​Meet the Backyard Ball Honorees: Jason Moran and Jessica Lang

Monday Dec 12th, 2016

Blog > ​Meet the Backyard Ball Honorees: Jason Moran and Jessica Lang

On Saturday, January 14, 2017, YoungArts will host its largest annual fundraiser, the Backyard Ball performance and gala, as the culmination of National YoungArts Week, from January 8 – 15.
The celebratory evening will welcome prominent artists and alumni, community leaders, philanthropists and celebrities to the YoungArts Campus to applaud the 2017 YoungArts Winners—693 of the nation’s most promising young artists in the literary, visual, design and performing arts.
The event will honor jazz pianist Jason Moran (1993 Winner in Jazz) as this year’s Arison Alumni Award recipient, and choreographer Jessica Lang as the Arison Honoree for their vital contributions and commitment to the arts.
Jason Moran, known as a “provocative thinker in current jazz,” according to Rolling Stone Magazine, has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator.
A musician of diverse cultural interests, Moran is a connoisseur of modern furniture design who now exclusively performs in a chair specially built for him by the Danish designer Susanne Forsgreen. He is also a devotee of the painter Jean Michel Basquiat whose work continues to fuel his “Gangsterism...” series of compositions first heard on his debut’s instant classic “Gangsterism on Canvas.”
Moran has performed and recorded with some of the best musicians but has always pushed boundaries. His ongoing visionary collaborations in the art world have brought him additional fans and respect. Moran’s music is in the collections of both the MOMA and Whitney Museum of American Art. He scored a ballet for renowned Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, as well as scoring video works for contemporary American artists Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker, and has worked with pivotal visual and performance artists like Joan Jonas and Adrian Piper.

Jessica Lang is a choreographer and the artistic director of Jessica Lang Dance. Lang, a recipient of a prestigious 2014 Bessie Award has created more than 95 works on companies worldwide since 1999 including American Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet (2013 Manchester Theatre Award nominee), the National Ballet of Japan and Joffrey Ballet, among many others. Additional commissions include new works for the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra, The Harris Theater and the Chicago Architecture Biennial in collaboration with architect Steven Holl, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum for its Works and Process series. For opera, Lang made her directorial debut creating Pergolesi's Stabat Mater at the 2013 Glimmerglass Opera Festival. This season she choreographed San Francisco Opera’s production of Aida, directed by Francesca Zambello. She was a 2015 New York City Center Fellow and is currently a NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts Fellow.

Her receipt of a Joyce Theater Artist Residency supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation helped launch her own company, Jessica Lang Dance (JLD) in 2011. JLD has been presented by major venues including The Kennedy Center, The Harris Theater, New York City Center, Northrop Auditorium, Winspear Opera House, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and BAM Fisher and will tour to more than 29 cities in the 2016-17 season.

Lang’s work has also been performed by numerous educational institutions including The Juilliard School, SUNY Purchase, NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Southern Methodist University, among many others. She was a part of the founding faculty of American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and a teaching artist for the Make-a-Ballet program.

Lang, a graduate of The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy, is a former member of Twyla Tharp's company, THARP!