The Innovative Collaborations of Jessica Lang Dance

Written By Diana Dunbar
September 23, 2017 at 7:42 PM

Jessica Lang is inspired by artistic collaborations. Her pieces testify to the transformative power of movement, music and visual composition coming together to create a mesmerizing performance. That will be on display this weekend, when Lang’s troupe debuts here in South Florida at the South Miami-Dade County Cultural Arts Center.

Lang is the choreographer and artistic director of Jessica Lang Dance, founded in 2011 and debuted in 2012 at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. She is a graduate of The Julliard School in New York City and a former member of Twyla Tharp’s THARP! Lang was a freelance choreographer for ballet companies before starting her own company. But she explains that working freelance was like “being a guest in someone else’s vision” — forming her own venture was inevitable.

Lang is a prolific choreographer who has received commissions from numerous organizations including the Guggenheim Museum for its “Works and Process” series. She has also received grants from organizations such as the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Choo San Goh Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Collaboration is a major part of Lang’s artistic vision. She says that she is “open to working with other artists to achieve a cross-art experience in order to open fences and the imagination of the audience.” Sometimes she seeks out artists; at other times she is asked to collaborate, as in the recent premiere of Tesseracts of Time, in association with the well-known architect Steven Holl, for the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

On the program here in Miami is Lines Cubed. Set to music by John and Thomas Metcalf, it presents a creative partnership with the interior design company Molo. This Canadian-based studio is committed to the creation of space-making, which combines the disciplines of art, architecture, and design. Lang incorporates Molo’s soft blocks and walls to highlight the lines and colors of Piet Mondrian’s artwork in her choreography. This work was first performed in 2012 at Jacob’s Pillow 80th anniversary celebration. Lines Cubed includes nine dancers and is a visual composition of Mondrian’s use of vivid hues in his painting.

Lang is also interested in working in film. She says she would like to present “movement ideas for box office films; making film for dance in an artistic connection.” Two of the program’s pieces reflect this interest: White: A Dance on Film, an interconnection of dance, speed and space; and i.n.k, a video interaction with the artwork of Shinichi Maruyama.

Maruyama was born in Japan and was a member of Hakuhodo Photo Creative. He is also a freelance photographer. i.n.k. was inspired by his series entitled “KUDHO,” which developed from Maruyama’s student days studying Chinese characters in sumi ink. “I loved the nervous, precarious feeling of sitting before an empty white page, the moment before my brush touched the paper,” Maruyama writes. In this case, an empty stage and a blank paper are both waiting for the moment of inception; i.n.k. is a collaboration of these two distinct art forms joining together.

Also on Saturday’s program are Mendelssohn/ Incomplete, Among the Stars and The Calling, set to music by Felix Mendelssohn — pure dance and unfinished pieces left open for the possibility of completion. Among the Stars, featuring music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, is a pas de deux on pointe. The Calling, with music by Trio Mediaeval, is a short solo performed with a large white skirt- an integral part of the choreography.

Jessica Lang Dance on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at the South Miami-Dade County Cultural Arts Center, 10950 S.W. 211 St., Cutler Bay; tickets $22.50-$45;


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