Performing Arts: Dance
May 2, 2014
The Limón Dance Company honored its founder in spirit, form, and content on Opening Night at the Joyce Theater, presenting two masterworks: Mazurkas (1958) and Psalm (1967 – restaged in 2002 by Carla Maxwell), and two premieres: She Who Carries the Sky, choreography by Dianne McIntyre, and Nocturne for Ancestors by Sean Curran.

This season of works was dedicated to and in celebration of the life of beloved dancer, teacher, choreographer, mentor, composer, friend, and colleague to the company, Alan Danielson, “a man whose heart was always open to adventure and others to find their path as well.”

Program A opened the show with Mazurkas. Women enter in cream colored dresses, the men in black trousers and white shirts breaking into duets, solos, and larger groupings, carving space with wonderfully articulated suspensions, piques, sautés, leaps… arms and backs so connected to a larger expression of humanity than mere technical perfection. Live piano performance of Chopin's score by Vanessa Perez enhanced the production staged by Sarah Stackhouse. All the creative elements, including Joshua Rose's lighting recreated by Stirling Baker, blended to convey moods and larger feelings of the spirit.

Diane McIntyre’s She Who Carries the Sky (World Premiere) honored company member Roxane D’Orleans Juste’s 30th year as an artist and director of the Limón Dance Company. A quote in the program by Edwidge Danticat discusses “people of Creation, Strong, tall, and mighty people who can bear anything.” Roxane personifies this ideal on stage through a series of experiences as the female heroine who journeys and stands up through tempests and life’s dilemmas, walking off in the end, strong and proud. Costumed by Andrea Lauer in a long salmon colored skirt, halter top, and scarf that serves as transition and scene change, she gestures and dramatizes a lifetime of experience in all four corners of the world on stage, but always coming back to center as the strong and enduring character who can “hold up the sky.” The creative relationship between McIntyre and Juste is apparent in this performance, both strong, peaceful, women who have endured over time and place. Music: Jon Hassel/ Farafina and R. Carlos Nakai; Sound design: James Swonger and Bill Toles; Artistic Consultants: Phyllis Lamhut and Kathleen S. Turner.

Nocturne for Ancestors (World Premiere) by guest artist Sean Curran, presents the thirteen company dancers in eloquent folk dance references integrated with modern dance in delightful motifs: circles that enlarge, diminish to fours, then two’s, line dances, all seamlessly woven together in full spirited couplings, with skips, hops, chasses, shuffles, and claps, often framing more stylized modern dance freezes of positions and statements. Costumed by Amana Shafran, the dancers are beautifully dressed in colorful variations of pants, and dresses based on East Indian design; music by Licia and Pedro H. da Silva; lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker. Curran’s Nocturne for Ancestors offers the company and the audience a deep breath of joy, gratitude, and life in community in this hearkening back to the heart of folk dance, no matter what culture, no matter what age.

The evening closed with the deep and epic work Psalm, for the full company with Raphael Boumaila as “The Just Man,” the central character. Costumed in subtle shades of grey pants and tunic tops, lined in reds and blues, by Marion Williams, and music commissioned in 2002 by Jon Magnussen, the dancers form and reform, often in circles around “The Just Man,” responding, framing, lifting, and uniting with him in communal soul search. Boumaila reaches beyond himself at all times with outstretched hands, body, and soul, calling and responding to the universe, personifying the spirit of God on earth and his importance to the life of others. Compelling “Alleluia” vocalizations pierce the atmosphere, with deep mood lighting by Steve Woods, recreated by Brandon Stirling Baker. Music, light, and dance evoke, as Limón states in program notes: the heroic power of the human spirit, triumphant over death itself.”

Kudos to the entire Limón family for this powerful and uplifting continuation of their 68th year!
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY-- Mary Seidman

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