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Tesseract: Charles Atlas’ 3D film + Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener’s contemporary choreography exploring human form and technology

A group of dancers with video in the background

Charles Atlas/Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener

As part of Life Rewired, the Barbican’s year-long arts and learning season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything, running throughout 2019, we bring the European premiere of Tesseract to London.

Former Merce Cunningham Dance Company dancers Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener choreograph this ambitious exploration of the relationship between the human form and technology, together with pioneering video artist Charles Atlas - a long term collaborator of Cunningham.

Inspired by science fiction and time travel, and experimental in form and technique, Tesseract is rich in psychedelic, disorientating and hypnotic images. To open the show, an astonishing 3D film (for which audiences are provided with free 3D glasses) with vividly contrasting chapters in which movement and setting transport the viewer into imagined and hybrid worlds.

For the second part, a live performance is captured by multiple cameras onstage; the footage mixed and projected onto a translucent screen, offering various perspectives of the crisp, intricate and innovative choreography.

Since 2010 Mitchell and Riener have created dance in response to complex and active spatial environments, often merging elements of fantasy, absurdity and quiet contemplation into challenging multifaceted performance. After working together for years in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Mitchell and Riener developed a keen interest in the way abstraction and representation coincide in the body. Together they have been part of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life Dance Development program, the New York City Center Choreographic Fellowship, and have been artists in residence at EMPAC, Mount Tremper Arts, Wellesley College, Jacob’s Pillow, and Pieter. Their work has been presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, On the Boards, REDCAT, ICA Boston and Summer Stages Dance, MoMA PS1 as part of Greater NY, The Chocolate Factory, New York Live Arts, Danspace Project, the Vail International Dance Festival, and the O Miami Poetry Festival.

The work of pioneering filmmaker and video artist Charles Atlas has brought together dance, performance, and media for nearly four decades. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, he arrived in New York in 1970 at the age of 20. He was soon hired as an assistant stage manager and, eventually, a lighting designer at the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. In 1974, Atlas became the company’s filmmaker-in-residence. Atlas has collaborated with Michael Clark and Douglas Dunn, and worked with Yvonne Rainer, Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, and Marina Abramović.

Notes to Editors

Life Rewired is the Barbican’s year-long arts and learning season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything. Running throughout 2019, the season investigates the impact of the pace and extent of technological change on our culture and society, looking at how we can grasp and respond to the seismic shifts these advances will bring about.

Life Rewired demonstrates how artists are finding imaginative ways to communicate the human impact of unprecedented technological shifts and scientific advances, as well as finding creative new uses for Artificial Intelligence, big data, algorithms and virtual reality.  


Charles Atlas/Rashaun Mitchell/Silas Riener
Tesseract 3D film:
Direction and Editing by Charles Atlas
Choreography and Design by Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener
Music by Fennesz 
Performed by David Rafael Botana, Kristen Foote, Hiroki Ichinose, Cori Kresge, Rashaun Mitchell, Silas Riener, and Melissa Toogood
Tesseract live performance:
Choreography by Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener
Video by Charles Atlas
Music by Mas Ysa
Lighting by Davison Scandrett
Costumes by Mary Jo Mecca and Yvette Helin
Performed by David Rafael Botana, Eleanor Hullihan, Kate Jewett, Cori Kresge, Rashaun Mitchell, and Silas Riener
Steadicam operated by Ryan Jenkins
Thu 28 Feb–Sat 2 Mar 2019 (3 performances)
Barbican Theatre
1hr 45mins/including an interval
£16–£30 plus booking fees
Age guidance: 12+
Press night: Thu 28 Feb 2019, 7.45pm
Pre-show talk for members: Fri 1 Mar 2019, 6pm
Presented by the Barbican
Tesseract (3D film) was commissioned and produced by EMPAC/Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-commissioned by Triangle France
Tesseract (live performance) was co-commissioned by EMPAC, Walker Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and On the Boards, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music
Made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W Mellon Foundation. Developed, in part, through residencies at EMPAC, The Watermill Center and Walker Art Center