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Dance concert honors José Limón masterpiece, Missa Brevis


"Missa Brevis", L-R, Aaron McGloin, David Trujillo, Doug Baum, Andrew Balderamma

Photo Credit: Tim Trumble


Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

March 28, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. – ASU Herberger College Dance is honored to present José Limón’s Missa Brevison the 50th anniversary of its creation. Limón’s masterwork, along with a new piece created by award-winning choreographer Robert Moses, are the center of a moving dance concert,Poetry Both Fierce and Fragile, running April 19-22, in the Galvin Playhouse, ASU Tempe Campus.

Limón created his spiritually moving piece in 1958 in response to a post-war tour of Poland. Among the ruins of Poland’s war-scarred countryside, Limón was inspired: his life-long struggle with his faith, as well as his intense spirituality, expressed itself in his stirring choreography which depicts the indomitable spirit of humanity, rising after near destruction.

The piece is set upon ASU Herberger College Dance students by guest artist Nina Watt, recognized as “a perfect Limón dancer” by the New York Times. She is a 30-year veteran of the Limón Dance Company, cast as a soloist in Missa Brevis by Limón himself while she was a freshman at UCLA.

“José’s roots were in Catholic Mexico. In Catholic Poland, he saw the rubble and yet the strength of the people’s faith. I think he discovered that his spirituality lived through his art. He said, ‘To me, the theater is a temple.’ For that reason, I always want to do Missa,” said Watt. “It is a gift to me and I know what a wonderful experience it has been for the students. It gets inside your soul.”

Award-winning guest choreographer Robert Moses, known for his powerful combination of athletic technique, rhythmic complexity and fusion of dance styles, also has created a piece for the concert, My Real Strength Always Lay in Hoping. His work explores topics ranging from the dark side of contemporary urban culture to the joyous expression of pure movement.

Other original choreography to be performed in the concert includes, Is There Any Other Way, by Travis Mesman; Wonderlandby Kristin Tovson; Katrina by Cliff Keuter; and No by Elina Mooney. 

Tickets for Poetry Both Fierce and Fragile are $7-$20 and available through the Herberger College Box Office, 480-965-6447, or online at herbergercollege.asu.edu/mainstage/The concert runs April 19-21, 7:30 p.m. and April 22, 2 p.m.

A 90th birthday celebration for modern dance pioneer, former ASU dance professor and Tempe resident Daniel Nagrin follows the Sunday matinee of Poetry, on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza.  Cake will be served.

“Missa Brevis, by José Limón, was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece: Dance initiative administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts with Dance/USA.”

The Department of Dance is a division of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. Dance Teacher magazine says “the top-notch dance program graduates dancers who aren’t merely accomplished technicians, but critical thinkers and socially conscious advocates of the art form as well.”  To learn more, visit dance.asu.edu

Limón created his spiritually moving piece in 1958 in response to a post-war tour of Poland. Among the ruins of Poland’s war-scarred countryside, Limón was inspired: his life-long struggle with his faith, as well as his intense spirituality, expressed itself in his stirring choreography which depicts the indomitable spirit of humanity, rising after near destruction.

The piece is set upon ASU Herberger College Dance students by guest artist Nina Watt, recognized as “a perfect Limón dancer” by the New York Times. She is a 30-year veteran of the Limón Dance Company, cast as a soloist in Missa Bravis by Limón himself while she was a freshman at UCLA.

“José’s roots were in Catholic Mexico. In Catholic Poland, he saw the rubble and yet the strength of the people’s faith. I think he discovered that his spirituality lived through his art. He said, ‘To me, the theater is a temple.’ For that reason, I always want to do Missa,” said Watt. “It is a gift to me and I know what a wonderful experience it has been for the students. It gets inside your soul.”

Award-winning guest choreographer Robert Moses, known for his powerful combination of athletic technique, rhythmic complexity and fusion of dance styles, also has created a piece for the concert, My Real Strength Always Lay in Hoping. His work explores topics ranging from the dark side of contemporary urban culture to the joyous expression of pure movement.

Other original choreography to be performed in the concert includes, Is There Any Other Way, by Travis Mesman; Wonderlandby Kristin Tovson; Katrina by Cliff Keuter; and No by Elina Mooney. 

Tickets for Poetry Both Fierce and Fragile are $7-$20 and available through the Herberger College Box Office, 480-965-6447, or online at herbergercollege.asu.edu/mainstage/The concert runs April 19-21, 7:30 p.m. and April 22, 2 p.m.

A 90th birthday celebration for modern dance pioneer, former ASU dance professor and Tempe resident Daniel Nagrin follows the Sunday matinee of Poetry, on the Nelson Fine Arts Plaza.  Cake will be served.

“Missa Bravis, by José Limón, was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece: Dance initiative administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts with Dance/USA.”

The Department of Dance is a division of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. Dance Teacher magazine says “the top-notch dance program graduates dancers who aren’t merely accomplished technicians, but critical thinkers and socially conscious advocates of the art form as well.”  To learn more, visit dance.asu.edu



Media Contact:
Laura Toussaint 
480.965.8796
laura.toussaint@asu.edu