José Limón with Doris Humphrey

Walter E. Owen, Courtesy DM Archives

#TBT: José Limón on What a Theater is Supposed to Be

The cover of the April 1956 issue of Dance Magazine featured a portrait of José Limón by renowned dance photographer Jack Mitchell. By that time, 10 years after the formation of the Limón Dance Company, its namesake was a well-established force in American modern dance.


Born in Mexico and having immigrated to the U.S. at a young age, Limón came to formal dance training relatively late after first pursuing the visual arts. He trained with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman and danced with their eponymous company throughout the 1930s. After serving in World War II (first as a driver in the Quartermaster Corps and then in Special Services, where he directed and danced in shows for fellow service members), he founded his company with Humphrey, who served as artistic director until her death in 1958.

Limón's works, in which he frequently performed, married expansive, technically demanding movement with dramatic subject matter; The Moor's Pavane, a distillation of Shakespeare's Othello, is perhaps the most famous example. He often returned to Mexico to perform, teach and choreograph, at the invitation of the Mexican government. His company was also tapped by the U.S. State Department to tour abroad as part of cultural diplomacy efforts during the Cold War.

Jos\u00e9 Lim\u00f3n holds his hat in one hand as he looks at someone off camera, stance easy. Behind him sits a woman on a blanket with woven baskets arrayed around her; further back, a horse grazes before a stone wall; in the background, mountainous foothills.

José Limón in Mexico

Courtesy DM Archives

In the April 1958 issue of Dance Magazine, after returning from one of these tours, he said, "These European opera houses are what I feel a theater ought to be. A theater is to me a temple—a place for the worship of the Muses." Limón, who received a Dance Magazine Award in 1957, continued to choreograph until his death in December 1972.

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CalArts dance students. Photo by Josh S. Rose, Courtesy CalArts

4 Reasons Interdisciplinary Education Can Make You a Stronger Dancer, According to CalArts

After years spent training in their childhood studio, it can be hard for dancers to realize exactly how many pathways there are toward career success. The School of Dance at CalArts aims to show its students all of them.

Built with the intention to break barriers and bend the rules, CalArts' interdisciplinary curriculum ensures that students take classes that cover an entire spectrum of artistic approaches. The result? A dance program that gives you much more than just dance.

Last week, Dance Magazine caught up with Kevin Whitmire, assistant director of admission for CalArts School of Dance, and recent alum Kevin Zambrano for the inside scoop on how an interdisciplinary curriculum can make you a stronger artist. Watch the full event below, and read on for the highlights.

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July 2021