Alumna Prue Lang

Postcard from Paris: Prue Lang (BA Dance 1992)

In our postcard series, we invite alumni living abroad to tell us their VCA story. This week we interview the dancer and choreographer Prue Lang, currently working and living in the City of Lights.

By Alix Bromley

After graduation, Prue Lang (BA Dance, 1992) became a founding member of Meryl Tankard’s Australian Dance Theatre, creating and touring new works throughout Australia and internationally. In 1996 at the invitation of renowned French directors Bouvier / Obadia, she moved to France to join Compagnie L’Esquisse at the Centre Nationale de la Danse (CNDC) Contemporaine d’Angers. After extensive touring and a dance film project she joined the Compagnie Cre-Ange.

In 1999 she embarked on an important creative collaboration with William Forsythe and until 2004, she was a leading soloist of the renowned Frankfurt Ballet, both dancing and choreographing for the company. During her tenure, she was named ‘Most Outstanding Dancer’ by Europe’s Ballettanz’s Annual Critics’ Survey. Works she created for the Frankfurt Ballett include Narc, Intervenus, ScreenPlay,Uncharted and Infinite Temporal Series which earned her Most Innovative Production and Most Outstanding Choreographer by Europe’s Ballettanz’s Annual Critics’ Survey.

Since 2005 Prue has been working as an independent choreographer presenting her works in international festivals, theatres and museums. She is currently based in Paris.

Can you provide us with a background of yourself?

I graduated from VCA dance in 1992. I worked in the dance profession first as a dancer then as a choreographer. My work took me to Europe where I have been living the past 16 years. Since moving to Europe I have had the opportunity to collaborate with many amazing artists from all over the world and wealth of creative experiences both in companies and independently. I am currently an independent choreographer based in Paris supported by the French ministry of culture – I present my work here and abroad.

How did you arrive in Paris?

I moved to Europe in 1996 to work with Companie L’esquisse at the CNDC Angers, then moved to Paris the following year to continue working with companies on a freelance basis. Paris is a city that attracts and nurtures a lot of artists, a great variety of artistic practices and has a culture of going to see a lot of theatre – therefore a very attractive and stimulating city for me.

Do you think the city / place you are has influenced your work?

Yes I believe it has. I also lived in Germany for six years, before moving back to France. Both countries have their own aesthetics, cultural practices, traditions and trends, which consequently affect you when you create work there. But I think what has influenced me the most is the European sensibility to art and in particular theatre in which the diversity, appreciation and desire to understand and engage in the work is very strong.

The European’s ability to absorb, decipher and reflect on work in a deeply conceptual way has also strongly influenced the way I think about and create my own work.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on my new performance that will be presented here in Paris at the Theatre de Chaillot in 2013. For this project my approach is twofold; artistic and environmental – the two elements being united by the question of time.

It follows on from my last work UN RESEAU TRANSLUCIDE which is a dance performance autonomous in energy (the dancers simultaneously generated the power needed for the light and the sound).

What’s an average day like for you?

It depends – if I am in residence for a new work it would involve going to the dance studio and working in the studio with dancers the whole day. If it is a non residence period it would involve sitting at my desk writing grant applications, organising scheduling, administration etc. or teaching workshops the whole day.

What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist these days?

Paying one’s rent! Trying not to compromise artistically when the budgets are being reduced and cut, trying to come up with strategies or ways to manage your time when the wonderfully stimulating artistic projects don’t pay well and have to be balanced with other more tedious jobs. The precariousness of freelancing in general!

And what’s the most rewarding?

Being able to create and define your own artistic practice. Being able to choose the people you collaborate with. Having the opportunity to meet and exchange with so many other inspiring artists and practices. And of course the magic and energy that transpires in the studio when I work with my dancers. Seeing my work finally transcend the initial concept in my head to become a wonderful live physical event!

Can you provide us with a career highlight/achievement ?

My collaboration with William Forsythe – whose creativity, intelligence and complicity inspired me to push my artistry both as a performer and a choreographer to new levels. 

 What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Long dinners, read, beach trips, enjoy my little girl and my partner, see exhibitions, sleep in, discover new places, get sun on my skin (all too rare!)

Why did you choose to study at the VCA?

I grew up in Melbourne and when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in dance it was the most interesting place to do this at that time.

Can you tell us about your favourite VCA memory?

Public responding enthusiastically to a work I created and presented at Grant Street Theatre –  I think it was a moment when I realised what I had in me!

Why did you decide to pursue a career in this field?

Dance was a passion I developed from an early age and despite all the other studies and things I enjoyed, it remained stronger than all of them and I just had to pursue it!

What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in your field?

Keep focused on what you want achieve yourself. Your body, your circumstances, your opportunities and support will be ever changing, so cultivate the inner artist and thrive on pushing your own boundaries.

What are your goals for the next few years?

To continue creating my own work in the best possible way, despite living through a financial crisis! To stay true to the artistic vision that currently drives me. To nurture the younger artists I work with and open up to new ones. To learn more about new technologies and develop more skills I can bring to cross-disciplinary practice. To keep developing my work with climate change in mind and continue to evolve these ideas within the theatre structures. To challenge myself with solo work. To keep playful and curious and continue creating the work I want to see!

If people want to know more about you, where should they look? i.e. weblinks etc…

www.pruelang.com