One of modern dance’s greatest male dancers and choreographers, José Limón (1908-1972) was influenced by his early life 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 (based on the poem by Federico García-Lorca) as the centerpiece of his first program. This was also the first dance he performed at the Pillow, and his solos from Lament were filmed here two weeks after the premiere. Later appearances often included Limón’s masterpiece, The Moor’s Pavane. Among those influenced by Limón are former students such as Garth Fagan and Lar Lubovitch, as well as a later generation of dancers who have performed with The Limón Dance Company, including Doug Varone.
FOR MORE ON JOSE LIMON AND HIS MEXICAN HERITAGE, READ J. SOTO’S REFLECTIONS ON JOSE LIMON.