In his choreography, Limón spoke to the complexities of human life as experienced through the body. His dances feature large, visceral gestures — reaching, bending, pulling, grasping — to communicate emotion. Inspired in part by his teacher Doris Humphrey‘s theories about the importance of body weight and dynamics, his own Limón technique emphasizes the rhythms of falling and recovering balance and the importance of good breathing to maintaining flow in a dance. He also utilized the dance vocabulary developed by both Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, which aimed at demonstrating emotion through dance in a way that was much less strict and stylized than ballet as well as used movements of the body that felt most natural and went along with gravity.
Limón’s most well-known work is The Moor’s Pavane (1949), based on Shakespeare’s Othello, which won a major award. Other works were inspired by subjects as diverse as the McCarthy hearings (The Traitor) and the life of La Malinche, who served as interpreter for Hernán Cortés. Limón generally sets his dances to music, choosing composers ranging from Ludwig van Beethoven and Frederic Chopin to Arnold Schoenberg and Heitor Villa-Lobos.