Performing Arts: Dance
October 23, 2015
Applied Materials Foundation supported the journey of sjDanceco from San Jose, California to perform Mazurkas in Jose Limon Dance Company’s 70th anniversary at The Joyce Theatre. First performed in 1958, Limon’s Mazurkas, performed to Chopin’s piano music played live by Michael Cherry, begins with an innocent folk dance. The short dances are pleasant, but Limon’s signature style shines through when the men of sjDanceco dance, particularly when Gabriel Mata danced Opus 17, No. 4 with sculptural finesse and poignancy.

Besides sjDanceco formed by two former Limon Dancers - Fred Matthews and Gary Masters, nine university dance departments also participated in Limon’s Joyce season, along with American Repertory Ballet, CoreoArte, and Royal Danish Ballet as per Artistic Director Carla Maxwell’s mission to celebrate the Limon legacy. Fourteen works, created over 30 years, were performed in six programs, with Limon Dance Company performing at least one dance per program.

While we sit in the dark, a woman screams, and then cries "Maximilian!" The lights reveal a cloaked woman hunched in a high backed chair. A loving pas de deux between the hoop skirted empress and he emperor dressed in red regalia is interrupted by the arrival of a black, business suited expressionless figure accompanied by 4 minions in indigenous garb who dance with percussive unity.

With great formality, a coup, completed with a firing squad, throws Carlota literally into a tailspin. It's a silent, emotionally graphic work with characters drawn in bold strokes. As a member of the modern dance community that rebelled against the fairy tales underscoring classic ballet, the Mexican born Limon embraced the art of telling stories of the heart, torn by real events. Carlota, named for the wife of the murdered Mexican Emperor Maximilian, was Limon’s last dance.

“I have great pity for these unhappy human beings,” said Limon, “and for the anguish of spirit which they must experience and the torment in which they must live. And when I feel something keenly, I have to make a dance about it.”

Norman Dello Joio’s music perfectly frames There is A Time, an ensemble work for 10-16 dancers performed for this occasion by American Repertory Ballet from New Jersey. Staged by Sarah Stackhouse, this wholesome dance inspired by the text from Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, and was first performed April 20, 1956 at The Juilliard School of Music. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers

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