Quick Q&A With Choreographer Jessica Lang

The founder of Jessica Lang Dance brings her New York troupe to Indianapolis for the first time on February 25. We caught up with Lang before the performance at Clowes Hall.
This is your first visit to Indianapolis, and contemporary dance is a tough sell outside large cities. How do you feel about touring in the Midwest?
I think it’s great. We’re always happy to be in front of new audiences. We hope to touch a new set of people with the help of our presenter there.
Yes, I was going to ask you about David Hochoy. Dance Kaleidoscope’s artistic director will lead a discussion with you before the performance. What do you want to convey to the audience before they see your work?
I’ll answer any questions he has, but I want the audience to enter the space with an open mind. You know, as an audience member, you have to participate in what you’re seeing. You have to find something to connect to. I don’t really like to define my work or to give too much of a path where the viewer only sees what I told them in advance to see. You’re supposed to take away whatever it is that you see.
What pieces are you most excited about staging?
That’s like telling a mother to pick a favorite child, but if I have to, I think Thousand Yard Stare and Tesseracts of Time have the potential to be very impactful. Both are full company pieces, and they take on topics ranging from war to art and architecture.
Where do you find inspiration for subjects that diverse?
I just look at the world around me. New work rarely originates with the dance—it starts with an idea. I’m inspired by so many different things, the program will always be pretty diverse.
Given that you’re attuned to the world around you, what was your reaction to President Donald Trump announcing plans to cut funding from the National Endowment for the Arts?
Stunned, but inevitable. I imagined that someone like him would do such a thing. We will fight, and we will figure out a way to move past this.
Your choreography experiments quite a bit with movement and props. In the solo piece The Calling [performed below], the dancer and the dress are almost co-stars. How do you turn that idea to interact with the costume into a reality?
The discovery happens in the studio. It really is interacting with the fabric or the set or the objects there that allows me to respond to what I think has an impact. If I get a visceral response from something, then I keep it.