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Limon

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Did anyone else go to see the Limon company at the Kennedy Center last week? I saw them for the first time on Friday - it was very interesting to see after only seeing photos of the company from the early days in various dance books. I have to say that I preferred some of the newer works, although "Psalm" was a little on the long side.

I was really looking forward to seeing "The Moor's Pavane", since the photos that I'd seen of that piece looked so dramatic. Seeing the piece made me wonder what it must have been like to see Limon himself perform it - what was the level of theatricality then vs. now? I thought it was well done, but one of the men was not very dramatic (I thought), and I got the sense that it didn't have the same feeling that it have had at one time? It speaks to a larger question that I'm sure people have discussed here before - have dancers/companies lost dramatic capability over the years in the quest for technical perfection? Or have audiences lost the ability to recognize it? Or both? (I'm not saying that none of the Limon dancers were dramatic - one woman in particular was very expressive (Kristin Foote?), as well as the central character in Psalm, and the dancer who played The Moor).

Anyway - did anyone else see them?

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I couldn't go, unfortunately, Boots -- thanks for posting this. I was told by two friends who did go that they were disappointed in "The Moor's Pavane" as well, except for the Friend's Wife. So you weren't alone. (They liked the rest, though.)

There should be a review in the Post today. I'm short of time now, but will try to find it and post it later.

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Does anyone know what the Limon Dance Company is up to these days? They did a short season in California in January but, to my knowledge, nothing since. I check the Web site from time-to-time but it doesn't look like there are any performances scheduled until summer (at Kaatsbaan in upstate NY) and fall (at The Joyce). Anyone have any information?

Edited by miliosr

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FYI -- The Limon Company will be performing at Kaatsbaan in Tivoli, NY on 06/26 at 7:30 pm and 06/27 at 2:30 pm.

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I attended the Limon Company's performance at Kaatsbaan on June 26th.

The program began with Carla Maxwell making brief remarks to the sold-out audience about the first two pieces on the program: Etude (2002) and Chaconne (1942). Maxwell explained that she developed Etude as a kind of introduction to Jose Limon's movement themes (the program notes cited Psalm and Dances for Isadora as the primary inspirations.) Kristen Foote performed the dance well-enough and it served its purpose as a gentle introduction to Limon.

Things took a major step up with Roxane D'Orleans Juste's performance of Chaconne. I thought this was a beautiful dance and she performed it to the hilt. Strangely enough, with her costume and pulled-back hair, she reminded me of Limon, even though they couldn't be more dissimilar in their body types.

Carla Maxwell returned for another brief introduction of the next two dances on the program: The Unsung (1970) and Extreme Beauty (2004 - sneak preview). She mentioned how she had commissioned Susanne Linke to develop a dance for the Limon women that would be a companion piece to the all-male The Unsung.

I have to say that The Unsung blew me away. I had never seen it before but I was awed by the sheer movement invention in this dance. The seven Limon men were extraordinary in this. It's said that ABT has the strongest contingent of male dancers anywhere but I have to say that, based on what I saw, the Limon Company's male dancers are in a sterling condition at the moment.

At this point, it was time for the intermission and a little star-watching - Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel were in the house!

OK - on to Extreme Beauty. I'll try not to be too harsh on this as Carla Maxwell said this was a "work in progress". That being said, I had a number of objections to this piece and they are fairly severe. First, it was far too long with too many dead stretches where nothing of great interest happened. (Someone might want to remind Susanne Linke of Doris Humphrey's maxim: "All dances are too long")

My second objection is that the dance took FOREVER to get going. The dancers started out at the back of the stage and took interminable baby steps toward the audience. Then they walked to the back of the stage and repeated this same sequence all over again! Linke lost the audience right there.

The third objection I had is that the first three (of four) sections contained in the dance were insufficiently differentiated from one another. I had a hard time distinguishing these sections (listed in the program as The Burden, Flying Eros and The Initiation.) The music, by Gyorgy Kurtag and Salvatore Sciarrino, was no help as it provided no helpful clues as to what differentiated the sections.

Having said all that, I quite liked the fourth section - Extreme Beauties. Through a series of stage actions, Roxane D'Orleans Juste comes to wear a makeshift wedding gown and the other dancers don spherical bridesmaid skirts and proceed to engage in a frenzied, patterned dance until the dance comes to its conclusion. I quite liked this part and can only hope that Linke will expand on this section of the dance.

To be fair to Linke, though, there was loud applause from some members of the audience at the conclusion of the dance and I overheard one member of the audience proclaiming it "brilliant" on the way out. So there you go!

Overall, I very much enjoyed the Limon dances and dancers. I would have liked to have seen a Humphrey piece on the program but that was a minor quibble. I give full marks to Carla Maxwell for maintaining the Limon repertory in such excellent condition.

Edited by miliosr

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Thank you for that, miliosr! (I wish they'd do more Humphrey, too -- I've seen so little of it live.) But I agree with you that the Limon company is one living example that it is possible to maintain a repertory.

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Here's a link

http://www.danceviewtimes.com/dvw/reviews/...r/sfbgala1.html

to a picture of "The Unsung" and a short notice I wrote for Dance view West last fall.

