José Limón’s Influence On Modern Dance

José Limón’s Influence On Modern Dance

There is no freedom without form.
1547
views
“Dance was not pretty, not ‘graceful’, nor composed of steps. It had to dig beneath the superficial, and find a powerful beauty, even if it had to be ‘ugly’ to do so”- José Limón

José Limón spent his entire life fighting for American dance, fighting for both his own traditions and creative spirits. He created movement that was based off of heroic survival, passion of identity, suffering, and faith. Due to his contributions in the past, he established modern dance as we see it today through his translation of history. His rhythms expanded the once “kingdom of women” to a world where male expression alone now meets men in relationship. His fundamentals were based off of gestures seen in his arms, legs, chests, hips, knees, and feet. His choreography reflected the understanding and appreciation for his music, powered by his father, and this was commonly viewed through his technique and pieces.

The main composition for any of Limón’s works was this idea of suspension, which can be defined as “the change of direction when the body, in that soaring effortless magical moment after moving away from the gravitational pull, is slowly being reclaimed by it” (Limón 40). To explain Limón’s purpose behind his style was to focus on actions unheard of or unthinkable. He was known for head swings, passive stretching, falling or suspension, letting go of weight, leg swings, and beats or measures consisting of metric or breathing. His infatuation became the human mind and freeing the body to soar in a framework of silence, living out phrases according to the breath of life in the moment.

Though he was passionate about music he did not always want instrumental notes in his dances, but rather muscular dynamics such as clapping, silence or the use of one’s own breath in emotive range. He explored movement through the body to locate the dancers’ voices, having the body symbol an orchestra. His characters represented instruments such as the viola, trumpet, guitar, drums, and symbols. Limón has a unique sense about him in that he zealous about movement, dance, Chopin, Bach, and Mich, but when it came to the typical ballet structure with the body’s anatomy or Laban’s ideas, he was not of any interest.

A large factor Limón takes into account is music. He always believed that dancers are musicians, and vice versa, musicians are dancers. According to José, in order to be an excellent dancer one must link the two components into a single ingredient. Stating how successful they are when utilized together, meaning one cannot identify the difference between the two, there should not be awareness of this distinct separation heard or seen. Composers quickly picked up on Limón’s experience with tempos and that they were able to work jointly and understand or accept the opinions of one another. Limón uses Simon Sadoff, his conductor, for most of his dancers and dances as an example he mentions of a musician turned a dancer.

The funny part is how when Limón first began to incorporate music into his choreography, some critics were not on board and marked the tunes, melodies, and step arrangements as “crude and ugly." What he integrated into his pieces delineated the contours of phrasing with the music, the formations and exploitation of space along with movement, which people were unfamiliar with so they viewed it as different and wrong. Deciding to ignore the detractors, Limón considered any approach to music in dance being artistic, and how incredible people truly are even when put down or “wounded.” He was a fighter, nonetheless, and always encouraged people to find the dance that was in them. His motto was that dance was a life force and there is power in dance. He trusted himself in discovering his process and stumbling upon new ways and road paths to take, even if that meant looking into his earlier periods- in which case he did.

José’s contemporaries were the seeds to modern art birth. This design was inspired by life’s challenges, utterly human, and shaped by form to put forth such pure and complex movements. Some of his most artistic life was due to his stirring heroes of World War I and World War II, men, English nurses, and visions of past assaults. He had experience in life, hearing gun shots at the age of five-years-old during breakfast one morning, scrutinizing the death of his mother, becoming an immigrant, and so forth, even crediting ancestors as dance pioneers who had noble carriage and supremacy within their attendance.

Limón’s major influence on his career took place when he went to a performance of Harald Kreutzberg, his actual father whom was not present at his birth. Here he witnessed dance as a vision of ineffable power. A man could, with dignity and towering majesty, dance. It was due to such a presentation accomplished by this man that Limón was given hope with the thought to centralize the strengths and flaws of men with themes of love, fealty, and betrayal as a substitute for Limón’s initial pursuance in painting. He had mental pictures of men dancing alongside women and introduced contact improve and releasing techniques. He suggested off balance routines that would glide an individual on the floor or off to another area in the space. Such thought process began in the dance studio of his foster parents, Doris Humphrey and Charles Wiedman, of which he owes his life to claiming it was their dance classes that brought Limón to life.

