Dancing in an Isolated World: The José Limón Foundation’s Innovative Response to a Global Pandemic

By Mia Lyndon (mialyndon@mail.com)

The dance scene, that we were once so familiar with, has been restricted, shut down and cancelled. Yet the dance industry is adapting and evolving at an exponential rate- quickly pathing new ways of surviving in this pandemic.

The José Limón Dance Foundation, a company forged upon decades of influence, is now developing a quickly evolving programme- that may be here to stay. With studio doors closing and touring halted, the Limón Foundation’s outreach has been revolutionised, positively impacting the restricted lives of dancers in the USA and far beyond. Previously rooted to its New York City studio origins, The José Limón Dance Foundation now exists within the homes of over 26,000 dancers- brought together by Instagram.

Broadcasting daily livestream videos onto the phone screens of dancers across the globe, lockdown hasn’t halted The José Limón Dance Foundation’s impact. Characterised by their ‘innovative dance style’, the NYC-based dance company told Audition Quest of how it has recently been ‘forced to realize there is a whole dance community online’, which has led to unparalleled benefits.

With daily classes honing ‘breath, weight, suspension, initiation and succession’, The José Limón Dance Foundation is enabling dancers -whether novices or professionals- to access world-class training from the comfort of their own bedrooms.

PHOTO CREDIT: Limón Dance Company shot by AnthonyCollins.nyc courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation

Despite the immense restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, The José Limón Dance Foundation is thriving, recently commenting that their online programs are ‘broadening the outreach of the Limón Legacy in an unimaginable way’. With a sudden burst of over 5,000 new Instagram followers within just a few weeks, the company is evolving, and inspiring fellow dancers in the process.

The classes, livestreamed daily at 3pm EST on Instagram (@limondance Instagram) are 60 minutes in length and completely free of charge. Taught by a team of The José Limón Dance Foundation’s professional dancers, they cover a syllabus of Limón contemporary technique and Pilates. Each class is tailored to fit within the confinements of your very own home and aim to fulfil the needs of each and every dancer- focusing upon both technique and expression.

In the pursuit of harnessing the benefits offered by the famed Limón technique, I tuned into The José Limón Dance Foundation’s @limondance Instagram channel on Thursday 28th May, for a daily Limón technique class.

Greeted by professional Limón dancer Kurt Douglas, participants were firstly guided through the concept of using your body as an ‘orchestra’, explaining how the body could ‘work together to create music’. After an inspiring introduction about the delicate qualities of the Limón technique, the class began, delightfully accompanied by musician John Lander.

The home-like setting of the class felt a million miles away from the typical grandeur of Limón’s studios, yet the quality of movement material was still very much there. Beginning with a phrase oozing breath and extension, Douglas challenged participants with intricate material that utilised the entirety of the body. There was an equal focus on technique and expression, encouraging participants to explore both their thoughts and physicality.

PHOTO CREDIT: Limón Dance Company shot by AnthonyCollins.nyc courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation

The class was fully-fleshed and informative, as well as enjoyable. Douglas talked through the anatomy and ergonomics of the body and how this could translate into movement. We received generic corrections, praise and encouragement throughout- the class was thoroughly upbeat and supportive, making it perfect for students and professionals alike.

Despite dancing almost 3000 miles away from New York City, the quality of video streaming and sound were fantastic- it was easy to forget that I was, in fact, dancing within my own home, rather than in an airy NYC studio.

There was a solid sense of connection, too. I felt electronically in-touch with other dancers, from all across the world, brought together by the intricacies of the Limón technique. We were dancing together and I could feel it- the connection between student and teacher still remained, even though it was casted through a screen.

I reached, threw, fell, recovered, contracted and rejoiced in the glow of the Limon technique, moving in and out of the floor. Space wasn’t an issue- the exercises had been tailored to fit within limited space, with Douglas encouraging interpretations and adaptations to suit your surroundings.

Limón’s distinctive technique envelopes the body in a succession of shapes, sequences and patterns- focusing on sustaining technique and intriguing the mind. Encouraging a sense of awareness and power, the class’ movement vocabulary was highly uplifting and perfectly compelling.

PHOTO CREDIT: Limón Dance Company shot by AnthonyCollins.nyc courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation

What a pleasure it was to re-immerse myself back into the delights of dancing- not just with any company, but with the calibre of The José Limón Dance Foundation. Being so highly adaptable and interpretive, the foundation’s classes allow for ultimate creative awareness, whilst still emphasising a solid basis of technique.

The José Limón Dance Foundation had told me of how they aimed to ‘reignite the passion and purpose in every dancer’, and this certainly is the case. Whether you’re a student, professional or dancing enthusiast, their online program ticks all the boxes- offering you so much more than just dance classes.

Exemplifying that dance can live on through adversity and isolation, José Limón Dance Foundation has rocked the dance industry with its glittering program of online classes- proving that dancers simply cannot be stopped.

After a successful first week-long online intensive that brought over 150 dancers together via ZOOM for ‘Home Edition I’, the José Limón Dance Foundation is planning for a mid-July ‘Home Edition II’ intensive.

This second edition of their ‘At Home Series’ is for new and experienced teachers looking to invigorate their practices and approaches to teaching through the Limón Principles.

(Pricing: $550 + $50 registration fee, dates, times and schedule coming soon to www.limon.org)

The José Limón Dance Foundation continues to offer daily classes on their Instagram channel (@limondance), with a program including beginner and intermediate Limón technique, Pilates and meditation. The classes are streamed daily on Instagram Live at 3PM EST, but are also available to watch on IGTV indefinitely.

The foundation also offer an eclectic range of events, training programs and intensives, all of which can be found on their website: limon.org

For inquiries please contact summer@limon.org

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