THE LIMON DANCE COMPANY
June 22, 2012
The Jose Limon Dance Company displayed its pioneering modern dance roots and new directions at the Joyce Theater.
A major revival of Jose Limons’ 1956 “The Emperor Jones” (staged by Clay Taliaferro) opened the well balanced program and ended with the world premiere of Rodrigo Pederneiras’ “Come With me,” to a commissioned score by Latin Jazz artist Paquito D’Rivera.
Referencing Eugene O’Neil’s tragedy, Daniel Fetecua Soto (The Emperor) and Durell Comedy (The Trader) lead a strong ensemble of six men in a ballet about the demise of a cruel, self-appointed ruler of a Caribbean island. Dressed in a flashy white military outfit and red plumed admiral’s hat, Soto sits spread legged on a large throne. Arms open wide, palms face forward, fingers splay before plunging downward, grasping the throne and his fleeting power. In contrast, Comedy breezes by in his white suit and hat, limbs loose and eyes on Jones. Throughout the piece, Limon inserts what are considered Hip Hop moves including back spins and serpentine dives adding a folk sensibility to the modern dance vocabulary he helped build. Comedy was particularly strong, easing through odd balances and shifting from light to weighted moves and Soto captured the right shoulder generated swagger of a delusional leader.
In most performances, Roxanne D’Orelans-Juste performs Limon’s “Chaconne” to J.S. Bach, but on this occasion, the modestly compelling Kathryn Alter danced the solo. Dressed in pants and shirt, there’s a simplicity and rigor to the solo that relies on musical shadings in discreet sections. Quick turns and stops, airy jumps and spirals switch from one facing to another demanding precision and internal lyricism -- all calmly delivered by Ms. Alter to rounds of applause.
Dubussy’s composition “La Cathedrale Engloutie” forms the title of Jiri Kylian’s 1975 piece. Pianist Anna Shelest played live, while Elise Leon-Drew, Francisco Ruvalcaba, Belinda McGuire, Raphael Boumaila danced as couples against the sound of the sea and wind broken up by wisps of Debussy’s stirring music. Arms draw up in a “V” formation making the dancers resemble sails and conjuring up images of the sea. At times, a woman’s arms are suspended around a man’s neck, and slides forward like a large wave, until feet move rapidly in an undertow retreat. Splintered driftwood contributes to the sense of a windswept, ungoverned place.
Closing out the program, the company emerged in a bright new piece “Come With Me” by Rodrigo Pederneiras to a commissioned score by Paquito D’Rivera. Attractive and light as the dancers looked in this piece, the choreography did not reflect the Latin Jazz score’s rhythmic complexity or sonic texture. The Limon dancers pull out the basic beat and move in unison against a score’s counterpoint. However, the audience was pleased with the choreography and music’s colorful light-heartedness.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis