Dance Victoria opened its 20th anniversary season with New York’s choreographer Jessica Lang, who was called a “master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine. Lang is a former member of Twyla Tharp’s company, and has created more than 90 works for companies worldwide including the Joffrey Ballet and New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute, among others. She was a New York City Center Fellow (2015) and is the recipient of the prestigious Bessie Award (2014).
Lang presented five contemporary ballet works, including Lines Cubed, inspired by the primary colours, lines, and geometric shapes of artist Piet Mondrian, with right angles and straight lines creating a moving painting. Mendelssohn/ Incomplete is a work of pure dance with three couples engaged in a fluid journey across the stage to one movement of Mendelssohn’s piano trio in D. Among the Stars is a folkloric tale suggesting the love of a couple now separated. The piece makes use of flowing, shimmering fabric manipulated by two dancers to become a divide, capes, wings and a still river.
In The Calling, a lone dancer, constrained by a voluminous dress that spreads like an open, flat parachute, moves with pleading gestures to the medieval chant “O Maria, Stella Maris.” Lang’s latest work, Thousand Yard Stare, is named for the war-weary, blank, unfocused gaze of a soldier. This piece for nine dancers, set to a Beethoven string quartet, is based on Lang’s talks with soldiers and research on post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jessica Lang Dance performs at the Royal Theatre in Victoria on November 18 and 19, 2016.