José Limón (1908-1972) was a pivotal figure in the evolution of modern dance, praised by the New York Times as “the greatest male dancer of his own or any other time.” In November Chicago’s acclaimed Luna Negra Dance Theater, which is dedicated to the work of Latino choreographers, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Limón’s birth with a concert recreating his iconic There is a Time.
The performance, part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS Series, will begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8. Tickets are $32; $28 seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; and $20 for students and children. Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. Edison Theatre is located in the Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
For more information, call (314) 935-6543 or email Edison@wustl.edu.
Founded in 1999 by the Cuban-born choreographer Eduardo Vilaro, Luna Negra Dance Theater blends ballet and modern dance with contemporary Latino and Afro-Caribbean forms. The company’s repertory includes original works by Vilaro as well as by acclaimed choreographers Ron DeJesus, Vicente Nebrada, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Pedro Ruiz and others. The company has performed at major festivals and toured throughout the United States, Panama and Mexico.
Limón was born in Mexico in 1908 but as a boy resettled in the United States, his family having fled the Mexican Revolution. He briefly studied art at UCLA but in 1928 moved to New York City and, after seeing his first dance program, began studying (and soon performing) with choreographers Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. In 1938 Limón choreographed his first major work, Danzas Mexicanas. and in 1946, after a stint in the U.S. Army, established the Limón Dance Company, which remains dedicated to his repertory.
Frequently based on Mexican, literary and biblical themes, Limón’s choreography embraces natural movement patterns while also pairing seemingly opposed physical properties: rising and falling, lightness and weight, isolation and communion.
There is a Time, which debuted in 1956, was inspired by Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, which famously reads, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…” Set to music by Norman Dello Joio, the piece opens with 12 dancers (symbolizing the book’s 12 chapters) gathered together in a loose circle. As the dance progresses, the circle is continually broken and reformed, the community maintained even as its members pass from birth through life and finally death.
Also on the program is Batucada Fantastica (1977), a rollicking homage to the Brazilian Carnival by the late Venezuelan choreographer Vicente Nebrada (1930-2002). Set to steel drums, whistles and other traditional Brazilian instruments, the piece consists of eight dramatic solos that culminate in a riotous ensemble.
The evening concludes with Deshár Alhát (Leave Sunday) (2008), a new work by Vilaro, which explores the mixture of Spanish, Moorish and Jewish influences that form Ladino (sometimes called “Judeo-Spanish”) culture. Inspired by the lush music and rich history of Sephardic Jewish communities that settled in Latin America in the early 20th century, the piece creates a haunting tableaux of loss and disappearance.
Founded in 1973, the Edison Theatre OVATIONS Series serves both Washington University and the St. Louis community by providing the highest caliber national and international artists in music, dance and theater, performing new works as well as innovative interpretations of classical material not otherwise seen in St. Louis.
Edison Theatre programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors. The OVATIONS Season is supported by The Mid-America Arts Alliance with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
There is a Time was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces: Dance Initiative, administered by the New England Foundation of the Arts.
WHO: Luna Negra Dance Theater
WHAT: Dance concert
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8
WHERE: Edison Theatre, Washington University, Mallinckrodt Student Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
TICKETS: $32; $28 for seniors and Washington University faculty and staff; $22 for students. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets
SPONSOR: Edison Theatre OVATIONS Series