Energetic Limon company keeps its heritage kicking

April 01, 1996|By J. L. Conklin | J. L. Conklin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The late Jose Limon's choreographic legacy was featured this weekend as the Kennedy Center continued its America Dancing series with a robust performance from the Limon Dance Company.

Under the artistic direction of Carla Maxwell since 1978, the company maintains the high choreographic standards set forth by Mr. Limon and his mentor Doris Humphrey. Their program of five works gave us one of Ms. Humphrey's memorable dances, "Day on Earth," two portraits by Daniel Nagrin, "Strange Hero" and "Spanish Dance" and a reworking of Mr. Limon's brilliant "Choreographic Offering" and his beloved, "The Moor's Pavane."

The opening "Choreographic Offering" was created by Mr. Limon as an elegy to his company's artistic director. It is replete with recognizable imagery culled from Ms. Humphrey's numerous works, yet the work is decidedly Mr. Limon's in dynamic temperament.

Set in eight overlapping sections, the work is a celebration of dance. The six men and five women were a bit shaky in the beginning, but soon hit their stride with a striking duet and a remarkable solo.

Yet it is the ensemble work, with its sunny unison that is the backbone of the dance. The various line and circle dances with the performers linking arms, the quick and fluid movements evince a powerful sense of community.

Mr. Nagrin's two portraits, "Strange Hero," a sardonic look at a gangster and "Spanish Dance" a dance poem inspired by the flamenco, were both expertly performed by Limon dancers, Carl Flink and Nina Watt respectively. Mr. Flink masterfully captured the aggressive sinewy energy of his hero and Ms. Watt was amazing in her portrayal of constrained passion.

Ms. Humphrey's abstract parable "Day on Earth" had the audience spellbound with the performances of Ms. Maxwell, Paul Dennis, Pamala Jones and young Chelica Kimmerling. The dance is striking and heroic in its larger-than-life movements, and mythologic overtones. Mr. Dennis' performance was notable in his ability to alternately convey a sense of joy and loss, of hope and despair and Ms. Maxwell's and Ms. Jones' dancing were equally expert.

The closing work, "The Moor's Pavane" is one of the company's signature works. Loosely wrapped around Shakespeare's story of Othello, the dance is a small well-worked drama that featured Ms. Watt, Ms. Maxwell, Carlos Orta and Marc Kenison. Within the framework of the renaissance dance forms, the four characters played out their tragedy. The dances' intimate scale only enhanced the emotional wallop.

Pub Date: 4/01/96

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