As they always say, the show must go on, and luckily it did for the Limón Dance Company on Friday. Because of the inclement weather in Greensboro, this performance almost did not happen. The excited spectators who have looked forward to this concert were very grateful to not be snowed-in.
As part of UNCG’s annual lecture series, Limón Dance Company was invited to perform. Since 1907, the lecture series at UNCG has brought many professional dance guests and companies, such as the Bill T. Jones dance company, to our campus to perform.
There were a total of four famous works in this performance. According to the Limón Dance Company’s artistic director, Colin Connor, three of the works are considered “masterful” works.
The dance piece, “Unsung,” is a celebration of Native American culture and maintaining their indigenous art forms in dance. This piece drew inspiration from past traditions.
“Unsung” was performed in silence. The dancers themselves created the “music” with their body parts such as their hands, feet, the slapping of shoulders, sliding across the floor and breathing. These gestures made the performance beautifully distinctive. According to Connor, when Jose Limón created this work, it was not recognized in history books until 1967.
One would say that this was modern dance at its very finest. The dance started out with movements that could be seen as tribal chanting. From an outsider’s perspective or those that are not acquainted with Native American culture could understand the movements as custom traditional movements of Native American dance. There were many strong movements as well as graceful moments.
The all-male group sported tan pants and were shirtless. One could see emotion within the movements as well as the dancer’s commitment and passion based on the sweat on their backs. Everyone moved in unison for the majority of the piece, as if together they were one body.
Although everyone danced precisely as one in the beginning, throughout the piece, various men were dancing on stage solo and were executing quick movements, showing off their own capabilities.
Overall, it was a heartwarming experience for people who have not witnessed Native American culture in dance form. Every movement had a purpose.
The “Moor’s Pavane” was the third performance of the night and perhaps the highlight of the show.
This performance was a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Othello,” who was a moor of Italy. The story is about Othello losing confidence in his wife’s faithfulness to him and who also struggled with trust within a friend who was not much of a friend. The story unfolds with a mixture of racism and domestic violence. Four dancers played the main characters in this piece.
What people may not grasp when watching the performance, is that the dancers doubled as actors, by telling “dance narratives.” These dancers focused on showing the characters’ relationship with each other.
The choice of costumes added to the piece as well, by making it feel as though they were taking part in a royal ball placed in the 1700s. The dancers wore royal colors in velvet material that added to the performance aesthetically. Appealing orchestral music played in the background.
Another work by the company was a piece paying homage to a modern dance pioneer, Doris Humphrey, who was also Limon’s teacher.
All in all, the night’s performance left a lasting impression. The dancers, directors, musicians and everyone involved put a lot of energy, thought and effort into this production. It was a very privileged feeling to have not missed out on witnessing Jose Limón’s art on stage. For those who were unable to attend the performance — do not worry, UNCG holds an annual lecture series event that is sure to delight.