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Spring Dance Concert features reconstruction of late work by modern master José Limón

2008 is the centennial year of the pioneering modern dancer and choreographer José Limón, and the Bryn Mawr-Haverford Dance Program will mark it with a reconstruction of one of the master's final works at the Spring Dance Concert on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Goodhart Theater.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will feature 40 dancers performing modern dance, jazz, ballet and African dance works by faculty and student choreographers, in addition to a rare performance of Limón's "Waldstein Sonata."

Set to a beloved Beethoven piano sonata of the same name, the "Waldstein" is one of the last dances Limón composed before his death in 1972. Bryn Mawr licensed the work through the Limón Foundation and retained Janet Pilla, a Philadelphia-based expert in Limón's method and work, to teach the piece to Bi-College students.

The group performed the dance a couple of weeks ago at a conference celebrating the Limón centennial at Drexel University, Associate Director of Dance Madeline Cantor reports.

"Reconstructions of this sort are too rare," says Cantor. "In modern dance, there is such a focus on original vision that it's very hard to have a literature, a history. We can watch dances of this era on film, but when you perform a dance, you understand it in a visceral way that you can't by just watching it."

The Limón piece is a prime example of modernist abstraction that eschews storytelling and focuses on pure movement, says Cantor, who performed the piece professionally as a member of Dance Conduit in the 1980s.

"It requires a suspension of postmodern irony in favor of a musical and wholehearted kind of dancing," Cantor observes.

The dancers will be accompanied by a live performance of the Beethoven piano sonata by Noah Farber.

Live musicians—drummers—will also accompany the African Dance Ensemble as it performs its first work by a choreographer new to Bryn Mawr, Rev. Nia Eubanks-Dixon. The piece, titled "Somebodiness," is inspired by the poem "The Somebodiness of Me," by Ruby Dee.

Also on the program is a jazz work by choreographer Myra Bazell of the SCRAP Performance Group, performed to Japanese Taiko drumming; a work with strong ballet influences by Heidi Cruz-Austin; and "Undertow," a modern piece by Philadelphia choreographer Nichole Canuso.

Three student works, one each by dance majors Ellen Gaintner '08 and Adaobi Kanu '08 and one by advanced choreography student Sheerley Zinori '08, will round out the evening.


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Posted 4/24/2008 by Claudia Ginanni