A Portrait Of A Female Immigrant Artist, And A Dance Company, Harlem’s Frances Lorraine Samson

September 13, 2022

By Frances Lorraine Samson

My name is Frances Lorraine Samson and I am a Filipino immigrant artist living in Harlem, New York.

I am a professional dancer, reconstructor and arts educator interested in humanistic movement and the exploration of the body in relation to space.

My research has been primarily dedicated to the Jose Limon Dance Foundation and my performance accolades hail from being a soloist of the world-renowned Limon Dance Company (based in Harlem). 

“Founded in 1946, the Limón Dance Company has been at the vanguard of American modern dance since its inception and is credited with being one of the world’s most important and enduring dance legacies. The Limón Dance Company was the first group to tour under the auspices of the American Cultural Exchange Program (1954) and the first dance troupe to perform at Lincoln Center (1963). Numerous honors and awards have been bestowed upon both Limón and the Company, including the White House’s 2008 National Medal of Arts for Lifetime Achievement, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence”.

Mexican-born, Jose Limon, revolutionized art by offering a humanistic approach to movement and theatre.

At the forefront, the work represents communities and generations of voices. It is why the work speaks vastly and has proven to be timeless. 

Our upcoming 77th season highlights women. The women who paved the way, inspired and mentored the celebrated choreographer.

As a woman, an immigrant, a minority and an artist, I am honored to share our resiliency and highlight historically underrepresented voices, including my own.

Through this work, I have found a sense of belonging over the past six years. It is a privilege to be supported by a diverse group of people who all earnestly believe in unity. 

Sharing this legacy and speaking through art is why I sacrifice home.

We are currently in the process of re-staging the works to be presented in 2023, as we have a very demanding performance schedule in the fall as we are immersed in the work and collaborating with our reconstructors/guest artists.

Frances Lorraine Samson

Frances Samson is a New York based artist originally from Toronto, Canada. She trained at the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre (CCDT), performing nationally and internationally as a company dancer and guest artist.

Frances briefly attended Ryerson University’s School of Performance prior to officially joining the Limón Dance Company in the fall of 2017. As a company member, she has performed many of José Limón’s masterworks, as well as choreography by Doris Humphrey, Kate Weare, Francesca Harper, Madeline Hollander and Rosie Herrera.

Additionally, she has had the pleasure of performing for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Walt Disney World, TEDx, Miss Universe Canada, New York Fashion Week and Rotary International.

Frances is an artistic collaborator for WHITE WAVE Dance, Frog In Hand, and the multicultural project, The Gravity Between directed by Jacqueline Bulnes with original compositions by Niklas Emborg Gjersøe.

In both 2018 and 2019, she was a resident artist at the Danish National Academy of Music (sponsored by the Department of Global Affairs Canada), culminating in performances across Italy and Denmark. Frances was the Director of CCDT’s 2021 Young Apprentice Program and is currently a guest lecturer at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance.

She is a reconstructor for the José Limón Dance Foundation and is on faculty at the Limón Institute, teaching the Limón style of movement across Canada, Europe and the United States. https://www.instagram.com/frances_samson/?hl=en

Jose Limon 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 50,000 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.

The José Limón Dance Foundation, 466 West 152nd Street #2, New York, NY 10031, 212. 777.3353, info@limon.org, https://www.limon.nyc/

Photo credit: 1-3) Frances Samson by Samson Kelly Puleio.

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