In the 1940s and '50s José Limón created dances in which heroic figures, imbued with monumental passions and flaws, engage in archetypal struggles. While many of his dances harkened back to the spare, modernist choreography of Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, as well as the great movement choirs of German Expressionism, he gave their powerful group dynamism, a muscular intensity, and startling freshness. The Northrop program includes two classic Limón works. His "Missa Brevis," written in response to what he called the "heroic serenity" of the Polish people and all those who fight oppression, is a masterpiece of architectural drama. The 21 performers (including 12 guest artists from the University of Minnesota Dance Program) move like a galvanized spiritual force working to rebuild their ravaged world. Zoltan Kodaly's splendid music will be sung live by the 60-member Oratorio Society of Minnesota. Limón drew on his Mexican Catholic heritage for "The Traitor," which centers on a sort of Judas figure who symbolizes all who betray their fellows and consequently suffer large-scale torment. And in honor of Limón's 100th birthday celebration, former principal dancer Clay Taliaferro has created "Into My Heart's House" to music by J.S. Bach.
Thu., March 19, 7:30 p.m., 2009