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Author: Becca Vaclavik

With Jessica Lang Dance, Julie Fiorenza is exploring uncharted territory

“Can you hear me okay?” Julie Fiorenza asks. “Let me know if the connection is bad. We’re kind of in a place that doesn’t have the best Wi-Fi or cell reception.”

Fiorenza, founding company member for Jessica Lang Dance (JLD), is based out of New York City. But when we connect she’s calling from Florida, where JLD is in residence at the White Oak Conservation, 17,000 acres of forest and wetlands north of Jacksonville.

A refuge for rhinoceroses and cheetahs may seem like an unusual spot for a dance company to set up shop, but it’s all part of Artistic Director and Choreographer Jessica Lang’s collaborative plan, Fiorenza says. “The creation of new works for the company is one of  the most exciting things that we do.

“Right now on this property, our living style is very communal. It makes us stronger as a company, especially when we’re creating a new piece, to be somewhat isolated from the distractions of the real world. It helps Jessica get into a creative place and mindset.”

Putting together a company of dancers who don’t mind sequestering themselves for days or weeks on end is an intentional act on Lang’s part. According to Fiorenza, who has been dancing with the company since its foundation in 2011, Lang carefully selects dancers not just based on their technical or artistic capabilities but also on how they’ll mesh with the rest of the group. It has to be a cohesive culture fit as well. “Like many small companies, we’re like a family, and that’s been the dynamic since day one.”

And for Fiorenza, it’s all part of the appeal of collaborating on new works with JLD. “It’s very exciting just to know that you’re going into uncharted territory… [and] I get to do it with people who I love and respect.”

After White Oak, the company will head to Illinois and eventually take the stage in Boulder. Just like the cities and territories they are touring, each dance piece is radically different from the one before, shares Fiorenza. “Dancing an evening of [Jessica Lang’s] work is like hopping into several different worlds over the course of two hours. For me, it’s artistically very satisfying, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to share that with audiences all over the world.”

See Jessica Lang Dance in Macky Auditorium Friday, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20.