Dance Entertainment

Sarah Stackhouse, Star Interpreter of José Limón, Dies at 87

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Sarah Stackhouse, a star dancer within the Limón Dance Firm who turned a sought-after trainer and stager of José Limón’s choreography around the globe, died on Jan. 7 at her house in New Paltz, N.Y. She was 87.

The corporate introduced the dying. Her pal Diana Byer, the founder and former creative director of New York Theater Ballet, stated the trigger was salivary most cancers.

Mr. Limón was already one of many twentieth century’s most influential choreographers when Ms. Stackhouse joined his firm in 1958. Her virtuosic dance method, pure charisma and compelling appearing completely suited his flowing motion model and summary narrative works, that are nonetheless carried out by his firm and plenty of others around the globe.

The function of Desdemona in Mr. Limón’s most well-known work, “The Moor’s Pavane,” primarily based on Shakespeare’s “Othello,” showcased her presents. “She stepped onstage, and it was so free,” Ms. Byer stated in a cellphone interview. “It wasn’t Sarah dancing the function; she was the function.”

Her accomplice in that work and plenty of others was a fellow firm member, Louis Falco. “They had been a type of fabulous partnerships that come up hardly ever,” Ms. Byer stated.

After leaving the corporate in 1969, Ms. Stackhouse carried out with the ensemble Louis Falco and a Firm of Featured Dancers in addition to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She was a founding member of the American Dance Theater at Lincoln Heart. However her reference to Mr. Limón and his firm endured for the remainder of her life: She was his educating assistant on the Juilliard College till his dying in 1972, carried out in firm reunions and staged his works internationally.

Ms. Stackhouse’s charisma and artistry by no means left her. When she carried out Mr. Limón’s solo “Chaconne” in 1982, Jennifer Dunning of The New York Occasions praised her “compelling lucidity and dedication.” Noting Ms. Stackhouse’s solo efficiency with the Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theater in 2008, Ms. Dunning wrote, “Her presents have been solid within the hearth of dance historical past.”

One critic even recommended that Ms. Stackhouse had improved on Mr. Limón’s work. “Bach’s ‘Musical Providing’ has at all times appeared too lengthy and tutorial,” Anna Kisselgoff wrote in a 1995 Occasions overview of Mr. Limón’s “A Choreographic Providing,” set to the Bach piece. “Sarah Stackhouse’s new staging of this abbreviated suite works higher.”

Sarah Leigh Stackhouse was born on March 19, 1936, in Chicago, the youthful of two daughters of Howard Leigh Stackhouse, a mechanical engineer for Basic Meals, and Helen Mary (Quhne) Stackhouse, a trainer who additionally managed the family. Ms. Stackhouse was in elementary college when she took her first dance lessons, on the Battle Creek College of Dancing. After the household relocated to Scarsdale, N.Y., she enrolled within the Steffi Nossen College of Dance and graduated from Scarsdale Excessive College in 1954.

It was on the Nossen college that Ms. Stackhouse got here into direct contact with the primary technology of recent dance innovators. Ms. Nossen admired the work of the pioneering choreographers Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Within the first a long time of the twentieth century, they blended ballet traditions with influences from India, Asia, Africa and Indigenous cultures that had been hardly ever seen on skilled phases in America on the time. Consequently, Ms. Stackhouse’s early coaching was unusually eclectic.

She encountered Mr. Limón on the American Dance Competition, a six-week summer time workshop then held at Connecticut School in New London. (Since 1948, it has been primarily based at Duke College in North Carolina.) That summer time, she additionally took lessons from the fashionable dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.

After incomes a bachelor’s diploma in dance from the College of Wisconsin in 1954, Ms. Stackhouse moved to New York Metropolis, the place she discovered work as a dance trainer for the New York Police Athletic League. She additionally took trendy dance lessons with the choreographer Merce Cunningham and ballet instruction with the British luminaries Antony Tudor and Margaret Craske. And earlier than becoming a member of the Limón firm in 1958, she studied Afro-Fashionable dance — a fusion of African, Cuban and trendy motion — with Syvilla Fort, whose college students additionally included Marlon Brando, James Dean and Eartha Kitt.

Mr. Limón, who had based his troupe with the choreographer Doris Humphrey, prized Ms. Stackhouse’s versatility and expressive stage presence.

In 1968, at a celebration held by Carla Maxwell, her fellow principal dancer within the Limón firm, Ms. Stackhouse met her future husband, Leonardo Seeber, a analysis scientist on the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia College. The following 12 months Ms. Stackhouse left the Limón firm, and the couple launched into an itinerant life that took them to Mr. Seeber’s household winery close to Rome and to Pakistan, the place their son, Roel Seeber, was born.

Ms. Stackhouse is survived by her husband, who goes by Nano, and their son, additionally knowledgeable dancer, in addition to her sister and a grandson.

All through the household’s time overseas, Ms. Stackhouse traveled to New York to proceed educating, staging and performing. On their everlasting return in 1977, she joined the college on the Conservatory of Dance at Buy School, a part of the State College of New York. Her profession finally made her a dance ambassador of types, taking her to Italy, China, South America and India. She served as an American cultural specialist for the Cultural Packages Division of the State Division. She additionally lectured and wrote about dance, contributing essays to quite a few books, and staged Mr. Limón’s works for New York Theater Ballet till late 2022.

Ms. Byer remembered Ms. Stackhouse as a sort however no-nonsense mentor. “She was beneficiant, however she was demanding,” Ms. Byer stated. “She anticipated you to satisfy her expectations.”