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Jessica Lang Dance
Kansas City, Missouri
Saturday, 1 October 2016 - 7:30 PM
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Jessica Lang is being recognized as one of the finest choreographers of her generation, but it’s been a lifelong journey to her current success. She started dancing when she was three years old, growing up in a suburb of Philadelphia. Then fresh out of Juilliard, she joined Twyla Tharp Dance. After touring with the company for two years, it disbanded, and Lang was presented with the opportunity to take a new direction in her life.

“It was a really good thing for me because through that two-year experience, I realized I actually didn’t want to be a dancer, that I missed the creative process,” she said. “I had been exploring the creative process when I was at Juilliard and thought maybe it was something I could do. The commissions came quickly, and I just decided I didn’t want to be a dancer. I wanted to create dance instead.”

And create she did, choreographing works for companies around the world, including Joffrey Ballet, Sydney Ballet and the Kansas City Ballet. Lang’s choreography is a combination of classical technique and beautiful line, as well as a true understanding of modern dance. Lang has been hailed as “a master of visual composition” by Dance Magazine.

Jessica Lang Dance, founded by its namesake in 2011, will perform several works in Kansas City, but two will serve as the centerpiece of the program, Tesseracts of Time — A Dance for Architecture and Thousand Yard Stare. Both are substantial works that deal with complex and important themes.

Tesseracts of Time — A Dance for Architecture was a collaboration with architect Steven Holl. The work will have special interest to Kansas Citians, as Holl designed the Bloch Building expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The building won the 2008 American Institute of Architecture Honor Award and made many lists for the best new building of 2007.

Thousand Yard Stare is another new work by Lang. Its name comes from a 1945 Life magazine story’s description of a traumatized soldier’s mental state. Lang says that the work focuses on “war and those affected by it, most importantly veterans.”

“I set it to one of Beethoven’s late string quartets, Op. 132, when he himself was battling with his own illness and facing what he thought was certain death,” Lang said. “I think you hear that in the music. I did a lot of research, working with music therapists and talking to some veterans who were kind enough to share their stories.”

The Harriman-Jewell Series’ presentation of Jessica Lang Dance will reinforce the Series’ historic commitment to dance and the best in modern art. It promises to be an exciting and revelatory evening.

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