Chicago | A Dance for Architecture – Holl + Lang

Place: Chicago, Country: United States
Architecture: Steven Holl Architects
Dance: Jessica Lang Dance
Commissioned by the Harris Theater and the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Text by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit
All images courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial

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A Dance for Architecture – Tesseracts of Time by Steven Holl + Jessica Lang
by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit

It may sound strange that the most static and the most dynamic of all art disciplines, architecture and dance, has so often reciprocally attracted one another. From the intimate relationship between the Greek theaters and the “horos”, to the cross-breeding of the two arts experimented by Oskar Schlemmer at the Bauhaus, the dialogue between architecture and dance has always fascinated artists and avant-garde movements.

Since June 2014, Steven Holl Architects are conducting an experimental project, entitled Explorations of “IN”, aimed to explore novel forms of architectural language, as well as to test interactions with other disciplines, like mathematics, information technology, visual arts, and dance.

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Recently, the American choreographer Jessica Lang joined Steven Holl to develop the project Tesseracts of Time – A Dance for Architecture, premiering on November 6, 2015 at the Harris Theater, in the framework of the Chicago Architecture Biennial – CAB.
The term “tesseract” comes from mathematics and represents the equivalent of a cube in a four-dimensional space.

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Two watercolor sketches of the stage design by Steven Holl Architects

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Steven Holl and Jessica Lang in a meeting on September 2015

The project merges dance and architecture by adopting a complex array of references, involving the concept of time, the relationship between space and light, and the basic forms of architecture.

The 20-minute-long dance performance is divided into four sections, entitled “UNDER the ground”, “IN the ground”. “ON the ground” and “OVER the ground”, which relate both to the basic types of architecture and to the four seasons.

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Conceptual sketch of the four phases 

Each performance dialogues with the stage architecture and geometry, inspired by the tesseract concept, which in turn changes and adapts itself to the progress of the dance performance, progressively rising up and revealing new aspects of its geometric constituents in accordance with the performance unfolding. The nine dancers’ costumes are also conceived as part of the experience, changing from black and white, to pure white, to colors.

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Tesseracts of Time, a watercolour by Steven Holl Architects

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Set mockups, photos © Steven Holl Architects

Each part is coupled with specific musical compositions: Anvil Chorus by David Lang, Patterns in a Chromatic Field by Morton Feldman, The Perilous Night by John Cage, Metastaseis by Iannis Xenakis , and Solfeggio by Arvo Pärt.

Tesseracts of Time
Harris Theater for Music and Dance
205 E. Randolph street – Chicago
World premiere – November 9, 2015

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Set mockups, photos © Steven Holl Architects


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