Social Distance Dance Video Series -A Blast from the Past- José Limón, Lucas Hoving, Pauline Koner, Betty Jones in "The Moors Pavane"

Social Distance Dance Video Series -A Blast from the Past- José Limón, Lucas Hoving, Pauline Koner, Betty Jones in "The Moors Pavane"
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on March 16, 2020
2019 Limon Dance Cast;Photo Christopher Jones

While We are Inside Doing Our Part to Combat COVID-19 , Let's #Getenthused and Connect Over Our Favorite Dance Videos

(from the video above) The Moor's Pavane is generally considered to be one of the great masterworks in the modern repertory. In the form of a Renaissance dance, Limon distills the legend of Othello into a taut, one-act human drama with music by Henry Purcell. Joining Limon are his close collaborators Lucas Hoving, Pauline Koner, and Betty Jones. Telecast date: March 6, 1955. Canadian Broadcasting Company.

I was supposed to preview the Limón Dance Company last week, but didn't attend their open rehearsal  because I had decided previously to travel only to places  that I could walk to from my apartment.

Unfortunately, and it breaks my heart, the company's NYC season is cancelled at the moment due to the important restrictions mandated to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in our city.

Last year, the Limón dancers were fabulous and I was so looking forward to this season.

I've  decided to highlight this 1955 video of José Limón dancing The Moors Pavane with his peers. The Moors Pavane is one of my very favorite classic modern dance pieces, and I know I'm not alone.  I have also included  writing and some video I shot of the Limón Dance Company in previous years. I hope you enjoy it.

Do you have a favorite video that you would like to share with The Dance Enthusiast audience?  During this time of distancing we can still #getenthused and connect to one another and  to our dance passion online.

Please share a link and any commentary you have about your  video and what it means to you to 

Be well all.  We will get through this together. 

Blasts from the Dance Enthusiast's Past  Re Limón Dance Company. 2019

"Martha Graham, entranced by José Limón’s commanding 6 foot 1 physique and magnetic dancing presence, wanted him to be the first male dancer in her all female company. Limón’s mentor and artistic director, Doris Humphrey, thankfully dissuaded him from the proposal. He could have very well been distracted and never developed his choreographic voice.

And what we would have missed! His 1947 masterwork, The Moor's Pavane, and 1967’s Psalm look radiant as danced by the adroit young artists of the 2019 Limón Dance Company. I can’t contain my praise about this group. They danced their hearts (and several other body parts) out this season...

The Moor's Pavane, an extraordinary feat of choreography, distills Shakespeare’s tale of Othello, into a twenty-one minute court dance for four of the play’s main characters: “The Moor” (Othello), Mark Willis; “His friend” (Iago), Jesse Obremski; “His Friend’s Wife” (Amelia), Jacqueline Bulnes; and “The Moor's Wife” (Desdemona), Savannah Spratt. But one needn’t know Othello the play to comprehend this ballet. The story was designed so expertly by Limón and is enacted with such nuance and intensity by this stellar quartet, we are immediately drawn in.

The four each raise one arm and touch hands in the center of a small circle to begin their stately dance ritual. Bowing in reverence, rising in salutation, they acknowledge one another. As the dancers break away from their formal grouping, which they do periodically to “converse” in different pairings, the story beneath the aristocratic facade unfolds. Tension builds with each interruption from protocol to personal exchange and back again.

Through movement, both athletic and gestural, as well as well-placed stillness, we discover that Obremski is not a friend at all, rather a scheming, jealous snake with elegant clothes and superficial mannerisms. Bulnes, his wife. matches her husband’s unctuousness with guile and vanity. Spratt, the Moor's wife, lacks the artifice that overflows in the actions of Obremski and Bulnes. Her movement indicates that she is completely in love with Willis, the Moor, and an innocent, full of hope. Willis moves marvelously between regal control and gutsy emotional explosion. He loves fully and when he is duped into believing his wife has cheated on him, becomes broken inside and blindly enraged.

The inevitable conclusion is tragedy. The Moor murders his wife in a fit of passion, then realizing what he has done howls in pain at the catastrophe. Only Desdemona dies in this version of Othello, but that is enough, the other three are left to live with the consequence of their actions, which is a death in itself."  Christine Jowers

Challenges of Dancing the Repertory of José Limón :

Former Artistic Director of the Limón Dance Company, Carla Maxwell on José Limón with clips of Limón's "Mazurka's " in rehearsal


Here is another video of José Limón, Betty Jones, Lucas Hoving, and I believe Ruth Currier. It is interesting to see some of the choreography more close-up, and note the facial expressions of  several of our great "dancestors."

Unfortunately this video is narrated, BUT if you can try to tune that out, it is so worth a look.

Studio-filmed performance of Jose Limon's landmark ballet. Shot in 16mm Kodachrome, this is an Ektachrome reversal print. Made in 1951 for Brandon Films.

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