Performing Arts: Dance
May 2, 2022
Before a packed audience at the Joyce Theater, the Limon Dance Company opened with Waldstein Sonata. The dance featured eight strong, confident dancers, dressed in costumes by Haydee and Maria Morales; the women in shades of apricot and pale dresses, the men in loose pants and tops, reminiscent of the 70’s modern dance scene when this piece was first created. Dr. Danny Lewis reconstructed the original work in 1975 on Juilliard dancers, and today it still holds its stature. The dancers exchange positions from center circles, often reaching arms high with clasped hands in prayer-like positions, with lower body variations of stag leaps, attitude hops, and lunges. During the second half, with neutral light on stage, and adagio (from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Opus 53, played live by pianist Soheil Nasseri).

Three duets emerge-- women are lifted, rising effortlessly and softly landing to the floor, then lovingly cradled in the arms of their male partners. The piece ends with all eight dancers on stage, smiling expressively moving forward and back, completing their trajectory in low lunges to the ground, as if quietly spent from the seemingly effortless work. The work shows its deep attention and respect for Beethoven’s work, and displays Limón technique at its best; a stage palette designed with integrity and imagination.

Danzas Mexicanas, a series of five solos, originally choreographed by Limón in 1939, and reconstructed for this season by Artistic Director Dante Pulieo. It features three men and two women expressing Limón’s homage to the spirit of his native country. “Indio” danced by Robert M. Valdez, Jr. enters in white with background projection of green grass. Savannah Spratt dances “Conquistador” in black dress, boots, walking and pounding her feet majestically as she reigns over the stage, depicting the European infiltration of Mexico.

“Peon,” danced by Terrence D.M. Diable, arrives bare chested with white pants and red sash, arms often in prayer position, symbolizing the enslavement of the native people. “Caballero,” performed by Johnson Duo in a red tuxedo jacket, represents the new generation of conquistadors, with “all of the cruelty and none of the strength of the originals.” Finally, Lauren Twomley enters upstage right in “Revolucionario” initially crawling on her belly until the driving music allows her to rise and fill the space with brave, exuberant jumps, signifying the “contemporary, descendants of those before who now fight against oppressive systems of power.” Live pianist Soheil Nasseri accompanied each dance with music by Lionel Nowak.

Migrant Mother (World Premiere) by contemporary choreographer Raul Tamez completed the evening, using the brilliant skills of eleven dancers. Billed as a tribute to the magic of Mesopotamia. It opens with dancers in still shapes, surrounding a central figure created by two intertwined dancers swathed in gauzy fabric. Tamez’s work expresses the repressed and wandering emotions: rage, fear, possession by evil spirits, reflected in the primal scream of the victimized woman, and referring to an earlier pre-catholic form of religion.

Highlighted by numerous musical works, it rambles on without a coherent statement, but perhaps that is the point. A dancer dressed as a stag (helmet of antlers) leaps, staggers, and “dies” on stage in the finale, reminding us of the vulnerability of nature.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman

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