An extremely sought-after choreographer, Lang has a notable resume as a graduate of Juilliard and numerous original works staged on companies across the globe. This is the first piece I’ve seen of hers that ventured away from her jazzier works like ZigZag and Let Me Sing Forevermore, both done on American Ballet Theatre. Shades of Spring is a more contemporary approach although still softened by ballet shapes.
Heavy on metaphor, the stage is equipped with a mirrored ramp, a mirrored panel of marley, projections of glass-enclosed plants, and half rehearsal-wear, half performance-wear costumes. The steps blend from organic to inorganic, the latter being categorized by more structured ballet steps.
Similarly, the projection is of a natural object (the plant and its roots) in an unnatural environment, sterile glass jars and fluorescent lighting.
Joseph Haydn’s formal Piano Trios accompaniment is yet another mixed metaphor. It’s clear Lang has a message to convey, perhaps one that attempts to connect two oppositions:
without darkness there cannot be light, you can only go forward if you look back, happiness is only cherished when sadness is overcome.
Program notes reveal plant roots as inspiration for Lang and costume designer Jillian Lewis. Dancers connected by laying in piles on the mirrored ramp or linking arms to represent roots, at times an outstretched hand might reach to another dancer.
There were also several wonderful moments outside of the straightforward root structures; a pair of dancers stacked their bodies to make a walking bug figure, a couple intertwined in a lift and then tilted back and forth like a drinking bird toy dipping its beak into a cup of water.
However, across the six movements there lacked a distinct repeated thematic quality to tie the piece together, creating a detachment between sections.