Meet Up Right Atlanta Choreographer, T.Lang

07 21 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized

Up Right Atlanta, a collaborative performance between visual and performance artist Nick Cave and Atlanta-based choreographer T. Lang, will be more than just a stunning work of dance and movement – it will be an epic experience for the entire city to share in together.

Up Right Atlanta presented by Flux Projects, will take over Ponce City Market on April 24-26 during an incredible display of dance, art and design in an active construction zone within PCM’s Central Food Hall. Local choreographer and Spelman College faculty member, T. Lang, will reveal a brand new piece in collaboration with Nick Cave and his renowned Soundsuits.

We sat down with T. to discuss her background in dance, her inspiration for Up Right Atlanta, and working with Cave’s Soundsuits to create a one-of-a-kind performance.

 

 

Can you give a brief synopsis of your dance background and what brought you to Spelman College?

I received a BFA and MFA in Performance and Choreography from University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and NYU Tisch School of the Arts respectively.  I danced with Marlies Yearby's Movin Spirit Dance Theatre before I began my choreographic career in New York City.  While I was presenting my work in the city, I was teaching as a visiting artist at several college institutions. I was an artist- in- residence at Spelman College in early spring of 2008.  While I was in residence the college offered me a tenured track position with their drama and dance department. Joining Spelman's faculty is a full circle moment for me. I wanted to attended Spelman for undergrad however, they did not have a dance program.

 

Where have you drawn inspiration for choreography?

Nick shared with me that the opening section of the performance must evoke a feeling of cleansing while still being explosive. He wants a feeling of celebration to open the work. Along with his new Soundsuits that he will debut, there is one suit that resembles an exaggerated version of a drum major. I have been exploring movement vocabulary from Jackson State University's J5 Drum Majors, one of my favorite HBCU bands that holds a personal significance for me too.  I decided to deconstruct and investigate that movement in hopes to create a unique movement language for that suit. 

I have been inspired by Nick's Soundsuits. Not only has the material for the suits inspired the choreography, but Nick's intention and significance for the construction of the suits for Up Right provided a starting point to create dance phrases. 

 

How has the process been in making the selection of performers?

My formula for selecting performers has always been seeking those who display a certain grit in their performance. Technique can always be taught and honed but seeing performers' true essence and uninhibited passion captures my attention. The audition process for Up Right was difficult because Atlanta artists showed up and showed out!

How have the design of the Soundsuits affected your choreography?

The suits add another level of awareness for me as I create the movement. Being aware of multiple ways the suits can swing or pulse for example, brings more possibilities for movement invention.

Photo Credit James Prinz Photography

How is this performance different than others you have choreographed in the past?

My company members of T. Lang Dance tease me for putting them in costumes that expose them… literally! With Nick's Soundsuits, the exposure is vastly different than what I am normally use to. Though the dancers will be completely covered and unidentifiable, the experience of exposure will be different for them. Once the Soundsuits are on, there is this sense of armor protecting you.  I am curious to know what type of transformative experience the performers will have as dance and embody the intent. Will the performers have a new understanding of exposure though being in a fully covered ensemble that is unlike their norm?

 

Did anything specific about Atlanta inspire you during your creative process?

I teach an advanced choreography course to graduating seniors from Spelman and Morehouse College.  I selected 3 students who have excelled in the course to join me in the workshop process for Up Right. The workshop process allows time for the development of creative research before I go into the rehearsal process with the cast.  My students from the AUC provided an energy and insight that inspired further development and experience for Up Right – I gave the task to my students to create the spatial patterns for the show.  They personally challenged me every step of the way to dig deeper and abstract further yet hinting at familiar movements in order to create an engaging and unpredictable experience. 

 

For more information on Up Right Atlanta on April 24-26 at Ponce City Market and to reserve your ticket for this free performance presented by Flux Projects, visit: 

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/up-right-atlanta-by-nick-cave-tickets-15765663524