5 Questions for Jessica Lang

After years of freelancing, the choreographer has her own company and this weekend it makes its West Coast debut

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This weekend (May 30-31), Jessica Lang Dance will make its West coast debut with three performances at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts. Founded in 2011 by choreographer Jessica Lang, who’s best known for creating contemporary ballets with striking design elements, the troupe will present a diverse selection of pieces from the New York City-based company’s repertoire: Lines Cubed, Mendelssohn / Incomplete, Among the Stars, The Calling, White (A Dance on Film), and i.n.k.

During a tour that has found the company visiting Park City, Cleveland, Guatemala, and now Beverly Hills, Lang found a moment in her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

How has founding your own company affected your work?
I have always had visions and a creative imagination. I have been choreographing for 15 years, and I am happy to have a company that deepens my creative process in a whole new way that I wasn’t able to feel when I was freelancing. I still take commissions from outside companies because those experiences feed and challenge me as well. Most recently I had a premiere for the National Ballet of Japan. Having that time away from my company gives me the chance to recognize that when I come back to my dancers, I feel at home. 

Where do you find inspiration?
I find myself drawing my inspiration from all different areas of life. I am completely inspired by visual art and architecture, space and objects, music and human experiences and relationships, universal and personal.

The costumes and gestures look so striking in these pieces. How and when did the costumes and lighting come into play when you were creating?
When I dream and create, I envision the entire experience, which includes the costumes, sets, and lighting. I have collaborators who know me well, so they know what I am asking from them, and they put their skill to work. For example, I had this vision of a skirt draping out across the stage. It was not that the skirt existed and I created a dance using it. This is my vision, the skirt was built, and then I created the work using the costume because it is the central focus of the piece.  

The pieces you’re presenting at the Wallis are set to a wide variety of musical choices. How does music impact your work?
Music is 50% of any dance performance. I create to music. It is very important to me. I have a broad taste in music as well, so the program has a lot of variety. 

What are you hoping the audiences will take away from your West Coast debut?
As always, I want my audience to come into the theater with an openness and willingness to have an experience and connect to something. They need to just be and let themselves feel however they feel. It is a very simple request.

Bram Goldsmith Theatre at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Friday, May 30 at 8:00pm
Saturday, May 31 at 3:0pm & 8:00pm
Price: $79 – $129
Tickets are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000, or in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center Box Office located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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