BWW Reviews: Limon Dance Company at The Joyce Theater
What does a dance company do when its founder and visionary dies? While some leave with succession plans in place, this question still troubles many prominent dance companies. While they might chose to only perform their namesake's original works, they risk being labeled as irrelevant. If the company chooses to continue to perform new work, they must walk the tightrope of finding choreography that is congruent with the company's repertoire but also new and interesting.
Jose Limón was undeniably an important figure in the history of modern dance. He founded the Limón Dance Company in 1946 and created over 70 works. Limón's legacy is the Limón technique, which focuses on the importance of breath as well as the interplay between weight and weightlessness. Limón technique is still taught today and is an important part of the modern dance cannon.
In The Limón Dance Company's current season at The Joyce Theater, they performed two works by Limón himself, Mazurkas and Psalm. Mazurkas was a playful and fun work that poked fun at ballet. Jokes started small with a dancer performing a beautiful classical leap with pointed toes and arms in fifth en haut but with hands flexed outward. Limón also weaves in larger comments such as when a group of male dancers perform a powerful leap while punching the sky serving as a comment on ballet's gender norms. Mazurkas featured live music resulting in a true collaboration between the pianist and the dancers. Psalm took a contrasting in tone by focusing on religion-both an individual's struggle with faith and herd mentality that can be present in organized religion. While Psalm did not provide any unique insights into this subject and bordered on cliché (a male dancer is lifted into the shape of a cross near the end), it served as an excellent vehicle for the dancers' skills and artistry. Both pieces were very enjoyable to watch.