I saw “The Exiles” twice at the Joyce Theatre earlier this year, but it took me until the second viewing to fully appreciate the piece. I’m so glad to watch it again.
Centered around a couple, the choreography tells the couple’s story in two movements, “The Flight” and “The Remembrance.” At the beginning, the couple walk onto the stage arms around each other’s back, alternating between making brave strides forward and taking tentative but necessary steps to continue their journey. Immigrants arriving in a new land, perhaps? Or maybe refugees who cannot look back? In any case, we follow the couple in this foreign land as they take on new identities, become momentarily euphoric, only to struggle again. Eventually, the couple shed their shells, their exterior pretense, and finally find their true selves. As they across the stage again, their strides are higher, braver, and ever more confident.
Well, that’s how I translated Limón’s language anyways.
The piece is as relevant to my own expat existence in New York City this evening, as it is to the plights of millions back in 1950 when the piece was first created, as it is to millions around the world now. And that, capturing the essence of our lives and our everyday experiences, is what I find to be the magic of José Limón.
Choreographer: José Limón
Dancers: Savannah Spratt and Mark Willis of the José Limón Dance Company
Photographer: Jason Chuang