Thursday, February 4
New York, NY
words by Ernest Barteldes
The legacy of modern American dance pioneers José Limón (1908-1972) and Anna Sakolow (1910-2000) was remembered at a packed Americas Society as Limon Dance Company artistic director Carla Mawell took the microphone to speak about how these two dancers and choreographers influenced contemporary dance in America and abroad during their long careers.
Maxwell spoke of both dancers’ humble origins – Limón as the son of Mexican immigrants in southern California and Sakolow as the daughter of immigrant Jews growing up in New York City’s Lower East Side, their initial struggles and the eventual recognition of their individual talents. She also talked about the two choreographers’ temperament, with emphasis on Sokolow’s feistiness and her honest and direct (bordering on rude) approach towards the dancers in her company.
The lectures were intertwined with two videos: the first included footage from a 1965 PBS program on Limón that featured images from his own solos. The second included images from Sakolow in the dance studio and also part of an interview where she stated that she had no ambition for being popular, because she would have to mask her personality to achieve this. In her own words, she stated – with a completely straight face – that she “wasn’t interested in being nice.”
The program also featured two excerpts from dances created by Limón and Sakolow, done as a solo by company member Dante Puleio. The first was part of 1956’s “There Is A Time,” a dramatic piece that illustrates the cycle of life from birth to death. Next was Sakolow’s frenetic “Rooms,” a bebop-fueled piece that demanded a lot from the dancer, who jumped and ran around the improvised stage, giving the audience an idea of what the whole piece was about.
Unfortunately, given the configuration of Americas Society’s room, many in attendance were unable to see the full nuances of the dance. Puleio did his moves at floor level, and given the fact that there was no elevation or proper stage, many in the rear seats were virtually unable to see what was going on. But it was nevertheless an enjoyable experience that left us with an education of what contemporary American dance was all about.
Learn more about Music of The Americas at www.myspace.com/musicoftheamericas