Jessica Lang Dance: An Homage


I’m gonna come right out and say it – I’ve never really been big on dance performances that try to convey a narrative.

My little sister is a dancer, and a pretty talented one at that. I’ve gone to many, many of her dance competitions, and while I enjoy them, I feel that a lot of the symbolism in the older performers’ dances goes right over my head. The “language of movement” is lost on me, as my father would say.

Last night, however… Definitely opened my eyes to some new things.

Before I go any further, I’d like to give you some background. I was lucky enough to be able to listen to this program’s creator, Jessica Lang herself, explain her intentions and process with this piece before I saw the show. While I’m sure her work would still stand beautifully on its own, I think the inside information really elevates the performance to a whole new level.

Lang was approached by Jeff Falon, a former Marine, to create a piece to honor our veterans. She was initially hesitant – worried that she wouldn’t be able to do it justice, or that she would be inadvertently disrespectful. However, Lang eventually decided that she wanted to be the one to undertake this project, to ensure that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of someone who would exploit this sensitive topic for the money, and to make certain that everything would be done right.

Before anything else, she started conducting research. First, she interviewed her father, who is a Vietnam veteran. From there, she went on an emotional, eye-opening journey, talking to veterans, therapists of veterans, and families of veterans. After hearing all of their stories, she was so moved that she created this dance in just six days.

The result was… stunning, to say the least. While I worry that, for me personally, some things still escaped my notice, I still left the theatre awed by the performance. The dancers were incredibly talented, and the understated costumes made it clear that they had no need to compensate for anything. The lighting and backdrops were effective; they were obviously very well thought-out and helped to set the mood for each new piece.

Yes, of course the dancing was amazing, but my second favorite part of this show was the music. Each song helped the story to take clearer shape. My personal favorite was the very first one; it had a kind of clunky, dissonant feeling, and it instantly imbued me with the feeling of being on edge. Overall, it worked very well with the piece.

I don’t want to give too many details; this is really something you ought to experience for yourself. Words definitely cannot do it justice. This highly researched, impassioned show wasn’t at all what I was expecting: it was so much more. I hope that if the Z is lucky enough to host these performers again, you’ll do yourself a favor and go see!

  • All
  • Jessica Lang Dance
  • Yamato Drummers

2017-18 SEASON  ////////////////

  • All
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  • Capitol Steps
  • Che Malambo
  • Doo Wop
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  • The Moth Mainstage