One of the most celebrated choreographers of her generation, Jessica Lang leads Jessica Lang Dance- a company whose mission is to enrich and inspire global audiences by immersing them in the beauty of movement and music.
Jessica Lang Dance (JLD) has received numerous grants and funding from organizations while creating a diverse repertoire demonstrates a commitment to artistic collaboration and a style that resists categorical definition. JLD has performed at premier venues and festivals worldwide including Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival, New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Joyce Theater, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, The Music Center, Winspear Opera House, Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, Bolshoi’s Inversion Festival of Contemporary Dance and Palacio de Bellas Artes, among others.
10x10 Q&A with Jessica Lang
JESSICA LANG leads the creative vision of the organization which has garnered remarkable acclaim since the company’s founding in 2011. Under her artistic leadership, the company now offers more than 50 performances annually at some of the world’s most prestigious performing arts centers. Noted for her dedication to educational activities, Lang developed a unique curriculum for JLD called LANGuage, which is offered as part of the company’s programming on tour and locally in New York City, focusing on the Queens community.
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a choreographer or was there a time when you considered having a performance career?
Of course, as a child I thought I would dance and perform. I didn’t really understand the career path of a choreographer. While at Juilliard I was able to see the potential in myself as a choreographer and that option, but I still thought I would be a performer. It wasn’t until I was a professional dancer in Twyla Tharp’s company that I realized I didn’t actually want to be a dancer. After my time dancing for her, I started to find my path as a choreographer and never went back to performing.
2. What inspired you to create your own dance company?
I wanted to see what it was like to work with the same group of dancers over a period of time, and how working with the same artists would affect the art I made.
3. What moves you to create a new piece (e.g.: music, human nature, visual arts, etc.)?
I get my inspiration from the world around me – anything that “winks” at me, that makes me feel a dance and could be made around that seed of inspiration, is what leads me to creating a new work.
4. Roughly how long does it take you to choreograph a new piece?
It depends on how you are asking that question – if you mean from inception of idea to performance it could be years; if you are talking about when the conversations begin with collaborators, the answer is 6 months to a year. If you are talking about the time in which dancers walk into a studio and we make the actual steps – the time it takes me is reflected by the length of dance the number of dancers. If we say 20 minutes with 9 dancers, the answer is 2-4 weeks.
it also has to reflect the number of hours a day – and that is 6-7 hours a day. It really depends on so many situations, who the dancers are, what I’m making, etc. Sometimes I have to hurry and make quick decisions and be prepared, and other times I might be able to breathe and play with ideas before structuring the piece.
5. Pick 1 word—that starts with the letters ‘J, L and D’—that best describe Jessica Lang Dance.
Joyous, Lyrical, Driven
6. Without confining yourself to any box, how would you describe your style and/or approach to movement?
It is a blend of modern dance with the use of the floor, breath and weight, combined with ballet technique of line, execution and lift.
7. What is the best advice that you have been given?
“Do” is the most important action.
8. Whom do you define as visionary?
Anyone who tries to bring something in their imagination to reality.
9. What do you hope audience members take away from tonight's performance?
I hope the audience comes to the performance with an open mind and heart, and that they allow themselves to be transported by each work. Each work will speak to each person differently, and they have the right to feel what they feel and react with their own opinion.
10. What songs, artists or styles of music are you currently listening to?
Jazz and anything Tony Bennett – I just made a work with his music and I am still enjoying everything on every album. Classical – Dvorak is on my playlist right now, on repeat, because it is the next work I am making – Piano Trio in E Minor.
Jessica Lang Dance Company
Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7 pm
Part of the 10x10 Arts Series
Described as “reliably sophisticated and achingly beautiful” by the Chicago Tribune, this performance will immerse you in the beauty of movement and music.