Limon Dance Company | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Limon Dance Company

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It's hard to imagine a marriage between this company--a classic purveyor of modern dance started in 1947 by Jose Limon (who died in 1972)--and Evanston-based Billy Siegenfeld, whose Jump Rhythm Jazz Project performs his unique brand of syncopated movement to classic jazz and musical-theater songs. Yet the Limon troupe's current artistic director, Carla Maxwell, commissioned Siegenfeld to create If Winter, a piece in three sections set to music by Chicagoan Patricia Barber, as part of its "Limon and jazz" initiative. In a video interview, Siegenfeld talks about jazz and modern dance both being American forms and says his style made more sense to the Limon dancers when he told them it came out of Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers--during a rehearsal he also had them reciting the alphabet in syncopated bursts, shaking their hands, and bouncing to get into his technique. I hope it worked: I've enjoyed the sections I've seen performed by Siegenfeld's troupe, but they're trained in his huffing-and-puffing loose-limbed style, which is quite different from the lifted, airy classicism of Limon and his mentor, Doris Humphrey. (One New York reviewer did call the Limon company's performance of If Winter "a tour de force rhythm locomotive.") Also on the program--the company's first performance here since 1996--is a revival of Humphrey's 1949 Invention (which critic Tobi Tobias praised as a piece that "reveals the body, buoyant with its own breath, as a dynamic entity in a vast unadorned space and trusts these sheer physical elements to convey emotional implications"); Susanne Linke's 1976 Transfiguration; Maxwell's Etude, choreographed for the latest Olympics; and Maxwell's restaging of Limon's 1967 Psalm. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300 or 312-902-1500. Friday, March 8, 8 PM. $38.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Beatriz Schiller.

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