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News, 5-26: Pavane for a Dancer
Limon Legend Carlos Orta Passes Away
By Dance Insider Staff
Copyright 2004 The Dance Insider
NEW YORK -- Carlos Orta,
for more than 20 years a prototypical interpreter of the works of
Jose Limon and an eloquent Othello in Limon's 1949 "Moor's Pavane,"
died suddenly on the afternoon of May 15 at the corner of Houston
and Broadway, not far from the studios of the Limon Institute, where
he taught, of an apparent heart attack, according to friends. (At
press time, autopsy results were not available.) Limon Dance Company
artistic mentor Donald McKayle confirmed the news to the Dance Insider.
"I received a phone
call from (company director) Carla Maxwell on Sunday morning (May
16) to tell me this tragic news," McKayle told the DI in an e-mail
message, following a query based on reports the DI had received.
"Carla was the first
person they called," McKayle said. "Her name was at the front of
the address book he was carrying. Because she was not a relative,
they could not give her any details. There will be an autopsy, because
of the nature of his death." Orta was reportedly alone when he passed
away. "He was a man in the best of health all the time, full of
life, always with many interesting projects in the works. He had
an active professional life here and in his native country, Venezuela.
His dance company, CoreoArte, had a summer residency with Limon
a few years back. I met Carlos in the mid- '70s in Koln at the International
Sommer Academie. He was a wonderful dancer and a man of great creativity
in every aspect of his life. I will miss him."
Orta, 60, performed
as a member of the Limon Dance Company from 1979 to 2000, and also
appeared with the Folkwang Ballett, Tanztheater Wuppertal, and the
Koln Tanz-Forum. As a choreographer, he'd created works for Tanz-Forum,
Netherlands Dance Theatre, and the Limon company. In his native
Venezuela, he made work for the Ballet Nuevo Mundo, the Chamber
Ballet of Caracas and Danza Hoy. The International Academy of Dance
in Koln awarded Mr. Orta the Audience Prize in 1975 and the Jury
Prize in 1976 for his choreography. In 1983, Orta founded his own
Venezuelan company, CoreoArte Dance Company, with Noris Ugueto.
In August, 1985, the Venezuelan government honored him with its
highest artistic recognition, the Prize of Dance. Orta has been
a member of the Dance Committee of International Theater Institute/UNESCO
since June, 1995. At the time of his passing, he was also on the
faculty of the Limon Institute.
Orta became the signature
Othello in Limon's take on the Shakespeare tragedy. Reviewing a 1999 performance at
the Joyce Theater, the New York Times's Leslie Kandell wrote, "With
long expressive hands, free arm movements and scarlet velvet robe,
Carlos Orta makes a compelling Moor -- loving, kicking, stiff-arming
and lamenting, strongly in contrast to the sweet innocence of his
bride (Roxane D'Orleans Juste) and to the hawklike whisperings of
his poisonous friend...."
According to Limon executive
director Mark Jones, Orta's death came as he was about to begin
rehearsals for a play by Federico Garcia Lorca being presented at
the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. When Jones last encountered
him, the day before he died, Orta was "very excited about this stage
will be held tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday night, beginning at
7:30 p.m., at the Puffin Room, 435 Broome Street.
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