The legacy company of modern dance pioneer, Mexican-born New Yorker, José Limón.
Modern dance can be very geometric and cold, but there is a lively warmth to Limón’s choreography. He was a master of falling, a master of gravity and emotional expression. That made him a master of floating, of flying like a feather on a breeze. This company is something to see.
Thursday, January 30, 2020 ~ Limón Dance Company performs at Purchase College Performing Arts Center in Purchase, New York (near White Plains) at 8pm.
The program represents both the past and the future of Limón’s legacy. It includes: Chaconne to Bach, The Unsung, Radical Beasts in the Forest of Possibilities by Francesca Harper to music by Nona Hendryx, and an excerpt from Psalm to music by Jon Magnussen.
Get tickets from $30 at artscenter.org
Limón was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico on January 12, 1908. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1915. After studying art at UCLA, he came to New York City in 1928 to study design.
In New York, a modern dance performance hit him like a bolt of lightning. “What I saw simply and irrevocably changed my life. I saw the dance as a vision of ineffable power. A man could, with dignity and towering majesty, dance… dance as Michelangelo’s visions dance and as the music of Bach dances.” (Limon.org)
He studied under Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, performed on Broadway and began choreographing. On Broadway Limón danced for George Balanchine, New York City Ballet’s founding choreographer and the godfather of ballet in the United States.
Limón’s style of dance is now taught as Limón Technique. He uses the natural power of gravity to create a certain weightlessness. His first major work was Danzas Mexicanas (1939). He founded the Limón Dance Company in 1946 with his mentor Humphrey as Artistic Director.
The Moor’s Pavane (1949) is Limón’s signature work. It distills Shakespeare’s Othello (1604), a classic story of racial prejudice, into 20 minutes of passionate storytelling. The choreographer is also remembered for There is a Time, Missa Brevis, Psalm and The Winged.
Limón came to the U.S. from outside and he came to New York City from Los Angeles. To really know ourselves, we often have to look through the eyes of an outsider. It’s why companies hire consultants, to get that outside perspective.
Limón had vision, a natural talent for dramatic movement, and a certain drive. His outsider’s point of view is grounded in a humanity that often gets lost among the technical abstractions of modern dance. His humanity is what made Limón’s star twinkle so brightly in a field of stars. Limón’s light continues to shine through his technique, his choreography, and the dance company that is his legacy.
We didn’t know that one of the pioneers of modern dance was Mexican-American. How cool is that?