Carrying on a dancer's legacy

Stackhouse teaches Simon work to KU students

For the past week, choreographer Sarah Stackhouse has been setting excerpts of Jose Limon's "A Choreographic Offering" with Kansas University dance students.

Stackhouse danced with the Jose Limon Company from 1958 to 1969 as a principal dancer and partner to its founder. She returned to the company after a 20-year absence to revive many of Limon's major works.


Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

Choreographer Sarah Stackhouse is completing a two-week residency with Kansas University dance students. She is teaching excerpts from a work by Jose Limon, which will be performed Friday at the Collage Concert at the Lied Center.

But reviving a work does not mean copying it move by move.

"It's important to acknowledge the artist and what we see that he did, and it's important to bring ourselves to it as well," Stackhouse said. "I dislike imitation. It has little value � it has a value as a learning tool, but we have to allow ourselves to find our own voice as artists, teachers or thinking people in order to grow up."

During her two-week residency at KU, Stackhouse will set excerpts from the 50-minute "A Choreographic Offering," which is danced to J.S. Bach's "Musical Offering." One work is a quintet of four males and a female solo. The second uses 23 dancers.

"The motifs are from the work of Doris Humphrey, who was Jose's teacher. This was a farewell to her," she said, explaining that Limon created the work after Humphrey's death.

After creating "A Choreographic Offering," Limon began turning to more physically innovative choreography. At the end of his life, he returned to creating works that were inspired by Humphrey's style.

"He had an indomitable spirit. He didn't let anything stand in his way. He used his imagination and human power to do whatever needed to be done. To him that was to make beauty, an expression of the richness of human kind."

An excerpt from Jose Limon's "A Choreographic Offering" will be performed by University Dance Company at the Collage Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Lied Center.Excerpts from the work also will be featured Nov. 21-22 at the University Dance Company concert at the Lied Center.

Stackhouse has taught at the Juilliard School, the American Dance Festival and the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. Her many residencies include visits to Europe, India, Hong Kong and China. She recently completed a monthlong residency at the ATV Academy for Performing Arts in Guangdong Province in China, where she taught technique and set Limon's "There Is A Time."

Students often ask Stackhouse if she thinks they are talented enough to succeed in the dance world. Her answer: If a student is questioning his or her abilities and commitment, a dancing career should not be pursued any further.

"Jose would say 90 percent of talent is the ability to work," she said. "I think it (takes) desire, the ability to work and the love for it. Of course, physical talent is a gift and we always hope for that. � It's having that special flame inside that let's you see life and see beauty and make use of it."


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