Limon Dance to Perform MISSA BREVIS This May at Joyce Theater

Limon Dance to Perform MISSA BREVIS This May at Joyce Theater

A highlight of the Limón Dance Company's May 8-13 Joyce Theater season will be a revival of José Limón's "MISSA BREVIS," recognized as one of his masterpieces. The work will be set by Kristen Foote, with additional coaching by Clay Taliaferro. The program will also feature by "The Unsung," a Limón work with an all-male cast; a new dance for all women by artistic director Colin Connor; and three new duets by young dancemakers commissioned by the Company.

The Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodaly composed the Missa Brevis in Tempore Belli in 1945, at the end of World War II. A Mass in time of war, the work was completed under great hardship during the siege of Budapest. Though Kodály's home was devastated, his manuscripts were later recovered intact, and the music's first performance was given in the cellar of a bombed-out church in Budapest.

José Limón's towering work was premiered April 11, 1958 at the Juilliard School, NYC, with original costume and set design by Ming Cho Lee. Following its premiere, dance writer Lillian Moore wrote: "It has been a long time since the modern dance has produced a work so profoundly stirring, and so exalting. This is the song of a strong and simple people, a song of thanksgiving for deliverance from the unspeakable horrors of war. Its dances express a deep awareness of the wonder of life, and the transcendent joy at its resumption, yet every passage is heavy with the memory of unutterable suffering and irreparable loss. What cannot be spoken can be danced, and here the movement seems to spring directly from the heart. The entire ensemble seems swayed by one mass emotion. There is not a single decorative flourish; every movement seems necessary, beautiful, and right.....It revives one's belief in the nobility of the dance as a universal language."

"Missa Brevis" has been performed by the Limón Dance Company in venues around the world, and has been staged for the Royal Swedish Ballet, the National Institute of Fine Arts Academy of Dance in Mexico City, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, UCLA, London Contemporary Dance School, and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.
photo by Missa Brevis by Scott Groeller

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