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José Limón and La Malinche

The Dancer and the Dance

Edited by Patricia Seed

Publication Year: 2008

José Limón (1908–1972) was one of the leading figures of modern dance in the twentieth century. Hailed by the New York Times as “the finest male dancer of his time” when the José Limón Dance Company debuted in 1947, Limón was also a renowned choreographer who won two Dance Magazine Awards and a Capezio Dance Award, two of dance’s highest honors. In addition to directing his own dance company, Limón served as artistic director of the Lincoln Center’s American Dance Theater and also taught choreography at the Juilliard School for many years. In this volume, scholars and artists from fields as diverse as dance history, art history, Mesoamerican ethnohistory, Mexican American studies, music studies, and Mexican history come together to explore one of José Limón’s masterworks, the ballet La Malinche. Offering many points of entry into the dance, they examine La Malinche from various angles, such as Limón’s life story and the influence of his Mexican heritage on his work, an analysis of the dance itself, the musical score composed by Norman Lloyd, the visual elements of props and costumes, the history and myth of La Malinche (the indigenous woman who served the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés as interpreter and mistress), La Malinche’s continuing presence in Mexican American culture, and issues involved in a modern restaging of the dance. Also included in the book is a DVD written and directed by Patricia Harrington Delaney that presents the ballet in its entirety, accompanied by expert commentary that sets La Malinche within its artistic and historical context.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. ix-x

I would like to thank the Center for Humanities and the Center for the Study of Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine, for their generous support of Manuel Gómez’s translation of “José Limón and La Malinche in Mexico: A Chicano Artist Returns Home.” I would also like to thank editor extraordinaire Kathleen Much...

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pp. 1-19

During the 1950s and 1960s, one of the great Mexican American artists of the century traveled to more than a dozen countries in Europe and Latin America as a cultural ambassador of the United States. He trained a generation of students at New York’s famed Juilliard School in his technique, received two of the highest honors in his field...

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1. LA MALINCHE: The Inspiration for the Dance

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pp. 20-34

As a choreographer, José Limón was often most eloquent in creating compact dance-dramas with archetypal, mythic, or literary characters: The Moor’s Pavane, The Exiles, The Emperor Jones, and La Malinche. None is more powerful than the latter, the ballet created at the very start of Limon’s career, reconciling his artistic ambitions with his Mexican...

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pp. 35-49

La Malinche’s role in the Spanish Conquest has been a constant source of conflict in Mexican society, wavering according to the sociopolitical climate of the time. Was she a trusting and resourceful victim of circumstance? or a self-serving temptress/traitor? When the Limón Dance Company performed La Malinche in Mexico in 1951, they were...

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3. THE MUSIC: Interview with David LaMarche, Musical Director, Lim

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pp. 50-54

Patty Delaney: How would you describe your affi liation with the Limón Company? David LaMarche: I’m the music director of the Limón Company, and I believe I began my association with the company in their 50th anniversary season. I conducted the repertoire at the Joyce Theater, and we had a season shortly thereafter at Riverside Church. That...

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4. VISUAL COMMUNICATION: Props and Costumes

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pp. 55-78

Religious images, cultural motifs, paintings, photos of significant events, films, film clips, television and computer programs, plays, and other performances, live as well as recorded, form the visual heritage of a civilization. Both the props and costumes of José Limón’s La Malinche drew upon the rich visual tradition of Europe and the Americas...

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5. MARINA, MALINCHE, MALINTZIN: Nahua Women and the Spanish Conquest

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pp. 79-94

The variously named woman do

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pp. 95-118

The opening lines of a recent song by the popular norte

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7. JOS

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pp. 119-153

Mexican artists began to embrace modern dance in 1939, following the arrival of two North American women: Waldeen (known only by her first name; 1913–1993) and Anna Sokolow (1919–2000). Waldeen, whose performances had been coolly received by New York dance critics, found Mexico’s ethnic variety entrancing. She soon began composing...

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8. THE DIRECTOR: Thoughts on Staging José Limón’s La Malinche

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pp. 154-166

Alexander Pope, in his second Essay on Man, wrote, “[Man is] created half to rise, half to fall.” José Limón devoted his life to choreographing that thought. In many of his dramatic works man is either falling or being felled, often because of his own nature. This is true of Limón’s La Malinche, created in 1949 from the history, sights, and sounds of Mexico...


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pp. 167-182


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pp. 183-186


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pp. 187-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794467
E-ISBN-10: 0292794460
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717350
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717350

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 17 b&w photos, 1 DVD
Publication Year: 2008