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A repertoire pièce by Limón Dance Company

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On the 11th of April 1958, José Limón presented for the first time at the Juilliard School of Music (NY) Missa Brevis, a pièce from Limón’s repertoire created for 22 dancers and set on the musical score Missa Brevis in Tempore Belli by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. The score was written at the end of the Second World War and it had its first performance in the cellar of a thwarted church in Budapest. At the debut of the first choreographic representation there was still Doris Humphrey as artistic director of the Limón Dance Company.


Missa Brevis is a choral work that commemorates destroyed lives and cities. it is considered one of Limón's masterpieces, which describes the humanity that arises after near-destruction and the human qualities that push the spirit to resurrect and rise in hope to survive. It is a celebration of the intrepidity of the human spirit. The company offers this choral threnody with an impressive understanding of the weight of the body.


Missa Brevis is a Latin term that means "Short Mass" and it refers to a mass consisting of only a part of the text of the complete Mass’ Ordinary (Missa Tota) or to a Mass characterized by a relatively short execution time.


Among the peculiar qualities of Limón, as a choreographer, there’s his innate musical sensitivity. In fact, almost all his works are characterized by a strong interaction between dancers and music. For this reason he was also the master of “choreographic counterpoint” - a counterpoint between groups and soloists, and between dancers and music. (In music the counterpoint is the presence, within a composition, of independent melodic lines combined together). Limón’s technical virtuosity regards not only the choreography, but also the musical aspect of his works, which makes it very rewarding to watch and particularly challenging to dance, as shown by his repertoire pièce "Missa Brevis".


Below you can find a small excerpt from his moving work, celebrating the human spirit in overcoming difficulties.

Written by Matteo Mascolo.

Translations: text translated in English by Bianca Pasquinelli and in Spanish by Greta Zagani.

La Tecnica di danza di Doris Humprhey: Chi siamo
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