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José Limón: The Mestizo as Ambassador: About


The Mestizo as Ambassador


In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Limón Dance Company, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division has staged The Mestizo as Ambassador: José Limón and the Transculturation of American Modern Dance, a new installation that celebrates Mexican-American dancer and choreographer José Limón, one of the most prolific exponents of modern dance in the 20th century. This guide is not only an abridged version of the exhibition in order to share and preserve its contents, but also a guide to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division's resources used in crafting the exhibition. 

The contents of this guide were written in conjunction with guest co-curator and former Dance Research Fellow, Kiri Avelar, and featured in the exhibit The Mestizo as Ambassador: José Limón and the Transculturation of American Modern Dance, which will be up in the Library for the Performing Arts on the 1st and 2nd floors until May 7th, 2022. 




Limón’s life and work was defined by multiple identities and the liminal space that he inhabited between them. He was a closeted gay man who married and publicly presented as straight, he was a painter who later switched disciplines to dance and he was a Mexican by birth who grew up in America and faced the perennial immigrant sensation of being too much and too little in their various identities to belong anywhere. This portrait of Limón from his early work Hymn in 1934 by Helen Hewitt uncannily manifests the choreographic journey that Limón would undertake to reconcile the various facets of himself throughout his entire career.


 Dancer in profile view, leaping with chest thrust out and head bent back.

José Limón in Hymn by Helen Hewett, c. 1934.

Courtesy of NYPL's Digital Collections Portal, Image ID: 58285610

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Jerome Robbins Dance Division Reference Librarians
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Subjects: Performing Arts