TEEN AMBASSADOR: JANELLE MERCER | FEBRUARY 10, 2018
Wow. What a performance this was. On Saturday I was lucky enough to see the Jessica Lang Dance performance and sit down with her for a question and answer session. Being a dancer myself, I was looking forward to seeing this show and had high expectations after watching numerous Youtube videos and stalking her Instagram account. (lol) That night I was not disappointed. I was in awe of the beauty and elegance that stepped out onto that stage. Not only the choreography by Lang but the dancers themselves. You could tell the countless hours that were put in at the studio to make sure every performance was the best it could be. I usually take notes during these types of shows, so I won’t forget what I was feeling and what I thought about the show throughout the night. Tonight it was different. I couldn’t pull my eyes away, fearing I would miss something spectacular. The show was set up a bit awkwardly, but a good awkward. There were five movements, each separated by a short three to five minute intermission. This gave the dancers time to change and get ready for the next piece. But also it gave the audience the time to reflect and really take in what they had just watched. The five movements that were included were Lines Cubed, The Calling, Her Road, Among the Stars, and Thousand Yard Stare. Each showcased a different theme that brought the audience closer to understanding this unique art form and Lang herself. I highly recommend seeing the Jessica Lang Dance show. It’s something I will never forget.
Before the show, I was able to listen in on a question and answer session with Jessica
Lang and Dr. Bob Meagher where she talked about her inspirations behind the
last piece in the show, Thousand Yard Stare. The dance was inspired by veterans
and their struggles to reconnect with themselves and the people around them.
Jessica Lang grew up with a father who had been apart of the military. There,
she began her research. Before creating a dance, which had such a powerful
message behind it, she was determined to become fully educated on the subject.
She listened to her father’s stories and later listened to her friends who had
served. She discovered not everyone is willing to open up about their times at
war. From there, she learned to step back and not push people past what they
were comfortable with. She decided to try a new approach to this. She asked a
friend, who was currently serving, to draw something on a piece of paper while
listening to a piece of music with his unit. It didn’t have to have anything to
do with war. It could be doodles or they could draw nothing. It was up to them.
Those drawings you would then see on the backs of the dancers. “Not shouting to
be noticed, just quietly there”, Lang described. With this performance, she
hoped that she could give the veterans a voice and allow their families to try
to understand what they had gone through.
In the information session, Jessica Lang and Dr. Bob Meagher said something that
resonated with me. The man referenced a quote, “The Power of Yet”. Since last
night, I’ve been thinking about it, what it means, and how it pertains to my
life. How everyone isn’t born with the ability to do everything right away. It
takes hard work and perseverance to achieve what you want to do in life.
Although I might not be able to do certain things now, with determination I
will be able to do it in the future. I won’t forget this quote. I have a piece
of paper taped to my bathroom mirror with all my favorite quotes, so every
morning I can wake up and read them. It motivates me to have a positive outlook
on the day and this morning I added this quote to my list.
The show started with Lines Cubed, a colorful performance with high energy. The dancers wore an array of
colors which livened up the stage. Next, was The Calling which incorporated a
long white skirt. From my adventure on Jessica Lang’s youtube account most of
the performances of this dance was done by a girl. Saturday night, it was a
guy. This was a pleasant surprise because Lang was able to capture the beauty
and elegance of a man. Men usually don’t show the soft side of themselves, but
Lang wanted to highlight it and show that men can be just as graceful as woman.
Her Road was the next movement. It emphasized the joys of life and following
the path that was meant for you. Everyone has their own road one must take and
no one’s path is exactly the same. You must overcome your own battles to get to
where you want to end up in the end. Following that performance was Among the
Stars. This one was my favorite. It incorporated a long sheet that the girl
wrapped herself up in. I interpreted it as she was sinking and getting stuck in
a certain situation. She needed help, from her partner, to unravel
herself and become free again. There was one point in the performance were the
dancers held the ends of the sheet tightly and all of a sudden let go. It was
if time stopped for a second and the sheet stayed frozen in time. It was truly
breathtaking; I wish I could watch it over and over again. The show ended with
Thousand Yard Stare. It incorporated the struggles of communicating, the
silence, the marching, and the brotherhood of veterans. The dance started out
with squeaking of the shoes as they slowly moved in a march like pattern across
the stage. Then they froze. You could hear the silence and then the large bang
of feet continued again, but louder. I imagined this as the attempted
conversations families try to have with their loved ones who served. It’s
impossible to fully understand what they had just gone through. They don’t
quite know how to communicate with the people they care about, so silence and
sudden outbursts are what comes out.
The Jessica Lang Dance performance was one of my favorite performances yet. I encourage everyone to
see these dances at least once, either at the Zeiterion or even on Youtube. She
invoked a feeling inside me that I had never experienced before and don’t quite
know how to describe it. I hope you are lucky enough to see her work. You won’t regret it.