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Undergraduate Researchers

Franki Trout, Dance

Investigating the Technique and Legacy of José Limón

Faculty Mentor: Mr. Doug Hamby


José Limón was a leading founder of American modern dance and a major influence in the dance world during his lifetime. Even after his death in 1972, his legacy continues in the bodies of the dancers in the José Limón Dance Company who perform his choreography and continue to teach his technique. The only way to learn this technique is to go to the source and learn from the people who practice and live it every day. The ideas and principles of Limón technique are passed down from generation to generation and would be lost without dancers willing to learn and share this knowledge. My research involves learning this specific technique and the principles of fall and recovery, breath, suspension, and musicality that are characteristic of it. I plan to apply these ideas to my own artistic vision and create a dance performance work that uses the principles of Limón technique in a new and exciting way. Through the creation of this work I will share my new knowledge of Limón’s choreographic and technical methods with my UMBC dance peers. My new dance will demonstrate that the blending of dance ideas and practices from artists of the past is valuable to a dance world that is constantly evolving and changing. 

How did you find your mentor for this project?

Doug Hamby is a prominent figure in the UMBC Dance Department and although I have never had him as a teacher, I have gotten to know him through various performance and dance opportunities. He has also been a mentor for other dance students granted Undergraduate Research Awards in the past and I knew he would be an experienced mentor.

How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?

I took a modern dance class in Limón technique with Carol Hess during my first semester at UMBC and found it really exciting. I knew I wanted to keep learning about and dancing this technique and the URA has given me the opportunity to do that. 

Is this your first independent research project?

Yes, this is my first independent research project.

Do you get course credit for this work?

I will be enrolled in a course designed for independent study for dance in the fall, where I will be continuing work on this project. 

How much time do you put into it?

After the two-week-long program this summer, I will be working with my dancers for two to three hours each week during the semester to develop choreography and apply the principles I learned. 

How did you hear about the Undergraduate Research Award program?

I was a dancer in another student’s project for URCAD last year and learned a lot about the program through that experience. 

What academic background did you have before you started?

My academic course work in dance involved a great deal of ballet and modern technique classes, as well as classes in dance composition, improvisation, performance and dance history.

Was the application difficult to do?

I found the application to be very straight forward and concise. The two page limit made me really consider what the bottom line of my project was going to be and gave me a more clear focus for my research.

How much did your mentor help you with this?

I had a meeting with my mentor even before I began filling out the application to discuss what I wanted to do and how to best represent that on the application. He then helped me edit the final proposal before I submitted it. 

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research and independent creative work?

That the possibilities are endless! There are research opportunities in every academic major so find what you are passionate about and go for it!  

What are your career goals?

After college, I hope to keep dancing on a professional level, but eventually I want to teach dance in public high schools.