Review of Jessica Lang Dance Launches 5th Anniversary Season Including Three New York Premieres by Jessica Lang

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Jessica Lang Dance Launches 5th Anniversary Season


Three New York Premieres by Jessica Lang

By Diane DiResta

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the Jessica Lang Dance company (JLD) takes dance to the next level. This young company celebrated their 5 year anniversary from June 14 – 19 at The Joyce Theater located at 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street in New York City

The company was launched by Artistic Director and Choreographer, Jessica Lang in 2011. The dance members include: Clifton Brown*, Patrick Coker, Julie Fiorenza*, John Harnage, Eve Jacobs, Kana Kimura*, Laura Mead, Milan Misko, and Jammie Walker. (*indicates founding members)

The June performance consisted of five pieces and three New York premiers:


*Solo Bach (2008), a New York premiere, is a solo work set to Partita No. 3 in E Major, Gavotte and Rondeau by Johann Sebastian Bach. The first piece, Solo Bach, featured John Harnage, a young, talented dancer. The bare stage showcased the dancer without the distraction of elaborate set design backdrops. His performance was met with thunderous applause.

Among the Stars (2010), was originally commissioned by Texas International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS), with music by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Among the Stars is a romantic pas de deux starring Laura Mead and Jammie Walker and was reminicint of Martha Graham, as the dance unfolded with a train of fabric as part of the story.

*Thousand Yard Stare (2015), a New York premiere generously underwritten by Geoff Fallon, co-commissioned by Iowa’s Des Moines Performing Arts, honors wounded veterans and those affected by war. The piece was voted “Best of 2015” by the Chicago Sun-Times when it was previewed at the Harris Theater Center in Chicago.

Thousand Yard Stare is a haunting emotional piece about the horrors of war. The title was inspired by “unfocused gaze of a solider in trauma. Dancing to the music of Beethoven, the precision of soldiers was evident in their march of 3 steps forward movement, freezing in place with foot raised and perfectly synchronized.

*Sweet Silent Thought (2016), a New York premiere, is inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnets and set to original music by Jakub Ciupinski. Sweet Silent Thought commemorates the 400-year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. 

This dance was set to five of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The spoken words were uttered against a crackling recording which detracted from the performance.

i.n.k. (2011), set to a commissioned score by Jakub Ciupinski, was inspired by Japanese visual artist Shinichi Maruyama’s work entitled KUSHO.  i.n.k. was the first piece Lang choreographed for her new company, JLD in 2011; it was created with the support of The Joyce Theater Artist Residency program.

This piece was set against a moving video of flowing ink and ink blots with dancers dressed in black projecting their shadows on the screen.

Jessica Lang’s goal of immersing the audience in the beauty of movement and music was certainly achieved in these performances which was evidenced by the precision and harmony of the dancers and the creativity of the Choreographer. The audience agreed as evidence by their standing ovation.


Jessica Lang Dance formed in 2011, following choreographer Jessica Lang’s receipt of a Joyce Theater Artist Residency supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Company has had rapid success performing at renowned venues and festivals throughout the country, and its performances have been named among the best dance events of the year by major publications in Dallas, Chicago and Boston.

JLD performed a rare two-week run of The Wanderer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in 2015, marking the company’s third Pillow season since its company debut at Festival 2012. In November 2015, JLD made its critically acclaimed Chicago debut with Tesseracts of Time, co-commissioned by the Harris Theater, the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial and the Society for the Performing Arts, featuring a set by world-renowned architect Steven Holl. The upcoming 2016/17 touring season will be the largest undertaking for the company to date. Presenting venues include the Dallas Winspear Opera House, Kauffman Center in Kansas City, the Meany Center in Seattle, the Music Center in Los Angeles, Celebrity Series in Boston, Society for Performing Arts in Houston, with many more to be announced.

JESSICA LANG: Artistic Director

Jessica Lang is a choreographer and the artistic director of Jessica Lang Dance. Hailed as “a master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine, Lang seamlessly incorporates striking design elements and transforms classical ballet language into artfully crafted, emotionally engaging contemporary works. Since 1999, Lang has created more than 92 works for commissions on companies worldwide including Birmingham Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Japan, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, among many others. American Ballet Theatre has presented her work at the Metropolitan Opera House. She has received commissions from the Dallas Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum for its Works and Process series. Lang received outstanding acclaim for her directorial debut and choreography of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at the 2013 Glimmerglass Opera Festival.

Lang was a New York City Center Fellow for 2015 and the recipient of a prestigious 2014 Bessie Award. Lang’s work has also been performed by numerous educational institutions including The Juilliard School, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, The Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, among others and for American Ballet Theatre, she was part of the founding faculty of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School where she taught until 2014.

In 2016, Jessica continues to tour and create on JLD, while being in demand as a choreographer with Ballet and Opera companies all over the world. In the 2016-17 season, Lang will create three world premieres for Birmingham Royal Ballet (May premiere of Wink), Pacific Northwest Ballet (August premiere) and a major NYC-based ballet company yet to publically announce (October premiere). Ballet West (Lyric Pieces), The National Ballet of Japan (Escaping the Weight of Darkness), Orlando Ballet (To Familiar Spaces in Dream), and Cincinnati Ballet (A Solo in Nine Parts) will all perform her work this season. In the fall, Lang is also choreographing for San Francisco Opera’s production of AIDA, Directed by Francesca Zambello.

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