“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.”
– from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets
These words have inspired choreographer Pam Tanowitz, composer Kaija Saariaho, musicians The Knights, and painter Brice Marden to create a new work to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Eliot’s masterpiece.
Mysterious, personal, and intensely beautiful, Four Quartets emerged from the Second World War’s destruction as a hopeful testament to the redemptive power of spirituality, art, and human goodness. In the poems, Eliot meditates on connections between past and present, time and space, individual and collective, and movement and stillness. The expressive qualities of dance and music recur as metaphors for the ineffability of human experience. Reimagining these poems, which spoke for the concerns of a generation in the midst of war and doubt, is a timely endeavor.
Pam Tanowitz is a leading American choreographer who is recognized for her post-modern treatment of classical dance vocabulary. Kaija Saariaho is an internationally acclaimed composer whose music combines electronica and abstraction into complex waves of lyrical beauty. Tanowitz and Saariaho will be joined in the project by the renowned artist Brice Marden, who will create its scenic design.
This project extends Pam Tanowitz’s collaboration with The Knights, an innovative Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra. The Knights ensemble for Four Quartets will consist of violin, viola, cello, harp, and electronics. This work will be Tanowitz’s first to incorporate text, which will be performed live by an actor whose words, in some sections, will be electronically manipulated and incorporated into Saariaho’s score. Eight dancers will perform the choreography. The T. S. Eliot estate supports the production, which will be the world’s first authorized dance and live music work based on Four Quartets.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in upstate New York is producing this collaboration. Pam Tanowitz Dance and The Knights will be in residence at the Fisher Center from June 18-24, working in Fisher Center studios to integrate the actor into the staging and score while completing choreographic and musical rehearsals. From June 25-July 5, the company will take the stage of the 800-seat, proscenium Sosnoff Theater for a production residency that will include work-in-progress performances at community partner sites, public and student masterclasses, artist talks on the creative process, and a lecture on Eliot and Four Quartets’ historical context.
The world premiere of the 75-minute work will take place on July 6, 7, and 8 to open the Fisher Center’s 2018 SummerScape Festival. Following the premiere, the production will be presented by its co-commissioners: the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA and the Barbican Centre in London. An estimated 7,500 audience members will experience this work through residency activities and its initial tour. Additional engagements are under discussion.
This project represents the Fisher Center’s mission to support the creation of world-class new work, build unique artistic and institutional collaborations, and encourage innovative artists to achieve their most ambitious visions.