Did You Know? A Glance at Limón Dance Company

November 3, 2022
about Limon Dance company

Celebrate 75 years of Limón! In this program, the company revealed aspects of José Limón’s life and honored his Mexican-American legacy with a timeless program that included Limón’s Psalm, Danzas Mexicanas, and the Northrop Centennial Commission by Raúl Tamez, Migrant Mother.

A black and white image of José Limón with their left arm and leg extended and right arm grabbing the left. His head is turned toward his left arm. The background is dark along the edges and lighter in the center.

Modern Pioneer
Founded in 1946 by the vanguard of American modern dance José Limón, the company was the United States’ first modern dance repertoire company. Choreographer and dancer José Limón is credited with creating one of the world’s greatest dance companies and an enduring legacy of dance since its inception.

A group of twelve dancers kneel on their right knee with their left foot on the ground in front of them. They are all looking up and holding hands with their arms raised above their heads. This image is black and white.

Highly Decorated 
Both José Limón and the company have acquired numerous awards including the White House’s 2008 National Medal of Arts for Lifetime Achievement. Limón Dance Company was the first to be sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s International Cultural Exchange Program, in 1954, to perform in South America.

A sepia toned image shows three dancers. The dancer in the middle is wearing a long dress where the bottom is lighter than the top. Their arms are out to the side with the dancer’s left arm slightly raised above their right. There is one dancer on each side of the dancer in the dress. They both are wearing dark pants and a lighter top. They are faced toward the dancer in the middle.

Journey to Dance
José Limón moved to America with his family when he was seven years old. He became interested in dance at the age of twenty after moving to New York City to study painting. Limón started his studies with pioneer modern dancers Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and was soon invited to join their company. As of 2020, the company is now under the direction of Artistic Director, Dante Puleio.

Fifteen dancers are shown in a colored image. The dancers are all lifting their left arm and looking towards it. Their right arm is bent at the elbow and raised. Some dancers are wearing dresses and others are wearing tops and pants.

Uncovering Musical History
The company performed using the original score by Eugene Lester that has not been heard by audiences in decades—recorded in 2022 by the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble. Unable to obtain the musical rights to his original choice, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, Limón originally choreographed the work in silence, until the company could afford to commission Lester’s original score, just two months before the 1967 premiere. 

Two dancers hold a third above their shoulders, while a fourth dancers across the stage points a finger at the elevated dancer. The elevated dancer wears a large, circular headpiece, that stands out before the all black background.

Continuing the Tradition 
Raúl Tamez, choreographer of the Northrop Centennial Commission Migrant Mother, is the first Mexican choreographer to set a work on the company since Limón himself. Tamez received two Lunas del Auditorio, one of the most prestigious awards for performing arts in Mexico and in 2016, received the National Dance Award of Mexico.