His concentrations were towards the dramas of life, and, though it is taught today, there was never a written down technique set. Limón felt that the idea of a rigid outline would limit the possibilities, when he was promoting simplicity, and clarity without extraneous movement, surplus energy, or unwanted tension. His goal was not to establish a structure, but instead endorse the feeling of fearlessness, impulsive attack, or spontaneous actions that would surprise the audience.

Past performances of him were noted as sending his body into the air by sheer will, oblivious as to where he would end up when he came back down to the ground. Limón never tried to look “pretty” when he danced so he believed that when one truly stopped focusing on this concept he or she would become beautiful, and portray traits that would “communicate volume” to a local spectator. He considered himself an outsider, though his choreography ended up piercing social links, political structures, psychological relationships, and a growth in not only men’s lives but American dance as a whole.

The José Limón Dance Company is 69 years old (1947 birth) and has demonstrated modern dance repertory, and works of classic modern. Born in Mexico, Limón’s personal career as a creative and performing artist was established in the United States and led him to be not only a phenomenal dancer, but a trademark in choreographing and networking. Because of the economy at this time this made for harder travel for companies with much drapery, and the government was not in favor of the American arts. However, Limón had a background in Hispanic which provided common ground with Latin Americans and commenced the company to be selected by the State Department to promote good will and present a positive image of American culture by going on tour.

José Limón was now declared the first artist to receive funds under the State Department’s newly formed International Exchange Program. With this investment of the UNESCO in 1954-a project to tour which was one of the major importance to our country’s international relations- his company was able to perform in various countries including: Australia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Singapore and became a United States representative. He constituted an ideal choice as an artist and diplomat during this era for he launched new connections and cultural exchanges. It was because of Limón’s performance that insidious and constant efforts to portray the United States as a heartless and materialistic community were ended. It was so impressive that is offset any negative feedback or comments. It was up until his death (due to cancer on December 2, 1972) that the company was at its peak.

Now it has taken years to balance the memory of his presence, being one of the founders of modern dance in this country. Limón left the 16 dancers in his company with no one else in charge. There was no clear provision made in his will to care for his dances, especially with having no actual dance school of his own. He built a barn years ago that was to later become a studio, but was not fully completed. It was understood how Limón left the company as he lived, fighting for the dance and creating. In his dances he often used narratives structures, based on literary or biblical themes, to explore the characters of his heroes and heroines and the motivations behind all their actions forming abstract linear configurations, and shifting the attention to all who were on stage. Jose Limón was able to counter the perception of the American culture and present a technique that would be continued for the rest of eternity.

Cover Image Credit: limon.org

Popular Right Now

Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"
194076
views

I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.


We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Quotes That Will Remind You What Life Is Really About

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”
44
views

Sometimes you just need a reminder that everything happens for a reason, and the struggles you are going through now are only temporary. We are all human and we all belong. We aren't perfect, we make mistakes, but that's all a part of being alive. Here are some quotes in case you forget:

1. In case you forget that we are in a nation founded by immigrants

“Maybe you weren’t born here, but you found this empty shell and you made it your home”

-Avatar Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

“I am human, so nothing human is foreign to me”

- Terence

2. Failure only brings you closer to perfection

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all in which case, you fail by default.”

-J.K. Rowling

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has ever tried.”

-Stephen McCranie

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same."

-Colin R. Davis

3. For all the writers out there, keep writing

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

-Ernest Hemingway

“We see with the eyes, but we see with the brain as well, and seeing with the brain is often called imagination.”

-Oliver Sacks

4. The future isn’t everything. Don’t forget to enjoy today

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

-J.K Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

5. Remember… don’t be petty

“There are many who pretend to despise and belittle, that which is beyond their reach.”

-Aesop

6. Our faults are what make us unique

“We are more than the parts that form us.”

-Patrick Rothfuss

"You can be wild and still be very wise."

-Yoko Ono

7. Keep an open mind

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

-Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird)

8. Remember to be kind

"Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness, there is magic."

-Fairy Godmother (Cinderella)

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

-Dalai Lama

9. Be the change you want to see in the world

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

-Maya Angelou

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch without doing anything.”

-Albert Einstein

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Related Content

Facebook Comments