Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2005 | Features

Spotlight on Louis Falco

By Judy Polumbaum

Louis Falco was the fifth and last child of Italian immigrants and made much of what he called the "robust gaiety" of his Italian heritage, telling an interviewer, "I don't come from a quiet, subtle background." He also attributed his rough-and-tumble attitudes and lack of inhibitions to his childhood on New York's Lower East Side, saying, "I don't have the same taboos as other people. I don't censor. I have a certain freedom that others don't."

Hired by the celebrated Jose Limon company in 1960, Falco introduced his own compositions in late 1967, while still dancing for Limon but beginning to part ways with what he saw as excessively rigid traditions. He later acknowledged that he hadn't left the Limon troupe —he'd been fired. By that time he was leading his own.

The reviewers agreed something special was going on, although they couldn't always put their finger on it. From the outset, Falco's vigor and abandon impressed Clive Barnes, the primary dance writer for the New York Times, and Falco would become one of his favorite choreographers.

"Dance to him is a ceremony, a celebration," Barnes wrote, "and he lets his dancers move gratefully and happily." Another Times writer, Don McDonagh, began a review: "I don't know exactly where Louis Falco is going choreographically, but I love to watch him getting there. Barnes compared the company to "a commune set to music," and his colleague Anna Kisselgoff called it "the ultimate in disheveled chic."