From the piece ‘TheCalling6’.
(photo credit: KOMARU)
Like so many young girls, Jessica Lang (not to be confused with the actress) attended dance classes.
And like many of the girls lined up along the barre in her local studio, Lang had dreams for the future that did not involve dance.
“I had wanted to be a pilot and astronaut,” she says.
The moment that set her on the path to becoming one of the New York City’s rising star choreographers happened while she was in middle school.
“I didn’t know I wanted to dance for the rest of my life until one day one teacher said the right thing to me… He told me I was talented. And I felt I was,” she explains.
That simple comment opened a world of possibilities for Lang, propelling her to consider dance in a new light. She spent the following years driving to and from New York City to take classes with master teachers and eventually auditioned for and was accepted to the Juilliard School. It was there that she created her first choreographies.
“The first piece that I consider serious choreography was called Left. It was a duet for Glenn Sims, who is still with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and Charlotte Griffin, who is a professor at UC Irvine now,” she recounts.
Following Julliard, Lang joined Twyla Tharp’s company Tharp! In 2011, she founded Jessica Lang Dance, a Long Island City-based troupe dedicated to performing her choreographies. Her work is bright, physical dynamic and decisive.
This month, Lang will bring her company to Israel with a mixed and diverse program. For her introduction to the Israeli audience, Lang has chosen to present a tasting menu of her work from the past 10 years, which includes many different looks and styles.
“Everything inspires me. The world around me winks at me with special moments that make me say ‘I need to react to this and make a dance about it.’ That is why my work is so diverse. It isn’t any one particular element, it is all the elements that make the dance a whole,” she says.
Taking in this performance, one can clearly see that Lang’s work has changed and developed over the years. As her company has entered the dance spotlight, Lang has grown freer and more comfortable with creating.
“My process is an evolution. I trust myself more and more in the studio to go on instincts and find it in the moment. I used to prepare more; now I prepare differently. It is a process of being prepared and being spontaneous and listening to what I am telling myself to try or do,” she notes.
The evening’s program will consist of Solo Bach, Sweet Silent Thought, Thousand Yard Stare, White and I.n.k. Throughout these pieces, Lang’s nine dancers are seen in virtuoso moments alongside intimate passes.
“We like to give a nice diverse program. Because the company is only nine dancers, I must make sure the dancers are balanced with their duties. I like to show the range of the performers and my work,” she says.
Taking these major steps forward, bolstering her international tour schedule and expanding her reach in North America requires Lang to up her game in and out of the studio.
“It’s not a job that I have, it’s a career. And even more so, it is a life. I have never considered what I do a job, and that’s why I don’t dread it. I love making something and collaborating with my team of creators. I thrive on it. I love working closely with my dancers. They are inspiring, and I love to capture what I see in them. I also love to connect with the audience and speak to them through my work and discussion. I find watching them watch my work very rewarding, too. I like to observe them. And I do like the business challenges, making the financials work and trying to figure out creative solutions to everyday issues we might face constantly. It is my challenge to do it all and do it all well,” she says.Jessica Lang Dance will perform at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center on April 20, 21 and 22. For more information, visit www.israel-opera.co.il.