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Photo courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation

“We believe that we are never more truly and profoundly human than when we dance.”

Picture of José Limón's signature
Picture of José Limón in "The Emperor Jones" a dance about Maximilian of Hasburg

Photo courtesy of the José Limón Dance Foundation

The José Limón Dance Foundation exists to perpetuate the Limón legacy and its humanistic approach to movement and theater, and to extend the vitality of that vision into the future, through performance, creation, preservation and education.

The José Limón Dance Foundation supports two entities: the Limón Dance Company, this country’s first modern dance repertory company, and the Limón Institute, an educational and archival resource center. In our home-base of New York City, the Limón Institute reaches close to 5,000 students and scholars annually through its education programs (including Limón4Kids), archival library, and New York City classes and workshops.

Founded in 1946 by José Limón and Doris Humphrey, the Limón Dance Company has been at the vanguard of American Modern dance since its inception and is considered one of the world’s greatest dance companies. Acclaimed for its dramatic expression, technical mastery and expansive, yet nuanced movement, the Limón Dance Company illustrates the timelessness of José Limón’s work and vision. The Company’s repertory, which includes classic works in addition to new commissions from contemporary choreographers, possesses an unparalleled breadth and creates unique experiences for audiences around the world.


Choreographer and dancer José Limón is credited with creating one of the world’s most important and enduring dance legacies— an art form responsible for the creation, growth and support of modern dance in this country. Numerous honors have been bestowed upon both Limón and the Company he founded in 1946, including most recently the White House’s 2008 National Medal of Arts for Lifetime Achievement. José Limón’s story is a powerful vehicle for reaching young people today. Immigrating to the United States from Mexico in 1918, Limón is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artistic exports, and a role model for Latinx communities throughout the United States. Limón4Kids is an important addition to the Institute’s mission, taking the Limón legacy directly into the classrooms of the most under-represented New York City public schools and community centers.


José Limón was one of the most prominent American choreographers in modern dance. His powerful choreography often focused on human drama, incorporating themes from literature, history or religion. Throughout his career, Limón worked to change the image of the male in dance and bring it to a new stature and recognition. Born in 1908 in Culiacan, Mexico, Limón moved to the United States with his family when he was seven years old. He became interested in dance at the age of twenty, after moving to New York City to study painting.  He began his studies with pioneer modern dancers Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, and was soon invited to join their company. In 1946 he founded his own company. Limón is best known for his masterpiece, The Moor's Pavane, based on Shakespeare's "Othello.”  He choreographed over seventy-four other works, including The Traitor, The Exiles, There is a Time, Chaconne, Emperor Jones, Carlota, Dances for Isadora, and The Unsung. José Limón died on December 2, 1972.  Today, the José Limón Dance Foundation continues his work through two entities: the Limón Dance Company, an international touring repertory company, and the Limón Institute, an educational and archival resource organization.

Picture of José Limón's signature

Photo by Barbara Morgan

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