For Four Walls (creation)

Choreography : Petter Jacobsson et Thomas Caley
Music : John Cage
Part of the Merce Cunningham Centennial.

Premiere on May 23, 2019 at the Opéra national de Lorraine.

Choreography: Petter Jacobsson et Thomas Caley
Music: John Cage (Four Walls, 1st Act)
Pianist: Vanessa Wagner
Sets: Petter Jacobsson et Thomas Caley
Costumes: Petter Jacobsson, Thomas Caley, Martine Augsbourger and Annabelle Saintier
Lighting: Eric Wurtz
Coproduction : Chaillot - Théâtre national de la Danse


Thursday May 23 2019 at 8:00 PM
Friday May 24 2019 at 8:00 PM
Sunday May 26 2019 at 3:00 PM

At the Opéra national de Lorraine
Ticket price A

Part of the Merce Cunningham Centennial.

«For the centennial of Merce Cunningham we have proposed For Four Walls, with the original score performed live by pianist Vanessa Wagner. The premier will be held on the 23rd of May at the National Opera of Lorraine, Nancy.

The original dance play, Four Walls was a creation that incorporated text and choreography by Merce Cunningham with a score for solo piano by John Cage. After its premier, and only performance in 1944, the piece was lost and forgotten, although in the late 1970’s the pianist Richard Bunger rediscovered the score among Cage’s manuscripts. According to Cage his piano score, with a singular voice, acknowledged a link or prefigured the music of Philip Glass and Steve Reich - “It’s full of passages that get repeated, and it’s all white notes; it’s in C and it goes on and on”. The structure is of contrasting settings, loud and soft, high and low, etc, which has a psychological intensity quite unusual for Cage. He himself upon hearing the discovered score found it rather interesting – a genuine curiosity, and seemed surprised that he was its composer! Still within the beginnings of their collaborative work, the music and what little is known of the dance and staging precedes what we identify as a Cage/Cunningham work. What we are met with is their youth, full of introspective and conflicting emotions.

This new reading of the original is interested in this notion of the pre “Cage/Cunningham”, while understanding it exists in the post their legacy.

For Four Walls is a wanderlust through room, the individual, and the history we share. The “room” is a mirrored space that allows for a situation to be seen as having and not having its confining walls. Defining infinity, passing through it, or as a reflective space - a somewhere to remember that we belong to these interconnected spaces and their temporalities. We see it as a non-place, perpetually vulnerable and in motion. Where distances are relativized and human differences are always in flux. We see For Four Walls not as a re-enactment of the lost original, but as a situation that will allow for its own history and our history with Merce to be reflected in.»

©Emilie Salquèbre

Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley

A creative team

Born in Stockholm, Petter Jacobsson started his studies in dance at the age of three and was further educated at the Royal Swedish Ballet School, he later graduated from the Vaganova Academy in St.Petersburg in 1982.

As a principal dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in London between 1984 to 1993, he toured the globe dancing all of the renowned classical roles as well as appearing as guest artist with numerous international companies. In 1993, he moved to New York to begin a freelance career, working with Merce Cunningham in his Repertory Group, Twyla Tharp Dance Company, Irene Hultman Dance and later Deborah Hay.

The choreographer and dancer Thomas Caley was born in the United States. In 1992 he earned a BFA from Purchase College in upstate New York. After a year of performing in a multitude of independent projects in New York City he joined the Merce Cunningham Company.
From 1994 to 2000, he worked as a principal dancer with the company, touring throughout the world and participating in the creation of 12 new works by Cunningham. In 2000 he moved to Stockholm to continue his collaboration with Petter Jacobsson and to continue working as a freelance dancer in Europe, in France Thomas has worked with Boris Charmatz on the 50 ans de danse & flip book projects. As of 2011, Thomas Caley is the coordinator of research for the CCN - Ballet de Lorraine.

Petter and Thomas Caley started working as a creative team in the mid nineties, choreographing works for Martha@Mother, the Joyce Soho in New York and the choreography for the opera Staden at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, a commission for the 1998 Cultural capital of Europe.

In 1999, when Petter was appointed the artistic directorship of the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm, they made the move to Europe to continue their artistic collaboration. An exceptional embodiment of their work for the RSB was the creating of two immense happenings,In nooks and crannies 2000 and 2001. The project included the Royal Ballet, Opera and Orchestra, as well as independent artists who took-over non-traditional, yet possible, performance spaces occupying the entire Royal Opera House of Stockholm. Petter received "Choreographer of the year 2002” from the Society of Swedish Choreographers in recognition of the modernisation of the Royal Swedish Ballet. 

After years of collaboration, Petter and Thomas established an independent dance company in 2005 - works include Nightlife, Unknown partner, Flux, No mans land- no lands  man,The nearest nearness – in 2002 they won a “Goldmask” for best choreography for the musical Chess with Björn Ulveus and Benny Andersson (ABBA).

As of 2011, Petter is leading and choreographing together with Thomas Caley for the CCN Ballet de Lorraine in Nancy : Untitled Partner #3, Performing Performing, Relâche, Armide, Discofoot, L’Envers, Record of ancient things, Happening Birthday. Their curating for the CCN invites as well a wide variety of artistic talent from around the world. Each invited creator joins in the active questioning of a specific theme: La saison de La 12/13, Tête à tête à têtes 13/14, Live 14/15, Folk + Danse = (R)évolution 15/16 and Des plaisirs inconnus 16/17, 50 ans ! 17/18. To insure a lively and non fixed use of the art form they continue their searching through installations for the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and Musée Pompidou Metz and an original initiative LAB-BLA-BAL, where a series of open house art experiments, workshops, and discussions are given at our choreographic center.