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How José Limón's Cultural Identity Influenced Three of His Choreographic Works: Danzas Mexicanas (1939), La Malinche (1949), and Missa Brevis (1958)


This research focuses on the life and work of José Limón, (1908-1972), one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century modern concert dance. The way in which his Mexican and immigrant heritage influenced his unique contribution to American modern dance will be discussed in relation to three of his works: Danzas Mexicanas (1939), La Malinche (1949), and Missa Brevis (1958). As a dancer of Mexican heritage, I seek to better understand my artistic path and potential through this study of José Limón.

The introduction includes a brief description of José Limón's personal and professional life, and my connection to it as a Latina dance artist. The first three chapters present analysis of three Limón choreographies selected because they exemplify his deeply rooted and personal invocations of Mexican culture and an introspective relationship to self-identity and community. The final chapter is a description of my thesis concert inspired by José Limón's life and work.

The sources of information used in this work are books, academic articles, newspapers, archival documents, magazines, and photographs. This thesis includes interviews with artists who worked with Limón, danced in his company, and continue to dedicate their artistic endeavours to his work.

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