Hispanic Heritage Month

Repertory Dance Theatre believes that all peoples, their cultures, and their art contribute to the meaning and understanding of our humanity and should be honored and celebrated.

RDT firmly stands against racism in all forms. We, as a Company, denounce racism, bigotry, and intolerance in our state and across the nation. We are committed to learning, growing, and listening as we work toward a more equitable world for all.

RDT stands in solidarity with our communities of color. We stand for equity and inclusion and we stand against racism. We have a priority to have a company of racially diverse dancers who are skilled ambassadors for the benefit of a racial and culturally diverse society.

Repertory Dance Theatre relishes the diversity of thought and action. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for this company and all our patrons to reflect on many of the amazing and influential dancers and choreographers of Hispanic heritage in the history of dance.

For Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, RDT will highlight some alumni dancers, as well as choreographers that are part of our expansive repertory.

Jose Limon (1908-1972) was a crucial figure in the development of modern dance; his powerful dancing shifted perceptions of the male dancer, while his choreography continues to bring a dramatic vision of dance to audiences around the world.  Born in Mexico, Limon moved to New York City in 1928 after a year at UCLA as an art major.  It was here that he saw his first dance program.

 

In 1946, after studying and performing for 10 years with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, he established his own company with Humphrey as Artistic Director.  During her tenure, Humphrey choreographed many  pieces for the Limon Dance Company, and it was under her experienced directional eye that Limon created his signature dance, The Moor’s Pavane (1949).  Limon’s choreographic works were quickly recognized as masterpieces and the Company itself became a landmark of American Dance.  Many of his dances—There is a Time, Missa Brevis, Psalm, The Winged—are considered classics of modern dance.

 

Limon was a consistently productive choreographer until his death in 1972—he choreographed at least one new piece each year and he was also an influential teacher and advocate for modern dance.  He was in residence each summer at the American Dance Festival, a key faculty member in The Juilliard School’s Dance Division beginning in 1953, and the director of Lincoln Center’s American Dance Theatre from 1964-65.  Limon received two Dance Magazine Awards, the Capezio Award and honorary doctorates from four universities in recognition of his achievements.  He was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Dance Heroes of Jose Limon (Fall 1996) and in 1997 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY.  His autobiographical writings, An Unfinished Memoir, were edited by Lynn Garafola and published in 1999 by Wesleyan University Press.

Missa Brevis (1958)

Choreography:  José Limón
Music by:  Zoltan Kodaly
Reconstruction and Direction by:  Nina Watt

José Limón choreographed this piece in 1958 after touring Europe.  He was personally struck by war-torn Poland.  The cities were in ruins, yet the people’s hope and optimism surprised him.  Limon wrote, “These people are vital and undefeated, they are without rancor, without hatred.  They have a heroic serenity.  I found this inspiring.  I’m going to do a dance about it.”  Limon offered this work as his “prayer for peace” and as a celebration of the capacity within the human spirit to rise again out of the ashes.  Limon’s stirring choreography depicts an indomitable humanity rising up after near destruction.  It is a memento to cities destroyed during WWII and to those unconquerable qualities in human beings that compel the spirit to rise in hope and to survive.

 

Zoltan Kodaly, the Hungarian composer, wrote, “Missa Brevis is Tempore Belli” at the end of WWII.  It was completed under great hardship during the siege of Budapest.  It is a Mass in time of war.  Though Kodaly’s home was devastated, his manuscripts were later recovered intact.  Its first performance was given in the cellar of a bombed-out church in Budapest.

 

Lesson Plans for José Limón
From An Artist
Efren Corado Garcia
What impact has the arts had on your life? 

My colleague and friend Justin Bass once said, “ you read about it, while we dance it!”  while working with RDT I realized the importance of history in our communities. It took me years to realize I was embodying history, and even though it wasn’t a representation of my own journey, I learned respect for telling a story. The underbelly of the arts is that as a part of the creative process, one quickly learns that nothing you do is your own. One learns to share stories of the past, your body as a tool, and to support dreams of the community. I spent six years dancing with Repertory Dance Theater and much of that time was promoting the stories of communities who faced war, social suppression, the magic found in our natural environment, and a quirky interpretation of a tennis match. The tools we encounter by learning other dances we use to create our own. Dance is a complex language and so is storytelling. There are times when these two complex systems work together in a beautiful duet.

I have used my dance-making skills to tell my own story. Born in Guatemala, I migrated to the United States at the age of 11.  As I was about to leave RDT I decided to create one last dance. In a group effort, a small group of five and myself created what I imagined as the story reflecting my time in Guatemala, traveling through Mexico, and the feelings of looking back as an adult. There were a lot of emotions to unpack, and characters to discover, and dance became a tool to bring those characters to life. I was able to share my story through movement!

Even though I no longer practice dance, outside of my kitchen, to me it has served as a connector between the life my body shares with this world, and language used to interpret the life we live.

A black and white headshot of Efren Corado Garcia

Efren Corado Garcia has been a resident of Salt Lake City for over 10 years. His story started in Guatemala and as a first-generation immigrant, grew up in California until making a move to attend the University of Utah. Efren performed with Repertory Dance Theatre for six seasons, however, his dance life started in high school and flourished in California while attending Santa Ana Community College.  After completing his time at the University of Utah, Efren worked with the Humanities Council and taught at Utah Valley University before joining RDT.  Since his departure from RDT Efren moved to work for Salt Lake County under the Division of Arts and Culture. Efren now sits in the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office as an advisor to the mayor in the role of the Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

RDT appreciates the generous funding provided by the Utah Legislature and the Utah Board of Education that help make our Arts-in-Education Programs possible in Utah's Public Schools.