José Limón’s Influence On Modern Dance

José Limón’s Influence On Modern Dance

There is no freedom without form.
3220
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

To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

695055
views

To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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

The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.

1342
views

Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.


Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.


After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

Related Content

Facebook Comments