BWW Reviews: Jose Limon Dance Company Still Inspires at Baruch Performing Arts After 67 Years
At the beginning of the program I was notified that The Moor's Pavane, Limon's 1949 masterpeiece was recently restaged and performed by four different companies around the world in two months! Inspired by Shakespeare's Othello, this dance is highly dramatic; the use of exaggerated postures effectively communicates the emotional life of the four characters. Limon uses the Pavane and other dances of the high Renaissance to tell this legend and tragedy of "Everyman." It is a wonderful fun piece to sink your teeth into as a viewer because the dancers' acting skills are put to the test. Even if you are unfamiliar with the plot of Othello, you know you are witnessing a tragedy. A slice of dance history with its period costumes, eye candy and gender specific movement, this piece isn't to be missed by any fan of American modern dance.
The gender specific choreography in both Limon pieces reflects the choreographer's interest in earlier time periods. The women often dance lightly, softly and curvaceously while the men dance with intensity, line and virtuosity. These qualities were juxtaposed against the last piece on the bill, Come With Me, with choreography by Rodrigo Pederneiras and music by Paquito D'Rivera, which premiered in 2012. This dance, reminiscent of Irish step dancing and performed by men and women, was very lively and fast, with exciting footwork and minimal arm gestures. The floor patterns drawn by the dancers were more obvious as they drew diagonals, boxes and rectangles, making me appreciate Limon's more all encompassing use of space. In fairness this may have been an intentional choice, for everything about this piece was stylistically less organic and almost inhuman. While the music was dynamic, Latin and sexual, it appeared disconnected from emotion and sensuousness, quite different from what this type of music normally evokes. None the less the older women in front of me where quite horrified by the same sex partnering even though it wasn't at all suggestive. The company looked like they were enjoying the challenging movement, and it was exciting to see the seasoned Limon dancers speaking in another language.
Photo credit: "Come With Me" Rosalie O'Connor