( b. May 29, 1921 Chicago, Illinois, USA - d. Feb 24, 2009 New York, New York, USA ) Female
Pearl Lang, who as a dancer was a major exponent of Martha Graham’s choreography and who as a choreographer and teacher founded a distinguished company of her own, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, died Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 87 and lived on the Upper West Side.
A native of Chicago, Ms. Lang, who was born Pearl Lack and changed her name for the stage, studied with local teachers and soon showed a gift for both dancing and dance-making; she created her first dance at the age of 10 for a school class and, at 16, choreographed and performed a dance to Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.” From 1938 to 1941 she was a student in a special program for the gifted at the University of Chicago.
Moving to New York in 1941, she was accepted into the Martha Graham Dance company, remaining with it as a regular member until 1952 and often returning as a guest artist. She created roles in several Graham productions, including the Woman in Red in “Diversion of Angels” (1948), a celebration of the many facets of love. One of Graham’s inspirations for the choreography for this role was a painting by Kandinsky with a slash of red in it. She had Ms. Lang, in red, slash across the stage. In later years, Ms. Lang took over Graham’s own roles in such works as “El Penitente,” “Appalachian Spring,” “Letter to the World” and “Clytemnestra.”
Ms. Lang founded her company, Pearl Lang Dance Theatre, in 1952. She also choreographed for the Dutch National Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel, among other companies. Ms. Lang had a passion for Jewish culture and history and often used Jewish themes. One of her best-known dances is “Shirah” (1960), based on a mystical Hasidic tale of rebirth.
Ms. Lang taught at Yale, the Juilliard School and the Neighborhood Playhouse and was a valued technique and composition teacher at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
Ms. Lang also danced in theatrical productions, including the musicals “One Touch of Venus” (1943), “Carousel” (1945), “Finian’s Rainbow” (1947) and “Allegro” (1947), as well as in a 1951 revival of Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” starring John Garfield.
Source: NY Times Obit.