Keigwin + Company brought power and conviction to the Sandler Center stage last weekend. It’s rare to see a dance company perform a show of this intensity with 100% commitment to each movement and without the slightest loss of focus. Keigwin + Company achieved this last Sunday.
The company is based in New York, and was founded by Larry Keigwin (Artistic Director) and Nicole Wolcott (Associate Director) in 2003. The company has performed throughout the country, and is currently celebrating their 10th season. Along with concert performances, K+C is very involved with community dance projects and education. The company coordinated and produced the Bolero Virginia performance that took place on the Scope Plaza last Friday and Saturday nights. Bolero Virginia brought together over 50 members of the local community, who rehearsed with K+C during their three-week residency.
Five pieces from the company’s repertoire formed the program for Sunday afternoon’s show. I was especially impressed with the variety that the pieces had, considering they were all choreographed by Larry Keigwin (with the exception of “Love Songs,” which was choreographed by Larry Keigwin and company). Though a continuity of style was woven throughout the program, there were dramatic contrasts between the different works.
The performance opened with “Triptych” from 2009 – a strong, fast-paced dance filled with sharp arm movements and bold steps. The seven dancers moved fervently across the stage: in and out of the wings, in groups, in lines, alone… The choreography made me think of Bob Fosse; that’s not to say that the choreography looked like Fosse, because it didn’t. It made me think of Fosse because Keigwin, like Fosse, was able to take simple movements (such as waving and walking), stylize and arrange them so that they became fascinating.
The dancing continued with “Love Songs” and “Runaway.” “Love Songs” was made up of two couples that each performed two pas de deux. (The program listed another couple that was also set to dance to two songs, but their section was inexplicably cut.) Each couple’s relationship had such a different personality: the first couple had a very innocent manner, dancing with an air of shyness and tentativeness, perhaps representing new love; the second couple’s choreography was full of partnering which required them to use each other’s weight and counterbalance – their dance was impassioned, and full of tension. “Runaway” brought the entire company together for a fashion and runway inspired piece. The ladies wore dresses with wigs arranged into very tall hairstyles, and the men wore suits. Though much of this witty piece was made up of the dancers walking along the square “runway” created on the stage by the lights, there were dance steps interjected throughout. By the end, the dancers were in various states of undress: some were in undergarments, a few had a shirt with no pants, and some were still fully clothed.
“Girls” opened the second half of the program. The three ladies in the piece danced in, around, and through what I would describe as shimmery, brightly colored tinsel curtains. Accompanied by a medley of Frank Sinatra tunes, the movements in this dance were more lyrical and balletic (there was even a brisé!). I was taken aback by the costume selection however. I would have expected the ladies to be wearing sparkly dresses to go along with the glistening curtains and Frank’s crooning; instead, the ladies wore light brown pants, white sleeveless shirts, and suspenders. But perhaps that was the point – to do the unexpected.
The finale of the show was “Megalopolis,” a space-age styled piece in which the dancers wore black and silver costumes. Sharp, angular movements returned, and again the dancers traversed the stage more frequently than they stayed on it. The music was a hypnotic, even-toned marimba melody, until suddenly, a fast hip-hop/techno/funk-ish track by MIA blasted me out of my seat. The choreography changed to fit the music, with quick, sharp, and syncopated movements with a hip-hop undertone. The audience was definitely caught up in the lively energy emanating from the stage; hoots and cheers emerged from all areas of the theater. The piece went back to the marimba music one more time, but finished off with a second excerpt of MIA. The dancers were clearly having a blast; they seemed almost giddy. The end of the piece mostly consisted of the dancers running single file across the stage and back; I was hoping for more steps like the first MIA section, with all of the dancers on the stage, performing intricate and dynamic movements. But then suddenly, it was over.
Keigwin + Company certainly puts on a great show. Larry Keigwin is a skilled choreographer; his work has depth, and mixes a wide assortment of styles and emotions that the dancers present exceedingly well. Their technique, strength, and presence fill each moment and phrase. I’m thankful that the Virginia Arts Festival introduced me to K+G. This performance was my first experience with them, but it will certainly not be the last.