[Residency artist Jessica Lang will present a world premiere next weekend, September 10 and 11 as part of The Joyce's September 11 Commemorative Performance.]
Interview by Joshua Beamish
Jessica Lang is an undeniable force. She is also generous, unassuming, and flexible because as she mentioned in our meeting, “you have to be”. One might expect that after the creation of 74 works, including five creations for Richmond Ballet and an association with ABT that has spanned over a decade, Jessica may have acquired an air of pretense or perhaps earned the right to be demanding. The fact that she has gracefully escaped both traps speaks to why she is currently in such high demand. The truth is quite simple: people like working with her.
As we met during one afternoon in late-May, it was easy for me to see why she has achieved so much in such a relatively short time. Jessica was just about to embark upon her term as a Joyce SoHo Artist-in-Residence, an honor that she hasn’t taken lightly. She credits the Joyce Residency as arriving at exactly the right time in her career, as she finds herself currently navigating an exciting transition. Always seeking new opportunities to evolve, she has chosen to launch Jessica Lang Dance with this Joyce project serving as her project-based company’s debut. A graduate of Juilliard, she has effortlessly shifted between modern, jazz and ballet and credits early influences as varied as Joe Lanteri, Glen Tetley and Kylian for opening her eyes to the world she currently inhabits. Jessica has established a unique voice through a decade spent traveling from company to company, forging lasting relationships with numerous American dance organizations. Fearing the logistics of running an organization would interfere with her ability to remain focused on preserving the quality of her creations, Jessica has held off forming her own company until now.
Speaking as an ambitious choreographer myself, Jessica’s residency agenda of four to six films and two or three live works initially seems lofty by even my standards. Spend an hour with Jessica, however, and you will be treated to a clear analysis of the impetus behind each work and the source of inspiration for her inherent need to create. Fueled by her love of incorporating collaborators from other mediums, Jessica will tackle a diverse roster of works that transport audiences through everything from dance media projects with visual artist Shinichi Maruyama and composer Jakub Ciupinski to a pure movement creation inspired by a yet to be determined classical music selection. She has assembled her dream team of dancers, many of whom have worked with her in the past. In fact, almost every involved artist has worked with her before, another testament to her ability to effectively balance her insistence on quality of work with respect and gratitude for those who support her process.
Jessica Lang Dance has emerged onto the New York scene as the representation of a new parallel to her already impressive body of commissioned work. Audiences will now have a chance to see a core group of interpreters embody her ideas over a prolonged creative engagement. One can only imagine the ways she will cultivate this experience for herself and her followers. And don’t worry, surely the formation of her company will only serve to spark a larger influx of commissions for this frequent flyer, as Jessica intends to stay committed reaching audiences across America and beyond.
Stay connected to company’s development at www.jessicalangdance.com.
Jessica’s Upcoming Projects Include:
– Clifton Brown and Wendy Whelan will perform a work for the opening night gala at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis on September 10
– The following organizations will perform Jessica’s work over the course of the 2011–2012 Season: Ailey II, Richmond Ballet, Princeton University, Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, The Ailey School, ABT Studio Company, and Dance Alloy.
–The company will perform in June 2012 at The Joyce as part of the Gotham Festival
…and this just in! Jessica recently learned she will be featured in New York City Center’s Fall for Dance, October 29-30, too…congratulations, Jessica!