The performing arts have the power to inspire audiences towards positive social changes. Individuals can be inspired to make choices for the good of everybody on this planet, as Sasha Waltz underlined on the occasion of the SDG Global Festival of Action back in March, describing the creative process in her In C project.

Waltz’s In C is a flexible work of improvisation based on a very fixed structure. It is an experiment “to give the power to the ensemble and the individual. Everybody makes the choice, every moment, for the benefit of the whole group,” said the choreographer.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Yanina Isla
Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Yanina Isla

The music

The musical piece In C, composed by Terry Riley in 1964, is considered the first piece of minimalist music. Its two-pages score comprises fifty-three musical phrases to be played by an undefined number of instruments.

Musicians in the ensemble can repeat each phrase an arbitrary number of times and are encouraged to start them at different times. Starting from phrase no. one, the fragments should be played in sequence and although they can be skipped, they cannot be replayed at a later step.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Jo Glinka 2021
Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Jo Glinka 2021

Figures and formations

Sasha Waltz has accordingly conceived fifty-three figures the dancers can repeat at their discretion, following the same rules Terry Riley determined for the music.

She also created about thirty spatial formations for the dancers to adopt when getting in relation to the partners and sculpting the space. The result is a choreography that happens on the spot, in which each individual has freedom and responsibility for the overall group’s work.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Yanina Isla
Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Ensemble | ©Yanina Isla

Colours

Waltz was immediately inspired by the score and knew she wanted to work with colours. Having been conceived in times of strict lockdown, costumes and lighting were designed within the company by Jasmin Lepore and Olaf Danilsen, respectively, and strongly inspired by a concept of reuse.

Light has a special role, being another partner in the choreography, following its own schemes of colours and fade transitions intertwined with those of dancers and musicians.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Davide di Pretoro, Hwanhee Hwang, Edivaldo Ernesto | ©Yanina Isla
Sasha Waltz & Guests, “In C”, Terry Riley | Davide di Pretoro, Hwanhee Hwang, Edivaldo Ernesto | ©Yanina Isla

In C is next performed on July 1 and 2 at Oper Köln, Germany.

Dancers: Blenard Azizaj, Davide Di Pretoro, Edivaldo Ernesto, Melissa Figueiredo, Hwanhee Hwang, Annapaola Leso, Michal Mualem, Zaratiana Randrianantenaina, Aladino Rivera Blanca, Orlando Rodriguez, Joel Suárez Gómez.


Information in this article is partially derived from Sasha Waltz’s seminar: “Dialogues between dance, music and the visual arts” – part of “Kirill Gerstein invites” hosted by the Kronberg Academy.