Park City Institute wraps fall and winter with Jessica Lang Dance
April 4, 2014
Jessica Lang Dance is a company on a mission to enrich and inspire audiences by "immersing them in the beauty of movement and music," said dancer Laura Mead.
That will be evident when the group performs at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 5.
The program will feature a repertory lineup that features "Lines Cubed," "Mendelssohn/Incomplete," "Among the Stars," "The Calling," an excerpt from "Splendid Isolation II," "White (Film)" and "i.n.k."
These pieces, Mead said, show the dancers’ versatility, but also feature some common lines of Lang’s style.
"One of those lines is her wonderful movement vocabulary, which showcases her training in ballet, jazz and classic modern dance," Mead told The Park Record during a telephone call from her home in New York City. "The pieces also showcase the movements’ relationship to scenic designs and elements, which have become Jessica’s trademark.
"She uses the movement visuals as a painter or sculptor would, as the artists would work with the space and give another dimension to the movement on stage," Mead explained. "That way, the audience gets to see another layer of art."
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One of Mead’s favorite works is "Mendelssohn/Incomplete," even though she doesn’t dance in it.
"It’s a beautiful, simple, yet, profound pure-dance work," Mead said. "The movement responds beautifully to the music and I love watching it."
The dancer is confident that the audience will like "i.n.k."
"It’s one of our crowd favorites," she said. "It features a video that is projected onto the back screen of ink colliding in mid-air with water."
Shinichi Maruyama, a Japanese American visual artist, created the video and Polish composer Jakub Ciupinski created the score for "i.n.k."
"It’s just a treat for the audience to see and for us to dance," Mead said. "What I think is important about presenting Jessica’s works is that her work is accessible and not in the sense of being appealing to the lowest common denominator.
"It’s accessible in the sense that people respond to the works from an emotional and visual sense," she said. "The works aren’t esoteric and audiences don’t need background in dance to enjoy the performances."
Mead has been with Jessica Lang Dance since the company’s debut at Jacob’s Pillow in 2012.
Jacob’s Pillow, a National Historic Landmark and National Medal of Arts recipient, is home to America’s longest-running dance festival, located in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.
"Jessica had a wonderful career as a freelance choreographer and has set works for companies all over the Untied States," Mead said. "She received a grant from the Joyce Theatre Foundation in 2010, and it provided her work, time and money.
"The only thing she didn’t have was a company," Mead said with a laugh. "So that was her catalyst to form a nonprofit and gather supporters and dancers."
Before establishing the company, Lang has created works for The Juilliard School, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Marymount Manhattan College, Southern Methodist University, Princeton University, The University of Richmond and Point Park University are a few of the places her works have been performed.
In addition, Lang is also a faculty member of the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and a teaching artist for the Make A Ballet program.
"All this has led to some of the works that we will perform in Park City, which, in turn, led to the organization of the full company at Jacob’s Pillow," Mead said.
Being with Jessica Lang Dance is a privilege for Mead because Lang works closely with the dancers.
"She is very clear and accepting of the dancers’ own impulses," Mead said. "She gives us movement directives from her own mind and body, but the artistic, expressive elements come from both her and ourselves. So we are like a group of autonomous artists who are doing her work with our own sense of self."
Mead also likes to be challenged.
"Jessica’s work is very physically demanding, which is one of the things I love," she said. "I love that she uses technique at the highest level and it’s exhausting.
"During some, the dancers wear pointe shoes, and some works are danced barefoot," Mead said. "Some of the works are very dramatic, and others are more pure dance. So I think as a dancer, it’s wonderful to get the opportunity to perform such a variety, but also staying within the realm of one person’s artistic vision."
Finally, Mead feels like she’s dancing in a family.
"The most special thing about the company goes back to how it’s a community," she said. "There are nine of us and we’ve been together for two years and it’s a wonderful group of people.
"We’re like this scrappy team of underdogs and I feel like there is no sense of hierarchy or ego," Mead said. "That makes the process efficient and that comes across to our audiences. They see that we like and trust each other and that we’re in this together."
Mead began dancing when she was a child because she loves movement.
"I love the sensation of being physically active," she said. "And what is so wonderful about dance, especially how we do it, is that we rehearse as a group. We take lunch breaks as a group and we make all this art as a group. It’s such a collaborative thing and I’ve always found a great way to touch the community through dance."
New York’s Jessica Lang Dance will perform at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd., on Saturday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. The performance is presented by the Park City Institute. Tickets range from $20 to $69 and can be purchased by calling 435-655-3114 or by visiting http://www.ecclescenter.org .