José Limón at the Joyce

José Limón Dance Company. May 12th at the Joyce Theater.

José Limón presented quite a different program tonight than they did last year.

Both the opening and closing work were longer in length, and each featured a distinct theme drawn from real world inspirations. “The Unsung, The Body Is a House Without Walls” pays homage to the Native Americans. The piece is powerful and does not have any accompanying music. The only sound comes from the dancers hitting the floor. “Missa Brevis” featuring more than two dozen dancers tells the story of the human spirit overcoming hardships at the end of WWII.

The Exiles by José Limón

The José Limón Dance Company wrapped up the Contemporary Dance festival at Bryant Park tonight.

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.

Bravos to Mark Willis and Savannah Spratt for the wonderful performance!

“The Exiles”
Choreographer: José Limón
Dancers: Savannah Spratt and Mark Willis of the José Limón Dance Company
Photographer: Jason Chuang

Your Courage from José Limón

“To the young I say: Do not for an instant abandon that most indispensable asset of the artist, your courage.” — José Limón

Went back to see the amazing José Limón Dance Company for a second time this week at the Joyce Theatre.

Love the new version of “The Exiles” by Savannah Spratt and David Glista with live singers and music composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov. I interpreted the story in a whole different way, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. “Concerto Grosso” and “A Choreographic Offering” are both beautiful with a different set of lead dancers. My favorite goes to the solo by Brenna Monroe-Cook (Wednesday) and Logan Frances Kruger (tonight). “Night Light” is still incredible.

Random thought: The closing scene of “A Choreograph Offering” reminded me of Paul Taylor’s “Brandenburgs”. Despite moving with more subtle and measured gestures, I felt the Limón dancers actually projected greater energy. Expressing more with less, such is the fascinating language of dance!!

José Limón Dance Company

Wow’ed by José Limón Dance Company at the Joyce Theater tonight.

There’s so much life in José Limón’s work.

On top of the full range of emotions expressed by the dances, the physical delivery is also mesmerizing. Contrasts between powerful percussions (full company stomping the floor) and subtle gestures (a flick of the wrist). Sudden shifts from dynamic motions to perfect stillness. Yet, in between these extremes, everything blends together into a beautiful story.

My favorites are the strength and tenderness found in “A Choreographic Offering”, the elegance and beauty in “Concerto Grosso”, and also Kate Weare’s contemporary work “Night Light” where everything flows so smoothly.

In the post-show conversation, Kristen Foote answered an audience question why she became a dancer: “Dance gives back. Dance is revelatory. The most rewarding part of surrendering herself to dance, is that she discovered herself.”