For Four Walls

Choreography: Petter Jacobsson and 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


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.»


Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley

A creative team

The choreographers and dancers Petter Jacobsson and Thomas Caley, started collaborating in the nineties, choreographing works for Martha@Mother, the Joyce Soho in New York and the opera Staden at the Royal Opera in Stockholm, a commission for the 1998 Cultural capital of Europe. For the Royal Swedish Opera,Ballet and Orchestra they created two immense happenings, In nooks and crannies 2000 and 2001. The projects occupied non-traditional, performance spaces throughout the entire theatre. 
In 2005 they started their own company - works included Nightlife, Untitled partner, Flux, No mans land- no lands  man, The nearest nearness – in 2002 they received a “Goldmask” for the musical Chess with Björn Ulveus and Benny Andersson (ABBA).
As of 2011, Petter is the Artistic Director and Thomas the Coordinator of Research for the Centre Chorégraphique National - Ballet de Lorraine, Nancy. For the company they have created Untitled Partner #3, Performing Performing, Relâche, Armide, Discofoot, L’Envers, Record of ancient things, Happening Birthday and For Four Walls.

Their curating for the CCN is organized around questions or themes and each year they invite a wide variety of artists from around the world to play and question within them.
Their first programming season 2012, was entitled La saison de La. There they asked why is it Le Ballet but La danceIn response to this question of gender they presented solely female choreographers of diverse backgrounds. The season Tête à tête à têtes was a dialog focused on our modernity and its influences and connections with contemporary artists and spectators. Live! was a celebration of the ephemerality of the performing artsTogether with the continuing seasons, Folk + Danse = (R)évolutionUnknown Pleasures, 50 ans! and Fifty Plus, all have continued to challenge, celebrate and question our current seasons subject, the need for all this Useless Beauty. To insure a continued lively and non fixed use of the artform they have also worked with the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and Centre Pompidou Metz and Paris, and an original initiative LAB-BLA-BAL, a series of dicussions and open house art experiments.
Thomas Caley started his dance training at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, he continued his education earning a BFA from Purchase College in upstate New York in 1992. After graduating from university, a year was spent experimenting, performing in a multitude of independent projects in New York City. From 1993 until 2000 he was a member of the Merce Cunningham Company.
Petter Jacobsson toured internationally as a principal dancer with the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet in London from 1984 to 1993, He later 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 Deborah Hay. In 1999, Petter was appointed the artistic directorship of the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm. His studies in dance started at the age of three, he was further educated at the Royal Swedish Ballet Schoo