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Marian Horosko
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The Limón Dance Company

by Marian Horosko
December 7, 2008
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

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The Limón Dance Company
The José Limón Dance Foundation (office)
307 W. 38th Street, Suite 1105
New York, NY 10018
(212) 777-3353

It has been an energetic touring and performing 100th anniversary year for the Limón dance company. José Limón (1908-1972), was born in Culiacán, Mexico and founded his company in 1946, mentored by Doris Humphrey. American modern dance lineage descends from the four modern dance rebels—Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Hanya Holm to Limón, who was mentored by Humphrey. He had studied at the Humphrey-Weidman school, danced with their company and eventually created his own technique and group and went on to create his masterworks. His large size, handsome appearance and powerful masculine style made him a commanding performer.

There was no one like him on stage. He had come in 1915 to New York to study painting but his first experience with seeing dance changed his life. He became a majestic figure on stage and a choreographer with works of depth, humanity and reverence. His technique is unmistakable, powerful, musical and reverential.

The Limón season, Program A included a new work by former member of the company, Clay Taliaferro, who created "Into my Heart's House," as a premiere tribute with the style, humor and humanity of his mentor and "Rooms" a 1955 riveting work by Anna Sokolow, a dance pioneer who was outspoken on the social issues of her time. The work, presented on a bare stage with a chair for each of the dancers, who act out their panic, desire, or daydream remain alone in the room of their thoughts. It was a milestone work at its inception, disturbing and under Jim May's current faithful reconstruction, just as powerful a vehicle for each dancer, especially Roxanne D'Orleans Juste, now an associate artistic director of the company and a twenty-five year member.

The second program of the company at the Joyce Theater, December 2-7, presented Limón classics: a suite from "Choreographic Offering," "The Traitor," and his signature piece, "The Moor's Pavane." "Offering" to the music of Bach's "A Musical Offering," is a joyous piece that displays Limón's craft, skill and inventiveness; "The Traitor," (1954), staged by Talioferro, could be any traitor from Biblical to modern times, with resultant scenes of torment and retribution. Francisco Ruvalcaba, as the traitor, and as The Moor in the following "Moor's Pavane," comes closest to portraying the choreographer's own image as well as his own interpretation.

A word must be said about Artistic Director, Carla Maxwell, who was a performer in the company from 1965 and director since 1978. There is a vast difference between someone who "stages" a work from film, tape or notation "in the style of" and a director, like Maxwell, who recreates the work as a former member of the company and who holds the pulse of the creator as a guide. This is a superbly trained and directed group unlike so many companies that have lost their original director and lost their way.

The José Limón Dance Foundation, has received many honors over the years, most recently, the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest award given by the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. This centennial year, the company honored modern dance artists: Ernestine Stodelle, Mary Anthony and Patricia Nanon, founder of The
Yard, a haven for creativity and experimentation.

For more information, see José Limón's, "An Unfinished Memoir," Wesleyan University Press, and "The Illustrated Dance Technique of José Limón" by Daniel Lewis, a former member of the company and now director of the dance department at the New World School of the Arts in Miami and www.limon.org.
'Moor's Pavane' with Carla Maxwell

"Moor's Pavane" with Carla Maxwell

Photo © & courtesy of Unknown

José Limón

José Limón

Photo © & courtesy of Unknown

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