Jessica Lang Dance is ready for its Park City return
Choreographer selected new works to showcase
The Park City Institute brought Jessica Lang Dance to Park City in 2014 and has been waiting to bring the company back.
At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, the nonprofit will get its wish when it presents the return of the Long Island-based organization at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
Jessica Lang, the dance company’s founder, is also excited to return to Park City.
“We can’t wait to be there,” Lang told The Park Record during a phone interview. “Park City is one of our favorite tour stops.”
Lang is also looking forward for the Park City audience to see a night of repertoire: “Solo Bach,” “Sweet Silent Thought,” “Thousand Yard Stare,” “The Calling,” which is an excerpt from “Splendid Isolation II,” and “Tesseracts of Time.”
“When the audiences responded to our performance the last time we were there, it was so positive, and I think these are better works,” Lang said.
With the exception of “The Calling,” all the works are new for Park City audiences, and three were created in 2015 and 2016.
“They are demonstrations of how my work has evolved and grown while working with the same group of dancers,” she said. “I think [the night] will offer a nice variety of dance for everyone.”
“Solo Bach” will start off the evening.
The work, which Lang choreographed in 2008, is a three-minute work done to a Bach solo violin partita.
Lang choreographed it for her husband and Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre member Kanji Segawa.
“I made it a while a go as a welcome dance for my husband’s family who live in Japan and run a dance school,” Lang said. “They were having a anniversary celebration performance and he needed something to perform in, so I made this piece.”
The Park City performance will continue with “Sweet Silent Thought,” choreographed last year.
The piece features four dancers and was inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30.
“Last year was the 400th anniversary of his death, so I made a work to mark that,” Lang
“Thousand Yard Stare,” also choreographed in 2016, will lead into the intermission.
“The theme is war and those who are most affected by it, being the veterans,” Lang said. “The whole company of nine dancers perform this work.”
Lang’s signature solo, “The Calling,” opens the show on the other side of intermission.
“This piece, which was created in 2006, was performed in Park City in 2014,” Lang said. “It’s a solo that features a dancer in a long dress.”
The multi-layer “Tesseracts of Time” will close the performance.
The work was created in 2015 in collaboration with architect Steven Holl.
“He made the set and inspired the concept behind the piece,” Lang said. “His simple belief of architecture in relationship to the ground exists in four different ways — under the ground, in the ground, on the ground and over the ground.”
Lang said she not only enjoys collaborating with other artists, but also believes such projects are important to further both artists’ visions.
“When I find a like-minded person, meaning we look at the world and react in similar ways, it can inspire and awaken interesting and new reactions in and from both of us,” she said. “I mean I can’t do it all. I understand lighting, but don’t design lights. I understand costumes, but don’t create costumes. So, I look for collaborators who understand me, my process and vision who can push me. Each art form shapes the other.”
Another collaborative aspect of “Tesseracts of Time” is the music.
“My conversations with Steven inspired the music selections,” Lang said. “I wanted to know what he listens to that inspires his architecture.”
Holl gave Lang a list of composers and they informed her artistic choices in the choreography.
“He asked me if I liked (Iannis) Xenakis, Morton Feldman and John Cage and Arvo Part,” she said.
The one composer whose music appears in the piece that Holl didn’t know was David Lang, no relationship to Lang.
“When putting the music together for the ballet, I worked really hard to make sure the different dissonant compositions worked together,” she said. “I also had to separate what
Steven found fascinating in the music and find a way to use the music to shape the ballet.”
While music can inspire Lang’s chorography, she makes an effort to open herself to different influences.
“It’s all in the world around me and me being awake and ready to see something that winks at me and talks with me,” she said. “That being the investigation of finding all the elements that I will use to eventually create a fully-realized work.”
Even then, a work will change over time through different variables.
“There is an evolution of the art because it is alive and relies on the performance of a human being and the memory of a human being who watches it,” Lang said. “The dancers have nothing tangible to hold on to, so the change happens throughout time.
“The dancer could be doing the exact same performance, but we do it in a different way each time,” she said. “We have a memory of what it was and what it is, but moods change.”
Last year, Jessica Lang Dance celebrated its fifth anniversary season, a milestone for a dance company.
“It means the beginning is over and that we’re moving on,” Lang said. “We have set off on a mission and try to use all your resources and experiences to move forward towards creating a sustainable and flourishing organization.
“The five-year mark is a moment when you can say ‘We got this far and survived the early stages,’” she said. “There are other challenges ahead, of course, but they are different challenges and we’re stronger because of the experiences we have.”
The Park City Institute will present Jessica Lang Dance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Tickets range from $29 to $79. For more information, visit http://www.ecclescenter.org.
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