Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Jessica Lang Dance to spotlight five engaging works in April 12 Penn State debut

Jessica Lang Dance, founded and led by a prolific choreographer and “ballet illusionist” (Los Angeles Times), will perform five of Lang’s creations at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

The evening is scheduled to feature “Solo Bach,” performed to music by Johann Sebastian Bach; “Sweet Silent Thought,” danced to an original score by Jakub Ciupinski; “Thousand Yard Stare,” set to music by Ludwig van Beethoven; “The Calling,” featuring music by Trio Mediaeval; and “Tesseracts of Time,” performed to music by David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Arvo Pärt.

Purchase tickets, which are $38 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student and $28 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Lang, an award-winning choreographer and former member with Twyla Tharp’s touring ensemble Tharp!, founded the troupe in 2011 after receiving a Joyce Theater Artist Residency. The next year, Jessica Lang Dance debuted at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

The company has presented Lang’s works at festivals and venues worldwide, including Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance. The New Yorker calls Lang “a prolific choreographer of skillfully constructed dances that respectfully mesh with music and striking visual design.”

A Los Angeles Times reviewer described “Solo Bach,” a three-minute work for a single dancer, as “short, gracious and buoyant.” A Seattle Times critic called it “a virtuosic bauble of a piece.”

“Sweet Silent Thought” took inspiration from selected sonnets by William Shakespeare. The dance features readings from five of the bard’s poems. The work “perfectly physicalized the sensations inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnets, transforming dance into poetry,” wrote a Huffington Post reviewer.  

“Thousand Yard Stare,” which premiered in 2016 and is based on the name given to a traumatized solder’s unfocused gaze, aims to embody the pride, honor and loss felt by military veterans. A Chicago Tribune reviewer called the piece “an all-too-vivid underworld of loss, of camaraderie and isolation, and of the mind that’s trapped there.” The dancers perform to Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15.

“The Calling,” an excerpt from Lang’s “Splendid Isolation II,” features a solo dancer using mostly upper-body movements. A Seattle Weekly reviewer described the piece as “remarkably dynamic” and “terrifyingly beautiful.”

“Tesseracts of Time,” a work that a Huffington Post reviewer said “celebrates form and shape and shows how bodies can be malleable, strict, graceful and frenetic,” explores time and space using architectural design by Steven Holl.

Watch an excerpt of “Tesseracts of Time.”

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring Lang, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

Performers will also participate in a post-production discussion with the audience.

Foxdale Village, a Quaker-Directed Continuing Care Retirement Community, sponsors the performance.