Chicago's Luna Negra Dance Theater rolled into Madison's Overture Center last night as part of their tenth anniversary tour.
The first work on the bill was Jose Limon's There Is a Time, his treatment of Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven"
"A time to be born, and a time to die"
"A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted"
"A time to kill, and a time to heal"
"A time to break down, and a time to build up"
"A time to keep silent, and a time to speak"
"A time to mourn, and a time to weep"
"A time to laugh . . . a time to dance"
"A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing"
"A time to hate, a time of war"
"A time to love . . . a time of peace"
The dance begins with the entire company assembled in a circle, gently swaying and breathing as one. The dancers break the circle and then a series of variations commence in which the dancers illustrate the various passages in Ecclesiastes. Within each variation, however, the main theme -- that of the circle and, by extension, the passage of time -- reasserts itself time and again. The dance concludes with the entire troupe reforming the circle and becoming one despite the trials and tribulations contained within the dance.
I had never seen this work of Limon's before and it impressed me greatly. There are many strong sections to There Is a Time but my favorites were the opening and concluding segments -- the dancers moving as one within the circle (without breaking it) was breathtaking. So, so beautiful.
The interesting thing about There Is a Time is that an audience member can either watch it for the theme (Ecclesiastes) or as an abstract work. The variations are beautiful enough that they don't require any knowledge of or sympathy with Ecclesiastes to enjoy them.
Unfortunately, as I was laboring under a bad head cold last night, I left after There Is a Time and missed the next two works on the bill. It was either "go home and get healthy" or "stay and need an iron lung the next day". The loss was mine as I would very much like to see this company in other pieces. Recommended!
Luna Negra Dance TheaterPerforming Jose Limon's There Is a Time
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