Teaching Tips

#LetUsLessonPlanForYou: A Fall-and-Recovery Phrase and All About Limón

Limón, Lucas Hoving and Pauline Koner in Limón's Symphony for Strings. Photo by Matthew Wysocki, courtesy of Dance Magazine archives
Roxane D'Orléans Juste has been dancing with the Limón Dance Company since 1983, and she is currently the associate artistic director of the company. Here, she teaches a successive fall-and-recovery phrase from the Limón technique.


But what about the man behind the technique? Charismatic performer, prolific choreographer and model of elegance, José Limón (1908–1972) sought to humanize modern dance. Although it was never codified, his technique that incorporated Doris Humphrey's theories of fall and recovery with an emphasis on breath and weight is considered a crucial component of the modern dance lexicon.

The Work
Limón choreographed 74 works in his lifetime, several of which remain in the repertory of the Limón Dance Company.

The Moor's Pavane (1949): This moving adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, widely considered Limón's greatest piece, has been performed by several ballet companies and remained in Rudolf Nureyev's repertory for years.
A Choreographic Offering (1964): This large-scale ensemble piece was a love letter to Doris Humphrey, drawn entirely from movement of her past dances.
Psalm (1967): The score by Eugene Lester was composed in response to counts that Limón gave each day for company member Daniel Lewis to hand-deliver as the piece progressed.

The Legacy Lives On

The Limón Dance Company was the first modern dance company to survive its founder. Limón believed that one should “revere and conserve, but not embalm, the treasure of the past." He kept many of his own works in the company's repertory while also presenting new choreography. Former company members and Limón students who have created their own work include Garth Fagan, Pauline Koner, Daniel Lewis, Lar Lubovitch and Jennifer Muller.
Teachers Trending
Photo by Yvonne M. Portra, courtesy Faulkner

It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Music
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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

As you continue to explore a hybrid online/in-person version of your class schedule, it's crucial that your music licenses include coverage for livestreamed instruction—which comes with its own particular requirements. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing—in both normal times and COVID times—as well as some safe music bets that won't pose any issues.

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Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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