I totally agree with you, Miliosr, that hte Limon men look as great as any men in the world in this ballet -- and it's at least in part because the choreography is so extraordinary, and they dance it with such care and devotion. I'd recommend it to anybody

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Based on what I saw at Kaatsbaan, I would have to say that the Limon Company is a success story in terms of preserving its Limon repertory (and the Humphrey/Limon technique more generally.)

It's a pity the company doesn't get more credit/mention in the dance press for their achievement. I would prefer reading about a heritage company that has maintained its artistic inheritance at a very high level to reading endless, repetitive attacks on companies that (allegedly) haven't (i.e. NYCB and the Balanchine repertory.)

I suppose the relative absence of press scrutiny may work to the company's advantage in that they can go about their business without getting emeshed in the kind of debates that have engulfed other companies.

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I'm glad to hear that the company is looking well -- they've certainly been grappling with the challenge of living beyond your founder longer than many other institutions.

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Per sandik's point, Deborah Jowitt wrote about the "survival after death" experience in the New York Times in 1998. Here's the relevant quote as it pertains to the Limon Dance Company:

These companies might well take heart from the example of the Jose Limon Dance Company: hanging in there can pay off. Twenty-six years after the death of its founder, the company is healthier than it was during the latter part of his life, in good part because of smart decisions by Ms. Maxwell, a strong staff that includes Mark Jones, executive director; Norton Owen, the institute director, and Donald McKayle, artistic mentor and resident choreographer, plus a collegial atmosphere. After paying off a deficit that Mr. Jones refers to as "horrific," the company has operated in the black for five years. Recently, prestigious grants have come its way. Presenters who believed (correctly) that post-modernism had passed Limon by and (incorrectly) that the repertory must be old-fashioned are coming around. The company has bookings through 2001. The 1997-98 season gives the dancers 37 weeks of work.

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Here are the two programs from the Limon Dance Company's upcoming season (September 21-October 3) at The Joyce:

Program A:

The Unsung (Limon)

Extreme Beauty (Susanne Linke) (world premiere)

Concerto Six Twenty-Two (Lar Lubovitch) (company premiere)

Program B:

Evening Song (Jiri Kylian)

Chaconne (Limon)

Angelitos Negros (Donald McKayle) (company premiere)

Phantasy Quintet (Adam Hougland)

Psalm (Limon)

While I admire how they've morphed into a true modern dance repertory company, I guess I'm puzzled at the absence of anything by Doris Humphrey. (And it looks like they're giving "The Moor's Pavane" a rest as well.)

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Thanks for posting that -- it really is a modern dance repertory. If not quite a switch, then a sharp right (or left, or whatever) turn.

I've wondered about the lack of Humphrey dances, too. I would love to see more of that repertory live.

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Here's a fuller schedule of Limon performances and a TV special (!!!!)

LIMON DANCE COMPANY - ON STAGE AND TV IN SEPTEMBER

September 3 - SHOWING AT SUNY PURCHASE AT 5 pm (TBC)

Program: Evening Songs, Chaconne, Angelitos Negros, Concerto

Six Twenty-Two

September 9 - SHOWING AT JUILLIARD AT 6 pm (invited audience)

Program: Evening Songs, Dance in the Sun, Concerto Six Twenty

Two

September 11 - 9/11 PERFORMANCE IN BATTERY PARK AT 8 PM

September 15 - LIMON DOCUMENTARY ON PBS AT 8 PM

September 25 - LIMON DOCUMENTARY ON PBS AT 5 PM

September 21-October 3 - 2 WEEK SEASON AT THE JOYCE

Program A

The Unsung (Limon)

Extreme Beauty (Linke/Kurtag and Sciarrino) World Premiere

Concerto Six Twenty-Two (Lubovitch/Mozart) Company Premiere

(Program A will be performed September 21 at 8 PM; September 22 at

8 PM; September 25 at 2 PM; September 26 at 7:30 PM; September

29 at 8 PM; October 1 at 8 PM; October 2 at 8 PM; October 3 at 2 PM)

Program B

Evening Songs (Kylian/Dvorak) Major Revival

Chaconne (Limon/Bach) (performed with live music)

Angelitos Negros (McKayle) Company Premiere

September 23, 25, 28 at 8 PM; October 2 at 2 PM; October 3 at

7:30 PM (alternates with)

Dance in the Sun (Nagrin/Gilbert) Company Premiere - live music

September 24 at 8 PM; September 26 at 2 PM; September 30

at 8 PM

Phantasy Quintet (Hougland/Vaughn Williams) (live music)

Psalm (Limon/Magnussen)

Program B will be performed September 23, 24, 25 at 8 PM;

September 26 at 2 PM; September 28 & 30 at 8 PM; October 2 at

2 PM; October 3 at 7:30 PM

September 22 - Pre-Performance Reception - A Celebration of Extreme

Beauty

September 29 - Joyce "Humanities" program post performance

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It looks like my local public television station won't be broadcasting the Limon special. :(

For anyone in the Florida area, the Limon company will be making the following appearances in January:

Jan. 14-15 - Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, FL

Jan. 18-19 - Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, Key West, FL

Jan. 21-22 - Duncan Theater, Lake Worth, FL

Jan. 23 - King Center for the Performing Arts, Melbourne, FL

Jan. 25 - Branscomb Auditorium, Lakeland, FL

And I'm STILL puzzled by the absence of any Humphrey pieces during the Joyce season!

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