Performing Arts: Dance
October 18, 2015
Seven decades of modern dance is quite a feat, and one that Jose Limon’s company carries well upon its two-week return to The Joyce Theater for the Limon International Dance Festival. Over the course of six programs, 14 of the late choreographer’s masterworks are highlighted, performed by his own company as well as 7 other dance companies and 8 dance schools worldwide. By its very inclusive nature, this festival is a testament to the staying power of Limon’s work within the dance world today.

Program A features three classics, truly showing a range in style. Opening with “Mazurkas,” there is certainly an antiquated feel present though the work’s essence – the movement – remains relatable. Presented in series of vignettes, the work is noted as being originally inspired by a 1957 visit to Poland in which Limon was taken with the heroic spirit of its people. The music, by Frederic Chopin, is performed live by pianist Michael Cherry.

Each solo, duet, and trio that waltzes on to the stage takes on a different emotion and accompanying movement style. Some rely on an organic fluidity and softness, while others feature audible stomps and accentuated motions of the head and feet. Perhaps here, more than in any other work of the evening, we can see the nuanced musicality of Limon’s choreography come to life through the dancers’ performance.

Limon’s iconic “The Moor’s Pavane” (1949) follows, replacing the originally programmed “The Exiles.” Though not an entirely narrative work, it draws from Shakespeare’s “Othello” by honing in on the tale’s driving emotions and conflicts. The four dancers - Francisco Ruvalcaba (the Moor), Durrell Comedy (his Friend), Kathryn Alter (His Friend’s wife), and Logan Kruger (The Moor’s Wife) - demonstrate particular comfort throughout the array of Renaissance dances and dramatic encounters.

Closing the evening was “Missa Brevis,” a 1958 work that offers a glimpse into Limon’s true dynamic power as choreographer. Performed by the Limon Dance Company, guest dancers, and PSP2, the work begins in a huddled cluster center stage; a man dressed in black stays off to the side as Zoltan Kodaly’s chanting music calls for the others to slowly shift in place.

In muted outfits, the ensemble comes together and breaks away time and again, acting as a chorus of sorts. They peel in and away from one another and ripple through movement phrases while some shoot upwards emerging as a momentary individual from within the masses. The energy of this intricately layered work evolves into an unmistakable sense of resilience by its end.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY –- Jenny Thompson

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