The Contemporary Dance Technique of José Limón

José Limón pic
José Limón
Image: limon.org

At the Linda Jamieson School of Dance, students Level 2 or higher in the pre-professional senior program may take contemporary dance classes. The Linda Jamieson School of Dance centers its contemporary training on the techniques of professional dancers such as José Limón.

In 1928 the Mexican-born José Limón moved to New York City, where he encountered the work of modern dance innovators Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey. Limón went on to study with both artists and ultimately drew on these experiences to create a dance technique that emphasizes breath, weight, and fluidity of movement.

Limón technique requires the dancer to observe not only his or her body and its capabilities, but also how concepts like gravity and momentum work in ordinary activities. Limón and his mentors believed in using the body’s natural movement and its relationship to the forces of the Earth, and these manifest in the exploration of the extremes of movement.

Limón dancers immerse themselves in experiences of fall and recovery, suspension, rebound, and successive movement. The floor becomes a home base that the dancer emerges from and returns to in many different ways, exploring the potential of falling and rising. Breath informs each moment, and musicality helps to keep the work continuously connected with the human spirit.

The result of this work is a dance experience that connects the physical aspects of humanity with the emotional and spiritual. Feeling becomes of primary importance, and technical capacity is not an end in and of itself, but rather a means toward expression.

Three Benefits of Dance Instruction for Children

Performance Dance pic
Performance Dance
Image: jamiesondance.com

Located in Ottawa, Ontario, the Linda Jamieson School of Dance is a recognized leader in dance instruction. Led by renowned dancer and choreographer Linda Jamieson, the school is open to students as young as 3 years old.

While dance is valuable at every stage of life, it can be especially helpful for young students. Children who participate in dance classes reap many benefits, including:

Improved physical health. Dancing is a total body fitness activity. It can help children improve their coordination, balance, and range of motion, all of which are important during formative years. Just as importantly, dancing is fun and encourages children to love staying active.

Opportunities for self-expression and emotional growth. Dance is an inherently expressive art form, and it can help kids learn to channel their emotions into a positive activity. As students build confidence, dancing can also help them bolster their self-esteem.

A sense of discipline. Success in dance requires practice and dedication. Students who participate in dance lessons must learn to be focused. Consequently, they tend to perform better in math and science than their non-dancing peers. Dancers also achiever higher average SAT scores than their peers.

Elements of Turnout for Ballet Dancers

Ballet Dancers pic
Ballet Dancers
Image: jamiesondance.com

At the Linda Jamieson School of Dance, ballet students may study in either the recreational or the pre-professional program. Students are allowed into the pre-professional ballet program at the Linda Jamieson School of Dance by audition only. The pre-professional training follows the world-renowned Royal Academy of Dance curriculum.

For the ballet dancer, turnout refers to the rotation of the leg from hips to toes. It involves not only the ability to achieve rotation but also the strength to hold this position throughout an exercise or phrase. It starts with flexibility of the hips, which depends partially on such congenital factors as the natural outward angle of the femur and the lateral orientation of the hip socket opening.

Structure of the bones are not in a dancer’s control, but it is possible to strengthen the rotator muscles that allow the body to achieve its maximum turnout potential. Dancers may also work on increasing their ability to focus and control those muscles, so that they can maintain maximum rotation as long as possible.

At the same time, dancers must be careful not to force the result. It is a good thing to work toward maximum rotation throughout a class, but many dancers attempt to work beyond natural turnout and end up rolling in on the ankles. This can lead to injuries in the feet, the knees, and even the back, whereas maintaining alignment can keep a dancer performing safely for much longer.

The Movement Philosophy of Martha Graham

Martha Graham  pic
Martha Graham
Image: marthagraham.org

At the Linda Jamieson School of Dance, pre-professional students have the opportunity to learn contemporary technique. Contemporary dance training at the Linda Jamieson School of Dance begins at the grade two level and focuses on the styles of Martha Graham and Jose Limon.

Known as one of the founders of modern dance, Martha Graham developed an innovative technique that changed the rules of performance. She conceptualized dance as a way of translating the human experience into movement. Focused on examining and illuminating inner life, she created choreography that made the emotions manifest and infused every movement with meaning.

Martha Graham believed that technique and form allow the dancer to achieve the fullest possible range of expression. She taught her dancers to contract and release, which served as a representation of such inner conflicts as weakness versus strength and fear versus bravery. She envisioned the pelvis as the stable point in the body and the initiation point of movement, and she taught articulations and spirals with this concept in mind.

Ms. Graham emphasized full exploration of space and use of the floor. Falls became ventures into the unknown, as well as explorations of submitting to and battling against gravity, while work on the floor became a way of drawing energy from the environment.

Even today, the work of Martha Graham informs and supports the modern and contemporary dancer. Technique intersects with expression to create symbolic representations of life in the world, and the technique remains as relevant as it ever was.