Limón Dance Company, on tour

Limón Dance Company, on tour

Limón Dance Company, on tour

Limón Dance Company member Jonathan Fredrickson
Photo by Roel Seeber

STEPS #12 International Dance Festival Switzerland
The Migros Culture Percentage Dance Festival
Palazzo dei Congressi
Lugano, Switzerland
April 27, 2010

Artistic Director Carla Maxwell and Associate Artistic Director Roxane D’Orléans Juste, of the Limón Dance Company, have built an ensemble full of powerful, fully realized dancers.  Perhaps the emphasis on fall and recovery, motivated by breath, means that the performers remain touchable.  The directors must play a role in the commitment of the dancers to show dramatic action through movement.  But the drama never feels heavy or put on; here is a light, effervescent touch.  These are exalted humans, but also real.

Kristen Foote illustrates the signature lyricism of Limón, particularly highlighted in “Etude.”  Choreographed by Maxwell, this piece represents how some of those who worked with the great masters of American modern dance (Maxwell with Limón) are able to integrate the best of the teacher and then add more.  Dancer Foote has exemplary technical skill, with respect for the Limón history and technique; at the same time, Foote fulfills a vision of contemporary moving.

The Limón Dance Company has several other incredible women dancers.  Belinda McGuire is marvelous as the joyous young girl in Limón’s “There Is a Time” and equally wonderful in Clay Taliaferro’s “Into My Heart’s House.”  McGuire is an extraordinary talent, with an ability to switch seamlessly from more traditional choreography to the new choreography of fellow company member Jonathan Fredrickson.

And then there is the inimitable Roxane D’Orléans Juste.  Many years ago as a young woman living in New York City, I saw D’Orléans Juste perform with the Limón Dance Company, and she struck me then as a woman who had not lost herself to the uncompromising world of dance.  Here in Lugano, Switzerland, in “Transfiguration”—a solo choreographed by Susanne Linke—D’Orléans Juste remains the rarest of dancers: a woman fully grounded, embodied, and translucent.  If you are looking for lessons to guide a woman’s life, watch Roxane D’Orléans Juste dance.

This is a company with a venerable history, yet Artistic Director Maxwell encourages and welcomes contemporary choreography.  Company member Jonathan Fredrickson’s “The Edge of Some World,” with music by Henryk Górecki, begins when five dancers enter in a vertical line.  Eight vases are placed in a parallel vertical line at the opposite edge of the stage.  The effect causes a foreshortening, a sense that we are part of the line, the movement of human history.  The dancers begin to approach the vases, flower bouquets in hand.  We are visiting our loss, trying to fill the void of the empty vase with God’s creation, those flower bouquets.  But the flowers are also vomited, shockingly, so their representation is not entirely pastoral.

The quintet in “The Edge of Some World” showed the most unified ensemble dancing of the night and the most risk and commitment in their partnering.  Kristen Foote, Jonathan Fredrickson, Belinda McGuire, Ashley Lindsey, and Robin Wilson care for each other yet remain drawn to their individual aspirations.  When a sixth dancer appeared, at first I thought, “No!  Leave this ensemble alone.”  But Kathryn Alter carves a way through, showing a possible path as she quickly exits.  The remaining two empty vases open a path forward.  To be whole in the world as an individual and to be connected to community is part of the negotiation required in contemporary life.  “The Edge of Some World” suggests that we have reached an abyss, but we have not lost our humanity.  The final couple holds hands as they step over those vases.  I’m grateful that Fredrickson envisions a compassionate future.

And for that future, I am thrilled that Carla Maxwell (in opening remarks before the performance) said the company plans to nurture Fredrickson’s talent.  His worldview rounds out the repertory, making the magnificent Limón Dance Company feel even more meaningful and alive for our time.

Renée E. D’Aoust