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Roger Durbin  |  March 31, 2014

DANCECleveland to bring hot new contemporary dance company Jessica Lang Dance

Choreographer Jessica Lang has been working since 1999 on dance making and has been heralded for her ingenious combination of clever dance ideas and background sets and costumes. Only two years ago, though, she formed her own company, Jessica Lang Dance, and she's once again the talk of the town.

All that prestige was enough for DANCECleveland, our area's wonderful dance presentation organization and a Knight Arts grantee, to snap up an engagement by this company in its debut performance in the northeast Ohio area.

To really give the flavor of her work and the dancing abilities of her company, Jessica Lang Dance will perform six of Lang's recent works.

"LInes Cubed," Jessica Lang, choreographer. Photo by Sharen Bradford

"Lined Cubed," created in 2012, has been called "the physical embodiment of a Mondrian color-block painting" by Dance Magazine. The set for the work is a clue to the geometrical theme of dance ideas, for the backdrop is divided into panels of white and primary colors. Costumes and lighting enhance the dancers as they move their way into and out of the color cycles. By dance end, each of the nine dancers are arranged symmetrically and represent each of the colors.

"Lines Cubed," Jessica Lang, choreographer. Photo by Sharen Bradford

"Mendelssohn/Incomplete" (2011), which is set to music by Felix Mendelssohn, was created during Lang's Joyce Theater residency. Six dancers are dressed in various hues of purple and blue, and reportedly glide through the lush and expressive music of the Romantic era composer with sometimes simple, unforced moves that are designed to enhance both motion and music.

"Among the Stars" (2010) is a shorter work for two dancers in a duet set to music by Ryunichi Sakamoto. At times the dancers have flowing trains behind them as they progress through the inky dark background as though really among, and eventually to be separated by, the stars themselves.

"The Calling" (excerpt from Splendid Isolation II), is an even shorter solo dance of seven minutes created in 2006. It features music by Trio Mediaeval. In what may be a nod to Martha Graham dancing in a stocking, this work features the dancer emerging from and dancing in a very long white dress. With bare arms and back, the rest of the scene is the swirling fabric of the dress.

"White" is unusual in that it is a dance on film choreographed and directed by Lang with music by Edward Grieg. Sounds weird, but watch segments on and you can get the sense of how magical and creative the enterprise is. The Grieg music doesn't hurt either.

And finally "i.n.k." (2012) features video art by Shinichi Maruyama from his Kusho series (translated as 'writing in the sky") in a longer 21-minute work for seven dancers. Large sloshes and splatters and droplets of black ink pan across the background as dancers move through the upstage area in concert with it all.

A simple description of the variety and ingenuity of what Lang creates makes this upcoming concert a real draw. It has all the makings of a wonderful dance experience.

The evening at the Ohio Theatre will feature a free pre-performance talk in the theater at 7:15 p.m. and a post-performance moderated Q&A session with members of the company.

DANCECleveland will present Jessica Lang Dance at 8:00p.m. on Saturday, April 12 at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave., Akron; 216-241-6000; Tickets are $20-$45.

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