The José Limón Dance Foundation started Limón4Kids this year in New York City middle schools, and, following a successful three-week pilot, the program will continue in the fall.
“The idea is to introduce students to modern dance through Jose Limón’s personal story,” says Gabriela Poler-Buzali, executive director of the Foundation. “These are highly Hispanic communities, so we show him as a role model of how an immigrant can change the landscape of a field.”
The curriculum, developed by the company’s associate artistic director Roxane D’Orleans Juste, is inspired by Limón’s first piece for his company, La Malinche (1947). Students learn the story and explore movements based on the work’s three characters. Then, they create their own dances based on La Malinche to perform at a final assembly. There, they also see the original piece danced by the Limón Dance Company members who were their teachers.
This year, the program involved about 170 students at two schools, P.S. 187 in Washington Heights and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School/M.S. 74 in Queens, and a third school, Casita Maria in the Bronx, is already onboard for next year. The foundation hopes to eventually reach out to schools in all five boroughs and New Jersey. Info: www.limón.org
Photo: José Limón Dancers in La Malinche. By Nanette Melville, courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation.