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OBITUARIES / PASSINGS / Pearl Lang

Choreographer was protegee of Graham

March 03, 2009|TIMES STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Pearl Lang, 87, a dancer, choreographer and a major champion of the work of Martha Graham, died Feb. 24 at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City of a heart attack while recovering from hip surgery.

Lang, who also founded a significant company of her own, the Pearl Lang Dance Theater, was teaching an advanced class at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance in the weeks before her hospitalization. As recently as last summer she was teaching a composition class at the school.

She was born Pearl Lack in Chicago on May 22, 1921. She began dance training as a child and changed her name to Lang for the stage while studying acting at the Goodman Theatre.

She also excelled in dressmaking and for several years was enrolled in a special program for gifted students at the University of Chicago.

In 1941, she moved to New York and was accepted into the Graham dance company, where she remained as a regular member until 1952. Lang would eventually take over Graham's roles in several works including "Appalachian Spring," "Letter to the World" and "El Penitente."

She started her own company in 1952 and also choreographed for several companies including the Dutch National Ballet, Boston Ballet and the Batsheva Dance Company of Israel. She was also the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships for choreography and taught at Yale and the Juilliard School.

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