Jose Limon
limon-1
limon-1
limon-2
limon-2
limon-3
limon-3
limon-4
limon-4
NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Jose Arcadio Limón was born 12th January 1908 in Culiacán, Mexico. In 1915, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Lincoln High School, Limón attended UCLA as an art major. He moved to New York City in 1928 to study at the New York School of Design. In 1929, he was inspired to dance after attending one of Harald Kreutzberg and Yvonne Georgi’s performances.
Limón enrolled in the Humphrey-Weidman school later that year and, just a year later, performed on Broadway. Later in 1930, Limón choreographed his first dance, “Etude in D Minor”, a duet with Letitia Ide. In addition to his the duet partner, Limón recruited schoolmates Eleanor King and Ernestine Stodelle to form “The Little Group”. From 1932 to 1933, Limón made two more broadway appearances in the musical revue Americana and Irving Berlin’s As Thousands Cheer, choreographed by Charles Weidman. Limón also tried his hand at choreography this year at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre. Limón made several more appearances throughout the next few years in shows such as Humphrey’s New Dance, Theatre Piece, With my Red Fires, and Weidman’s Quest. In 1937, he was selected as one of the first Bennington Fellows. At the Bennington Festival at Mill College in 1939, Limón created his first major choreographic work, titled Danzas Mexicanas. After five years, however, Limón would return to Broadway to star as a featured dancer in Keep Off the Grass under the choreographer George Balanchine.
In 1941, Limón left the Humphrey-Weidman company to work with May O’Donnell. They co-choreographed several pieces together, such as “War Lyrics” and “Curtain Riser”. During this time, Limón met Pauline Lawrence, who he would later marry on October 3, 1942, the partnership with O’Donnell dissolved the following year.
Limón made his final appearance on Broadway in 1943 with Balanchine’s Rosalinda, a piece he performed with Mary Ellen Moylan. He spent the rest of that year creating dances on American and folk themes at the Studio Theatre before being drafted into the Army in April 1943. During this time, he collaborated with composers Frank Loesser and Alex North, choreographing several works for U.S. Army Special Services. The most well-known among these is Concerto Grosso.
Upon attaining American citizenship in 1946, Limón formed the José Limón Dance Company. When Limón began his company, he asked Humphrey to be the artistic director, making it the first modern dance company to have an artistic director who was not also the founder. The company had its formal debut at Bennington College, playing such pieces as Doris Humphrey’s Lament and The Story of Mankind. Among the first members were Pauline Koner, Lucas Hoving, Betty Jones, Ruth Currier, and Limón himself. While working with Humphrey, Limón developed his repertory with Doris Humphrey and established the principles of the style that was to become the Limón technique. By 1947, the company had reached New York, debuting at the Belasco Theatre with Humphrey’s Day on Earth. After choreographing The Moor’s Pavane, it received the Dance Magazine Award for the year’s most outstanding choreography. In the spring of 1950, Limón and his group appeared in Paris with Ruth Page, becoming the first American modern dance company to appear in Europe.
In 1951, Limón joined the faculty of The Juilliard School where a new dance division had been developed. He also accepted an invitation to Mexico City’s Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, where he created six works.
In 1958, Doris Humphrey, who had been the artistic director for the Limón Company, died and Limón took over her position. Between 1958 and 1960, Limón choreographed with Pauline Koner.In 1964, he went on to receive the Capezio award and was appointed the artistic director of the American Dance Theatre at the Lincoln Centre. The following year, Limón appeared in an NET special titled The Dance Theatre of Jose Limón. A few years later, he established the Jose Limón Dance Foundation as a not-for-profit corporation and received an honorary doctorate from University of North Carolina. In 1966, Limón and his company were invited to perform at the White House for President Lyndon B. Johnson and King Hassan II of Morocco. Limón’s final appearances onstage as a dancer were in 1969, when he performed in The Traitor and The Moor’s Pavane at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.In 1970, Limón was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In the last years of his life, despite being stricken with cancer, he choreographed and filmed a solo dance interpretation for CBS. In 1971, Limón lost his wife, to cancer and, in December 1972, at the age of 64, Jose Limón also died from cancer.

Jose Limon – The Moor’s Pavane