Time for a road trip! Portland’s White Bird is bringing Jessica Lang Dance to the jewel-box Newmark Theatre on SW Broadway, March 8–10, 2018.
The mixed-bill program looks a lot like the one we saw here in Seattle back in November 2016 at Meany Center, including The Calling, Solo Bach, Sweet Silent Thought, and Thousand Yard Stare. That’s not a problem, though, as SeattleDances reviewer Charlotte Hart noted in her review, “Every work on the program begged for further viewing.” Sadly, the show-stopping Tesseracts of Time is not part of the White Bird lineup; instead, Portland audiences will see the jauntier Glow and the Mondrian-esque Lines Cubed.
If all you’ve seen of Lang’s work is The Calling and Her Door to the Sky (both danced by Pacific Northwest Ballet in the past few years, both warmly received), you’re in for a surprise. The seven pieces on the White Bird program display Lang’s range, each piece inviting the audience into a new, full world. “There is nothing predictable about her work,” says White Bird co-founder Walter Jaffe. The most apparent through-line connecting the pieces at Meany in 2016 came from the way the dancers delivered Lang’s work: strong technique, unfussy precision, core-deep musicality, complete conviction, and the ability to activate the space around them. In moments of unison they achieved an organic togetherness; they had a mesmerizing ability to move—evolve!—as a group and as individuals at the same time.
Most of the dancers on the Jessica Lang Dance tour have been with the company for several years or more, but two of the dancers performing in Portland are new to the company, Thomas Ragland and Rachel Secrest both joined in 2017. A Dance Tabs interview from last year asked Lang how she selects her dancers. Lang’s answer says so much about the company’s style, “I look for intelligence, musicality, technique and physicality. I look for dancers who are equally trained in ballet and modern dance. I like the line ballet dancers can make and the detailed quality of their movements. But I also require from my dancers the sense of gravity, weight, and breathing and the ability to use the floor. And on the top of that I am interested in their spirit. Are they trying to communicate more than just the steps? Are they taking my material and making it come to life in a way that resonates with me, so I go ‘Yes, this is what I see, too.’”
White Bird has always searched for strong and original voices in dance, Jaffe says, and they have found one in this choreographer. “Jessica Lang,” he says, “is certainly one of those gifted artists with an original, unique voice.”
For tickets and show times, visit whitebird.org. Discounts available for groups/students and seniors. Can’t make it to Portland? Check out the online videos below: