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José Limón: The Mestizo as Ambassador: Resources on Collaborators


Like many great artists, José Limón had a host of mentors, supporters, and collaborators who helped to create the finals works that made it to the stage. From fellow choreographers, to artists and designers, they all brought something to his creations and deserve their place alongside Limón. Evidence of this collaboration is certainly present in the Dance Division's holdings on Limón, but many of them have their own distinct collections, expanding the story of their collaboration but also their own individual work. Below is just a selection of our great resources related to important figures to Limón's development as an artist



Doris Humphrey collection, 1811-1938

Call Number: *MGZMC -Res. 3

Finding Aid:

The collection of personal manuscript materials of Doris Humphrey, American modern dance pioneer, choreographer, dancer, teacher, and writer, reflects all phases of her life and career. 


Doris Humphrey Letters, 1898-1941

Call Number: *MGZMD 25

Finding Aid:

The vast majority of the collection consists of letters written to Doris Humphrey from relatives, friends, and professional associates. 


Doris Humphrey Papers, 1925-1958

Call Number: *MGZMD 28

Finding Aid:

Majority of materials include correspondence between Doris Humphrey and José Limón and/or Pauline Lawrence, essays, lectures, choreographic and production notes, photographs, and postcards.


Pauline Koner Papers, 1905-2000

Call Number: *MGZMD 138

Finding Aid:

The papers of Pauline Koner (1905-2000) consist of material documenting Koner’s dance career as a choreographer, dancer, dance teacher, author and lecturer. Writings, programs, photographs, teaching notes, as well as choreography and lighting notes constitute the vast majority of the collection. 


Interview with Pauline Koner 

Call Number: *MGZTL 4-355

Catalog Record:




Staff Pick: Partners in Dance and Life


Several women - Doris Humphrey, Pauline Koner, Ruth St. Denis, May O'Donnell, Pauline Lawrence, and others - played prominent roles in the development and success of José Limón's dancing and choreography. These important personal and working relationships are reflected in the cross-pollination of materials among a number of the Dance Division's archival collections, like the intimate correspondence from Lawrence to both Humphrey and Limón in the Doris Humphrey papers (*MGZMD 28), programs from Limón's brief period dancing with O'Donnell in the May O'Donnell and Ray Green papers (*MGZMD 299), and Limón's U.S. naturalization certificate and WWII discharge papers in the Pauline Lawrence Limón collection (*MGZMD 15).

Partners in dance and life, the strongest evidence of these connections appears in several collections belonging to Limón and Lawrence. Born in California, Pauline Lawrence (1900-1971) was hired as a rehearsal pianist and occasional dancer for the Denishawn Company in 1917. There she met fellow Company members Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, following them when they left Denishawn to head to New York City in the late 1920s. After assisting with the business aspects of the newly-formed Humphrey-Weidman Company and School, in 1941 Lawrence and Humphrey and Weidman's student Limón married. She quickly took charge of the business management of the Limón's career and his Company when it was formed in 1946. In addition to her shrewd financial awareness, Lawrence also frequently collaborated with Limón as the Company's music supervisor and costume designer, and the five sketches for Limón's 1937 Danzas Mexicanas - including the Revolutionary, Caballero, Peon, Conquistador, and Indio - demonstrate her creative contributions to Limon's works and legacy.


- Jennifer Eberhardt, Collections and Exhibitions Librarian 



Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, 1934-1958

Call Number: *MGZMD 15

Finding Aid:

The Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection mainly documents the early years of the José Limón Dance Company and the years immediately preceding the company's inception. 


Costume Designs by Pauline Lawrence Limón

Call Number: *MGZGV 12-2312  

Catalog Record:


La danza prehispánica, por Miguel Covarrubias.

Call Number: MGZMB 84-894  

Catalog Record:

Miguel Covarrubias' essay on the pre-Columbian dance history. Illustrations (21 leaves) include several ink drawings and 12 photographs by Jacqueline Roberts, Nacho Lopez, and Juan Guzmán.


Scrapbook of Rosa Covarrubias

Call Number: *MGZRS 85-1067

Catalog Record:

Scrap book kept by Rose Covarrubias (née Rolanda) from 1921-1940. Material is chiefly from 1921-25 and comprises newspaper and magazine reviews and articles, programs, telegrams, some correspondence, and two poems (manuscript) about the dancer.


Thomas Skelton Papers, c. 1953-1994

Call Number: *MGZMD 115

Finding Aid:

The Thomas Skelton papers represent his professional career as lighting designer from the early 1950s to his death in 1994. Materials related to Limón works included are plots and designs for Moor's Pavane (1949), Emperor Jones (1956), Missa Brevis (1958), and many others. 



Pencil sketch of shirtless man wearing two bandoliers around his torso. Right arm and leg are bent, while the left arm and leg are stretched downwards.

Costume sketch for Revolutionary by Pauline Lawrence Limón for "Danzas Mexicanas," c. 1931.

*MGZMD 15,  Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Image ID

Pencil sketch of man in long dress coat with tails and high shoulders. He is standing in fourth position with one hand held out.

Costume sketch for Caballero Pauline Lawrence Limón for "Danzas Mexicanas," c. 1931.

*MGZMD 15,  Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Image ID 58285869

Pencil sketch of shirtless man with blanket hung over right shoulder. He holds a large brimmed hat in one hand.

Costume sketch for Peon Pauline Lawrence Limón for "Danzas Mexicanas," c. 1931.

*MGZMD 15,  Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Image ID 58285870.

Pencil sketch of man in cuirass with armored hands and legs. Also wears a millstone collar and is holding a broadsword parallel to his body.

Costume sketch for Conquistador Pauline Lawrence Limón for "Danzas Mexicanas," c. 1931.

*MGZMD 15,  Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Image ID 58285871.

Pencil sketch of shirtless man with short rough skirt around waist. His knees are bent with arms stretched towards the earth.

Costume sketch for Indio Pauline Lawrence Limón for "Danzas Mexicanas," c. 1931.

*MGZMD 15,  Pauline Lawrence Limón Collection, Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Image ID 58285872.

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