REPERTORY

A Choreographic Offering

Traditional cast: 12 – 24 dancers
12 – 58 minutes
A Joyful and kaleidoscopic tapestry of community, celebrating Limón’s mentor, Doris Humphrey.
A luscious spontaneity…This was alive. Gia Kourlas, The New York Times
Premiere date: 1964 – American Dance Festival
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach

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Chaconne

Traditional cast: Male Solo
Can be performed by a woman, in a relay format with 3 – 5 dancers or with a group.
10 minutes
With Chaconne, part of the intensity we feel is watching the performer rising to the challenge of form.
Perfect with Bach’s Chaconne just as Limón asked: The music must come out of your body. Monica Klein, Rheinische Post, Germany
Premiere date:  1941 – Humphrey-Weidman Theater
Music: Johann Sebastian Bach 

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Concerto Grosso 

Traditional Cast: 1 male & 2 females
Possible for 9: 3 males, 6 females
13 minutes
Limón at his most classical, showing a world of grace and power, where time unfolds with drive and warmth.
He took his place unquestionably as one of the important artists in contemporary dance. The New York Times at Concerto Grosso’s premiere
Premiere date: 1945 – Humphrey-Weidman Theater
Music: Antonio Vivaldi

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Dances for Isadora

Traditional Cast: 5 female solos
20 minutes
Emotionally and musically rich, a celebration of the power of women dancing, and of America’s dance legacy. These are wonderful challenges and opportunities to grow artistically for special young female dancers.    
Lushly musical with the Chopin piano music, this wonderfully diverse set of five solos evoke aspects and periods of the life of Isadora Duncan whom Limón regarded as his “dance mother.”
Premiere date: 1971 – Cleveland Museum of Arts
Music: Frederic Chopin

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The Emperor Jones 

Traditional cast: 8 males
24 minutes
Based on the classic Eugene O’Neill play, this dance elaborates on the play’s central theme of the superstitious terror of the self-appointed emperor. The dance does not attempt to adhere to the play’s sequence, seeking instead to give another dimension and create dramatic and powerful theater. 

Premiere date: 1956 – Empire State Music Festival
Music: Hector Villa-Lobos

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The Exiles

Traditional cast: 1 male & 1 female
18 minutes
The Exiles is a duet that carries a powerful emotional world. It is a story of the expulsion from Eden. It is a story of immigrants to the United States. It is a story of refugees. It is every story of leaving behind the familiar and venturing into the unknown.
The contrast between their physical strength and their helplessness was shattering” Dance View Times, 2017
Not only powerful but showing an enormous range of emotions: exhaustion, confusion, shame, utter devotion to each other, fear and vigilance. Their off-kilter leaps and turns, and their intricate duets were pure passion, embodying Arnold Schoenberg’s beautiful Chamber Symphony No. 2.” Susan L. Pena, Reading Eagle, 2017
Premier date: 1950 – American Dance Festival
Music: Arnold Schoenberg

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La Malinche 

Traditional cast: 2 males & 1 female
16 minutes
This trio, which premiered in 1949, was the first work Limón created for his own company. It is a product of Limón’s childhood memories of Mexican fiestas, which climaxed with performances celebrating local history and tradition, and has three characters: Malinche, El Conquistador, and El Indio.
Premiere date: 1947 – Jordan Hall
Music: Norman Lloyd

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Mazurkas

Traditional cast: 3 males & 4 females
20 – 40 minutes
A tribute to the heroic spirit of the Polish people, the work was created in 1958 for three men and four women. Mazurkas was restaged in 1985 for five women and four men, and consists of five solos, three duets, a men’s trio, a women’s quartet, and several group dances.
Premiere date: 1958 – American Dance Festival
Music: Frederic Chopin

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Missa Brevis

Traditional cast: 10 – 22 dancers
40 minutes
Limón’s powerful choreography is a memento to human resilience and the cities destroyed during WWII. The score is written for mixed chorus and organ, and the Company often performs the work with live music in monumental spaces such as Riverside Church in New York City and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.
(Missa Brevis) moved the company into the front ranks of American dance, a spot it deserved then, and deserves now.”  Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice, June 2018
What could be more relevant today, than this anti-war masterpiece…” Robert Johnson, Dance Enthusiast, June 2018
Premiere date: 1958 The Juilliard School
Music: Zoltán Kodály

