For the first time in well over a decade, the Limón Dance Foundation will have all of its people, company members and administrators under one roof. Instead of renting studio space all over the city for the dancers’ rehearsals, a separate location for open classes and the Professional Student Program, and multiple sites for administrative offices, the company will finally have a single place to call home. As remarkable as that is for a company that has been a foundational root of the modern American dance scene since the 1940s, it is even more remarkable that this new roof is one built by another great American dance institution, the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) has opened its doors at the bright and spacious Everett Center for the Performing Arts, and, with the Limón Dance Company rehearsing and offering classes just down the hallway, the partnership could change the landscape of dance in uptown Manhattan. DanceNYC and the Harlem Arts Alliance joined the two dance companies along with an eager crowd at their open house in celebration of Limón’s new residency, expressing joy and support at what Limón can add to the community and develop in collaboration with DTH.
“I’ve spent most of my life in these studios, and it makes sense,” shares DTH Artistic Director Virginia Johnson. “The idea that there is another organization here making art…aspiring to a communication higher than anything else, is precious. We are rubbing shoulders, sharing air, ideas are percolating…it is a sacred space in that sense.”
The sentiments are shared by many. “It’s really nice for the dancers to have one place to go, have their own lockers, and not have to worry about where to go for the next rehearsal,” says Limón Executive Director Juan José Escalante. “Artistically, there is definitely that potential. Call it similar vision…there is plenty of room to collaborate and share the space. It’s all possible, and we can begin to discuss artistic goals since the logistics of sharing a home are working out.”
There are still many elements to iron out, though, since the residency got off to a whirlwind start. “We are having those conversations,” says Escalante. “This thing all just started in May, and it was obviously such a great idea that by the middle of July the company started rehearsing there, and by early August they had the administration move into offices there.”
Now that they have established the company home, the Limón Foundation can figure out how and when to offer classes to the community, as well as moving its Professional Studies Program (PSP), which is currently all taking place at Peridance Capezio Center more than 130 blocks downtown.
“The opportunity to bring everything together under one roof brings a lot of efficiency,” explains Escalante. “Walk a few steps, and we are in same studio with the dancers. It’s part of strategic plan for the future of Limón, through which we will embark on several initiatives, including the school. We are analyzing how to make the classes available to PSP students and to the community. The PSP has students from all over the world, and it has been limited in the amount of students we can accept due to space. The DTH building is big and has multiple studios available, so the program could easily expand.”
Members of the Limón, DTH, Harlem, and greater NYC community hope that this residency will become a long-term, supportive, encouraging and fruitful partnership. As Linda Walton, executive director of the Harlem Arts Alliance, points out, “Dance Theatre of Harlem has been a pillar of this community for many years. We are so happy about this wonderful partnership…creating more links with dance.”
With the Dance Theatre of Harlem in its 46th year, and the Limón Company in its 70th, there is a whole lot to celebrate when these two legendary American dance companies come together under one roof.
By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): DanceNYC featuring Limón Dance Company and The Dance Theatre of Harlem. Photo by Samantha L Lawton.