Jessica Lang Dance Company was at the Annenberg Center Live last weekend and it was a full house. JLD repertoire consists of ballet and a contemporary fusion of different dance styles. By touring the United States and developing a master class called LANGuage the company finishes its final tour in April 2019. A world premiere (“Us/We”) and a Philadelphia premiere (“A Thing Called Love”) brought out the innovate and versatile qualities of the company.
The movement of artistic time periods, like punk, baroque, and electronic music catered to a sense of musicology. The short compositions lead up to an atmosphere where sound, movement, and light meet in an unbounded appreciation for all art forms. The historical and contemporary fashion focused on how free will is mediated by our past, and steers us into the uncontrollable future.
The first dance, SOLO BACH, performed by Patrick Coker on Friday’s event was enchanted with a flood of lights that covered the entire stage. The graceful violin solo was embodied by the dancer. Unrestrained by the open stage, and enhanced by the sensation of a violin bow created tension. It was an intimate look into music composition and conducted this adaption into a performance. The Chamber Society of Philadelphia would be a great undertaking for this classical piece. Without the constructs of theme or subject we can appreciate the contemporary adaptation of light and the human spirit. Human soul comes to mind when the dance repeatedly returns to center stage to start again from the beginning.
The renaissance lighting from the first piece set the stage for the next dance, ARIA (excerpt). The Victorian period costumes designed by Fritz Masten was fitting for a presumptuous idealism. If we compare this excerpt from ARIA with the world premiere of WE/US, there is a similar tendency to follow the dancers in a circular movement. Both dances gained momentum where it could, and a fully immerse the viewer with its changing values. This cyclic movement showed a narrative into psychological and material culture. In ARIA, the fabric created a flowing tapestry from a triad of female majesties. The fallen or fleeting motion of a female was a succeeding domino effect. It resonates with the freedom of women and the portraiture of women through history.
The third piece was called GLOW and the ensemble moved under a radiant blue neon sign. The white jump suits worn by the dancers and jazz orchestration, composition by Owen Clayton Condon and Ivan Tervino, redesigned the stage to appropriate an underground culture. It was like a Bruce Nauman crafted neon sign coming to life. The dancers insinuated the cursive text in his wall or window sign, “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths.” The glow-in-the-dark sneakers and the anomaly of one dancer that comes out with light up shoes reminded us of B-Boying and B-Girling style. It represented the party scene with flashing lights, and the busting movement of pop art, and break dancing in 1970’s house parties. The mixture of influences associated with JLD emphasized how we identify with these different genres. Their form was alien and familiar in the range of popular culture now, and from the past.
[Annenberg Center] November 30-December 1, 2018; annenbergcenter.org