Performing Arts: Dance
December 29, 2021
The Jose Limón Dance Company capped off their Kaatsbaan Residency with an online performance showcasing both original Limón works reimagined, as well as new choreography from emerging artists.

A co-commission with the American Dance Festival, Suite Donuts, choreographed by Chafin Seymour, takes on a contemporary feel for this energetic cast. Accompanied by whimsical wind driven music, the work derives its name from the score. With minimal lighting on stage, the piece opens on a soloist; dressed in a simple blue sweatsuit, the dancer moves quickly through gesture and isolations of the body. Soon, the soloist is joined by the remainder of the cast where they meet in in a vertical line near the wings of the stage. Through the piece, the dancers return to this line often, as it acts as a reset button for the group.

Each time, the dancers explode from the line to a cannon, where the movement really takes form. Sudden weight transfers and pedestrian gesturing are at the base of every sequence. There is impressive use of the back and neck softening into the ground as the dancers roll and shift through the floorwork. Harnessing energy in that way can be exhausting, and yet they effortlessly and creatively utilize the back space.

Prompted by a second solo, the piece is split into two sections. If the first section is an exploration and discovery, of the space and of themselves, then the second settles into a familiar understanding of the two. As the lighting brightens on stage, the mood lightens, and the beat of the music kicks in with drums and added chaos among the instruments. Dancers explode into their own movement patterns, but find and catch each other in jumps of unison. Suite Donuts comes to a close as the dancers find themselves in a groove circle, smiling lightheartedly, as the lights fade.

The Moor’s Pavane is one of Limón’s most critically acclaimed pieces. Originally performed in 1949, one would find it hard to believe that this Shakspearian variation could continue to be relevant seventy years later. And yet, with tones of deception, chaos, mistrust and injustice, suddenly The Moor’s Pavane becomes eerily appropriate and suited to this year. Danced beautifully with emotional and individual choices made by the dancers, this work finds new and symbolic meaning as the year closes.

There is a Time concludes the streaming event in a fresh new revival. Last seen on stage in 2010, this 1956 ballet explores community. Reimagined and restaged with gender neutral casting, the company uses the piece as a vessel for healing. Accompanied by a Pulitzer Prize winning score of strings, composed by Norman Dello Joio, the circular theme of the piece is taken literally through formation and movement, and metaphorically through emotion. Alluding to the book of the Bible, Ecclesiastes, the restaging tackles the good, the bad, and the ugly that humanity had to offer us in 2020.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mia Silvestri

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