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Concert honors contemporary classic

April 17, 2007

ASU Herberger College Dance is honored to present José Limón's “Missa Brevis” on the 60th 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 on ASU's 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 lifelong 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 Co., cast as a soloist in Missa Brevis by Limón himself while she was a freshman at UCLA.

“José's roots were in Catholic Mexico,” Watt says. “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.' 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, “Wonderland,” by Kristin Tovson, “Katrina,” by Cliff Keuter, and “No,” by Elina Mooney.

Tickets for “Poetry Both Fierce and Fragile” range in price from $7 to $20 and are available through the Herberger College Box Office by calling (480) 965-6447, or by visiting the Web site 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.