Repertory

“The dance is a lingua franca common to all men . . . Human movement and gesture can cross oceans and mountains, rivers and deserts, bridge national frontiers and parochialisms.”
José Limón

Choreographic Offering_round NEW
* photo by Roselie O’Connor

A Choreographic Offering

Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Ensemble work for 12-22 dancers
12 – 58 minutes

A seamless marriage of movement and music, Limón’s tribute to his teacher and mentor is built upon Humphrey’s own choreographic motifs. While the full work is close to an hour long, it is most often presented in shorter suites: the variety of dances—solos, duets, trios, quintets, and ensemble groupings—make it an excellent work for dance companies and student ensembles alike.

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Recent Reconstructions: SUNY Purchase, San Jose State University, Dance Now Miami, Nacre, Montclair State University, Cornish College of the Arts, Hartt Community Division, Mark Foehringer’s Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts, Belinda McGuire for Juilliard in Aiken (SC), Bucknell University, Point Park University.

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* photo by Walter Strate

Chaconne

Music: Johann Sebastian Bach
Male or Female Solo
13 minutes

Limón created this solo for himself in 1942, and it has since been performed by Company principal dancers (men and women) and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Limón tried to capture the formal austerity and the profound quality of the music with his choreography, and the solo is stunning when performed with a violinist onstage.

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Recent Reconstructions: Coreoarte, Paul Dennis, Fondazione Teatro dell’Opera di Roma

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Concerto Grosso

Music: Antonio Vivaldi
Trio for 1 man and 2 women
16 minutes

This three-part choreographic invention evokes the formal beauty of the high baroque and reflects the contrasting moods of the music’s movements: the elegance of the opening fugue; the tender melancholy of the largo, and the brilliance of the finale.

*a group version for 6 or 12 dancers is also available.

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Recent Reconstructions: The Juilliard School, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, The Hartt School/University of Hartford.

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* photo by Beatriz Schiller

Dances for Isadora

Music: Frederic Chopin
Five solos for five women
20 minutes

Limón regarded Isadora Duncan as his “dance mother,” and this series of solos evokes different periods of her life by intertwining aspects of her artistic and personal lives.

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Recent Reconstructions: University of California, Santa Barbara.

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The Emperor Jones

Music: Hector Villa-Lobos
Ensemble work for 8 men
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 it another dimension, and creating a dramatic and powerful piece of theater.

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Exiles_round NEW
* photo by Danskern

The Exiles

Music: Arnold Schoenberg
Male-female duet
18 minutes

Limón’s original program note was taken from John Milton’s Paradise Lost: “They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld of paradise, so late their happy seat.” This virtuosic duet, a dramatic presentation of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, has three sections: “The Flight,” “The Remembrance,” and “the Cherubims and a flaming sword”.

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Recent Reconstructions: Bayerische Staatsballet.

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La Malinche

Music: Norman Lloyd
Trio for woman and two men
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.

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Mazurkas

Music: Frederic Chopin
Ensemble work for 3 men and 4 women
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. It can be performed with the piano onstage.

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Recent Reconstructions: New York University – Tisch, Ft. Wayne Ballet, sjDANCEco, Repertory Dance Theatre, Tiler Peck at Vail International Dance Festival, The Hartt School.

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Missa Brevis

Music: Zoltan Kodaly
22 dancers (including 10 men)
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.

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Recent Reconstructions: Introdans, Repertory Dance Theatre, New Orleans Ballet Association, sjDANCEco.

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The Moor’s Pavane

Music: Henry Purcell (arranged by Simon Sadoff)
Quartet for two men and two women
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.

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Recent Reconstructions: Birmingham Royal Ballet, Los Angeles Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Santa Barbara Dance Theatre, sjDANCEco, Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma, American Ballet Theatre (ABT), New York Theatre Ballet, Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico, Grand Rapids Ballet Theatre, The Mikhailovsky Ballet Company, Munich Staatsballett, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur (Ballet Nice Méditerranée).

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Orfeo

Music: Ludwig von Beethoven
Quintet for 1 man and 4 women
18 minutes

One of Limón’s final works, this lyrical lament of love and loss is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

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Psalm_round
* photo by Beatriz Schiller

Psalm

Music: Jon Magnussen
Ensemble work for 11-16 dancers
16 – 30 minutes

Originally created in 1967 with music by Eugene Lester, Artistic Director Carla Maxwell recreated Psalm in 2002 with a new score by Jon Magnussen. Weaving together belief, ritual, and history, Psalm is a stunning choreographic achievement, combining powerful ensemble dancing with extraordinary solo work.

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Recent Reconstructions: The Hartt School,  Houston School of Visual and Performing Arts, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of California/Santa Barbara, Cornish School of the Arts, Bryn Mawr College, Southeastern Missouri State University, Pace University.

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Scherzo

Music: Hazel Johnson
Quartet for 4 men
11 minutes

This energetic, athletic dance for four men and a drum they toss 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.

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Symphony for Strings_round
* photo by Wysocki

 Symphony for Strings

Music: William Schumann
Ensemble work for 2 men and 4 women

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.

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There is a Time_round
* photo by Gabriel Morales

There is a Time

Music: Norman Dello Joio
Ensemble work for 10-16 dancers (at least 4 men)
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.

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Recent Reconstructions: American Repertory Ballet, Southern Methodist University, Dance Miami Now, Webster University, The Hartt School/University of Hartford; Montclair State University.

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* photo by Beatriz Schiller

The Traitor

Music: Gunther Schuller
Ensemble work for 8 men
20 minutes

Limón’s interpretation of the story of Judas Iscariot and the betrayal of Christ, this work alluded to the McCarthy era and the Red Scare when it was created in 1954. The protagonist symbolizes those men, who, loving too much, must hate; men who turn against their loyalties, friends, and country to betray them to the enemy.

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Unsung_round

The Unsung

Danced in silence
Ensemble work for 6 – 8 men
18 -28 minutes

A tribute to Native American chiefs and the prowess of the male dancer, this unforgettable work is accompanied only by the physical sounds—running, stamping, leaping, breathing—of the movement. Each dancer has a solo in addition to the ensemble work.

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Recent Reconstructions: University of Arizona, Accademia Scala Ballet School, Royal Danish Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts.

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* The Juilliard School, photo by Rosalie O’Connor

The Waldstein Sonata

Music: Ludwig von Beethoven
Ensemble work for 4 men and 4 women

20 minutes (completed by Daniel Lewis after Limón’s death) Limón’s homage to the musical artistry of Beethoven, this work is performed with a piano onstage. While it consists of three movements, the first section can effectively be performed by itself.

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Recent Reconstructions: Dance Fusion, The Juilliard School.

 

Winged_round NEW
* photo by Bob Shomler. Dancers: Hsiang Hsiu Lin and Mike, SaenzsjDANCEco 2009

The Winged

Music: Jon Magnussen
Ensemble work for 16-22 dancers
29 – 48 minutes

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 sectional, and includes solos, duets, a quintet and several large ensemble passages.

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Recent Reconstructions: University of Wyoming, Mills College, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Dance Wave, Valencial College, Rollins College, The Hartt School/University of Hartford.