4.) Over the ground.
The first section ‘UNDER’ begins with a slow movement of sunlight coming from above, sweeping across the curved interior spaces of the architecture. The dance physically vibrates in the dark shadows of the stage. Dancers are dressed in black geometric and angular costumes. Their movement is grounded and driven with linear thought to the percussive score Anvil Chorus by David Lang.
For the second section ‘IN’, compressed spatial sequences filled in deep light are projected in film. The dance movement defies gravity and explores geometry with emotional expression. Space and body in black and white work in synchrony with the minimalist piano music Patterns in a Chromatic Field by Morton Feldman.
The third section ‘ON’ -all in white- reveals on stage three twelve-foot-tall Tesseract Fragments. In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional analog of a cube. In dance, the movement explores space now present in the 3rd dimension of the stage. The music is percussive, prepared piano The
Perilous Night by John Cage.
The fourth section ‘OVER’, begins with the tension of sound and energy as the Tesseracts rise upwards to the music Metastaseis by Iannis Xenakis.
Unlike the previous sections, bursting color floods the stage with dancers in asymmetrical colors of oranges and reds. Arvo Pärt’s Solfeggio takes shape in a synthesis of chromatic forms as the dance releases like a sunrise into intensely lyrical and hypnotic meditative phrases.
Like Seasons, the ending returns to the darkness of ‘UNDER’ at the beginning. No beginning No ending.
The whole piece takes a year—four seasons—but is compressed into twenty minutes. As there are 525,600 minutes in one year, this compression ratio would render an average human life as four years.
- The project ‘Explorations of IN’ started on June 2014 at Steven Holl Architects and explores questions of architectural language. It aims to explore what is possible, to re-value the Art of Architecture. It aims at quality before quantity and inner special energy, shaping public space and social openness.
- The music for this dance was chosen for its architectonic qualities and has been studied at Columbia University’s GSAPP program in the advanced design studio titled The Architectonics of Music, taught by Steven Holl and Dimitra Tsachrelia.
3.￼The composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) was a key figure in twentieth-century music and architecture, working as an architect in the Paris studio of Le Corbusier from 1947 to 1959. After his collaboration with Le Corbusier, Xenakis continued as a composer and architect, with a lifelong ambition to overlap the two disciplines.
- Morton Feldman (1927-1987) was an experimental composer whose music is extremely
￼abstract. Concerning his 1981 composition Patterns in a Chromatic Field, Feldman wrote: I feel I listen to my sounds, and I do what they tell me, not what I tell them, because I
￼owe my life to these sounds.
For Tesseracts of Time: A Dance for Architecture, sections from Feldman’s work were selected from the ninety-minute composition according to their subdued coloration and rhythmic activity.
Tesseracts of Time
Concept: Steven Holl in collaboration with Jessica Lang
Directed and Choreographed by: Jessica Lang
Architectural Design Direction: Dimitra Tsachrelia
Music: David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Arvo Pärt Lighting Design: Nicole Pearce
Costume Design: Bradon McDonald
Filming and editing: Ruoyu Wei
Film Consultant: Milan Misko
Stage set Construction: Paper Mâché Monkey
‘Explorations of IN’ project team: Ruoyu Wei, Yuliya Savelyeva
Clifton Brown, Randy Castillo, Julie Fiorenza, John Harnage, Eve Jacobs, Kana Kimura, Laura Mead, Milan Misko, Jammie Walker
Tesseracts of Time is co-commissioned by the Chicago Architectural Biennial, John and Caroline Balantine, Sandra and Jack Guthman, Michael and Sharon Tiknis through the Imagine campaign, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Society for the Performing Arts, and The Joyce Theater Foundation. This project was made possible with support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Charles & Deborah Adelman and the Dau Family Foundation.
The dance was created during the New York City Center fellowship residency, The Pocantico Center residency and at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center.
Special thank you to Sarah Herda, Michael Tiknis, Jay Franke and Margaret Selby