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The Moor’s Pavane 

Traditional cast: 2 males & 2 females
21 minutes
The most well-known of Limón’s works, The Moor’s Pavane has been in the Company’s repertory since its creation in 1949. Based on the tale of Othello, it has been performed by numerous companies, including American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Nureyev and Friends, Paris Opera Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, and Royal Swedish Ballet.
A choreographic masterpiece” Gus Solomons jr, Solomonsays
Lean and powerful, it stands the test of time.” Sheila Kogan, Theater Scene
I felt that I was once again reminded of the importance of dance art.” Kathryn Boland, Dance Informa
Premiere date: 1949 – American Dance Festival
Music: Henry Purcell (arranged by Simon Sadoff)

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Orfeo 

Traditional cast: 1 male & 4 females
18 minutes
One of Limón’s final works, this lyrical lament of love and loss is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Premiere date: 1972 – Anta Theatre
Music: Ludwig von Beethoven

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Psalm

Traditional cast: 11 – 16 dancers
16 – 30 minutes
Recreated in 2002 by Carla Maxwell. Weaving together belief, ritual and history, Psalm is a stunning choreographic achievement, combining powerful ensemble dancing with extraordinary solo work.
Elating… Limón knew how to sculpt the stage with movement… Wonderful to see…Psalm’s suspensions, glides, and the staccato changes elicit our participation. Even as we sit, we breathe with the dancers.” Christine Jowers, Dance Enthusiast, 2019
Unison passages in tight formations are strikingly synchronized and the quick leaping patterns dynamically devour space.” Gus Solomons jr, Solomonsays
Premiere date: 1967 – American Dance Festival
Music: Jon Magnussen

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Scherzo 

Traditional cast: 4 males
11 minutes
This energetic, athletic dance for four men and a drum tossed between them is a compelling exploration of rhythm and movement. In moments when the percussion score stops, the movement—the beats the men create on their bodies—becomes the music.
Premiere date: 1955 – American Dance Festival
Music: Hazel Johnson

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Symphony for Strings

Traditional cast: 2 males & 2 females
Reconstructed under the direction of Ann Vachon for a workshop in 1995, this abstract, yet deeply emotional work has not been publicly performed since 1955.
Premiere date: 1955 – American Dance Festival
Music: William Schumann

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There is a Time

Traditional cast: 10 – 16 dancers
35 minutes
Originally titled Variations on a Theme, this 1956 masterpiece alludes to a chapter of Ecclesiastes and its evocation of the human experience. Limón himself made several choreographic revisions in his lifetime, including a version for 16 dancers.
Premiere date: 1956 – The Juilliard School
Music: Norman Dello Joio

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The Traitor

Traditional cast: 8 males
20 minutes
The Traitor, one of modern dance’s most significant works of the 1950s, was José Limón’s response to the McCarthy hearings and the climate of betrayal that haunted the arts and entertainment fields during this period. Against Gunther Schuller’s musical score of violence, passion, and tenderness, the tragedy of Judas and the theme of betrayal are eloquently portrayed. Created for eight men, the work has also been performed by a mixed gender cast. With wonderfully vibrant movement, lush musicality and haunting images, this presently relevant work illuminates how we can betray ourselves and our beliefs, and what that can do to each of us. 
Premiere date: 1954 – American Dance Festival
Music: Gunther Schuller

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The Unsung 

Traditional cast:  6 – 8 males
18 – 30 minutes
A tribute to Native American chiefs, this unforgettable work is accompanied only by the physical sounds of the movement. Each dancer has a solo in addition to the ensemble work.
Stealthy or wild, attacking, grieving, and fleeing in distraction, these dancers brought Limón’s glorious manscape to life….This sophisticated portrait is entirely free from clichés.” Robert Johnson, Dance Enthusiast
A display of fortitude and tenacity of a marginalized population of our country… Remarkable how together the male dancers were, given that there was nothing but breath and noise from movement made with the dancers’ footwork” Demetrius Shields, Dance Informa
Premiere date: 1970 – American Dance Festival
Danced in silence

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The Winged

Traditional cast: 16 – 22 dancers
29 – 48 minutes
The Winged sings, through its images of birds, and their rhythms, of how we humans are with each other. There is desire, danger, the rush of crowds and the way they act. With small groups, individuals, couples, and sweeping masses, Limón’s sense of rhythmic life keeps everything unfolding like wings. The world of nature transports us to the world of man.
Created in 1966 for a cast of 19, partly in silence and with incidental music by Hank Johnson, Carla Maxwell restaged it in 1999 with a new score by Jon Magnussen. The work is a movable feast of solos, duets, a quintet and several large ensemble passages.
Premiere date: 1966 – American Dance Festival
Music: Jon Magnussen

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