One of modern dance’s greatest male dancers and choreographers, José Limón (1908-1972) was indelibly shaped by his childhood in Mexico. After early studies as a visual artist, he was inspired by attending a dance performance by Harald Kreutzberg at the age of twenty, and he promptly enrolled in the studio of Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. His gift for movement was obvious from the start, and he began performing and choreographing soon after his first dance class. When he formed his own company in 1946, Doris Humphrey served as the group’s artistic director and created Lament for Ignacio Sánchez Mejías as the centerpiece of his first program. This was also the first dance he performed at the Pillow, followed just a few weeks later by his presentation of two solos including Chaconne. The film seen here was made two years later on the stage of the Ted Shawn Theatre with Limón in rehearsal clothes, shot from behind with the large stage doors open. Later appearances by the Limón Company often included his masterpiece, The Moor’s Pavane. Following his death, the company has presented works by dozens of other choreographers, including Colin Connor and Olivier Tarpaga.
FOR MORE ON JOSE LIMON AND HIS MEXICAN HERITAGE, READ J. SOTO’S REFLECTIONS ON JOSE LIMON.