Founded in 2011, Jessica Lang Dance (JLD) is a New York City-based dance company dedicated to creating and performing the work of Jessica Lang (a former dancer with Twyla Tharp) who was hailed as “a master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine. The recipient of a 2014 Bessie Award, JLD seamlessly incorporates striking design elements and transforms classical ballet language into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary works.
Celebrity Series is pleased to offer an artist post-performance talk on Friday January 27. A 20-minute talk with Jessica Lang, artistic director, will be held in front of the stage immediately following the Friday performance moderated by Peter DiMuro of The Dance Complex. DiMuro offers his perspective of the company ahead of its Boston debut below!
In a galaxy long ago and far away, a young choreographer dared to come on to the dance scene and do what the then experimental dance world, found shocking: he danced to music! Sometimes literally, note for note. Boston audiences got to experience Mark Morris during some great repeat performances over many years through yearly visits under the presenter Dance Umbrella. Mark answered a need for audiences: to see movement that reinforced the music and to hear music that supported the dance.
Mark is now legend, of course. What strikes me in watching the work of Jessica Lang (no, not that Jessica Lange!) as her company approaches its performances with Celebrity Series is the link between her work and that of Mark’s.
There is something in the choice of movement to music/music to movement that seems to satisfy my dance taste-buds- like a really well-planned and executed 4 course dinner, you feel complete. Lang’s approach to music includes the classicists- Bach, Beethoven -but also slides to contemporary composers as well.
In a sneak preview last season, we were able to experience excerpts of “The Calling”, with its delicious never-ending white volumes of fabric, creating a skirt on the most petite of dancers. Like Mark Morris’ work, it shocks a bit how simple it is, how beautiful. Any of us who are makers, whether it be making food, or furniture or dance, cherish the simple elements in our world of making. These elements in of themselves are not complex, but when layered, crafted (baked, sanded, polished…) have the appearance of complex entities. In dance, we can often find ourselves mucking things up with the fanciest combination of steps and production value, when all we really need are great elements layered wisely to create the whole. Lang is right on with this in her repertory of dances, as she is her with “The Calling”. Look for the beauty, simply.
Lang also ventures into film, and this brings her solid classic craft into a new realm, beyond the likes of a Mark Morris. In watching an excerpt of “i.n.k.”, Lang balances the film images with the live dance counterpointed in front of it. You’re more aware of how to look at other dances after viewing this one: because of the deep shadows and light, your eye is forced to see form, shape and how it moves in space, as opposed to looking for the face of the dancers, ready to have them “perform”.
I am looking forward to chatting with Lang after the show Friday January 27th and hope you will join us with thoughts and questions of your own.
Peter DiMuro is a career-long dance artist, recently returning to Boston to become the executive director of The Dance Complex, a twenty-three year old non-profit center for dance in Cambridge. He continues to create and direct dance/theatre projects including those for his company Public Displays of Motion in Boston and around the country. He engages the public in creativity literacy in non-arts identified corporate and other community settings. In 2014, he was honored to collaborate with Celebrity Series of Boston as rehearsal director for Sylvain Emard’s Le Grand Continental public dance project.
Photo by ROBERT TORRES