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Back, In a Solo Again—with Friends: Keigwin + Company Return to The Joyce

Back, In a Solo Again—with Friends: Keigwin + Company Return to The Joyce
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on December 4, 2015
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Joined by Choreographers Adam Barruch and Loni Landon

at The Joyce Theater

December 8 through the 13th-for info and to purchase tickets, click The Joyce Theater's website

Breathless, running out of rehearsal, slightly frantic —his Joyce season is in less than a week, after all — the dashing choreographer Larry Keigwin is attempting a phone interview.

Sounds like he needs a minute before we talk. (OK, try 30 or 45.)  When I call back, Keigwin laughs affably while describing the bedlam he has recently escaped. The entire cast of his upcoming concert was stuffed into one small dance studio to run the evening of company debuts and world premieres. We’re talking about three choreographers, two besides Keigwin, and 15 dancers, eight more than the usual K+C group. (I am sure musicians, composers, technicians and various and sundry helpers were hanging out in that studio too, adding to the commotion.)

Larry Keigwin and his Company; Photo by Matthew Murphy

The extra dancers were there for a special re-visit of Exit Like An Animal, a work Keigwin created last year for Juilliard. The new choreographers, Adam Barruch and Loni Landon, are emerging talents with strong dance chops and promising careers ahead. This season marks the first that Keigwin has invited other dance makers into his concert work. “A lot of energy, and a lot of personalities to wrangle,” Larry says. “Kind of like parenting.”  

I try to imagine what it would be like to run a household with 15 plus artists, and then think, “better Larry Keigwin than me.”

Actually Keigwin thrives when surrounding himself with bright, shiny creative types, and wrangling doesn’t seem necessary. Those of us who have watched his career over the years, know he loves meeting people. He has that magic glimmer in his eye, which easily promises any new artist or audience member, “This is going to be fun.”

Loni Landon On Dancing with Friends at The Joyce ( cover photo by Whitney Browne)

Like his many dance friends, Keigwin’s interests are eclectic. He has choreographed for ballet, off-Broadway, Broadway, classic modern dance, Fashion Week — even the Radio City Rockettes. Let’s not forget his playing with vaudeville and burlesque performers like Dirty Martini, and Whitney Biennial artist and conceptual choreographer, Julie Atlas Muz, in his Keigwin Kabaret creations. Then there are the non-dancers he invites into the game for Bolero. Keigwin + (his) Company encourage movers of all ages and levels of experience to play with Maurice Ravel’s Bolero in one-of-a-kind productions created specifically for their bodies and locales. To date 11 productions of Bolero have taken place across the nation from New York to Santa Barbara, with a Busby Berkeley-inspired film, Bolero Senior Citizens, slated to be released in next year. Did I mention that in March he will premiere a new work for Paul Taylor American Modern Dance?

Elaborating on bringing in new choreographer “friends” to this Joyce season Keigwin says, “About a year-and-a-half-ago we went through a strategic planning session and I began to become curious about curating. How fun, an evolution. I enjoy mixed repertory shows…seeing other dance and meeting and learning of other choreographers. I wanted to give that experience to our audience.” He refers to this venture as a “test drive” and so far seems to be loving the ride.

Adam talks about his new work, Drop. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Keigwin discovered Adam Barruch at Bates Dance Festival, where the young choreographer was part of an emerging artist program, and he met Loni Landon at Juilliard last year, where she and Larry both had assignments to choreograph for the school’s New Dance program. “I always say, ‘poetic beauty’ for Loni’s work and I think of Adam’ s as being ‘beautifully fluid with a sensuous use of port de bras and that theatricality.’ I adore them both as human beings, as artists, and as choreographers. I can’t emphasize how much I appreciate the whole picture.”

Despite his initial enthusiasm for the project, he still needed to float the idea of working with new choreographers to his company. Fortunately they approved and now Keigwin finds that through Barruch and Landon, he is being reintroduced to the artistry of his dancers. “It’s refreshing to see them in vocabulary that isn’t all mine… It’s challenging (for them) because the processes are different, but at the same time it’s nurturing. Lots of new food for thought that’s stretching them in different ways. Honestly, what I have been most surprised with is how versatile the dancers are…and they just look incredible.”

Loni Landon on working with Composer, Jerome Begin; Photo by Foster Mickley

Speaking of stretching, the spry 40-something-year-old Keigwin has been stretching and bending and “not doing anything his body shouldn’t,” while working on a solo, his first in 10 years. It was Mark Dendy, who encouraged him to create his first ever solo, the mesmerizing, Ain’t No Sunshine, danced to Bill Wither’s song of the same title. Keigwin says, “That music was playing when we were warming up (with Dendy’s company) somewhere on tour, and Mark said, ‘You should make a solo to this.’ The following week I did; then, he put it on the program.” That dance, the impetus for Keigwin + Company’s creation, was followed by a duet with Nicole Wolcott, then a trio, and then, well, the rest is history.  

Two years ago, Dendy contacted Keigwin after a Joyce season with a very complimentary email also reminding him, “You know you’re not going to dance forever. I think its time you get back on stage.”  

“That resonated with me,” admits the choreographer. “You know whenever someone sends a thoughtful email post show, well, I am so grateful for that. I felt very supported and took him up (again) on that challenge.”

So, what’s it like creating a solo for yourself after 10 years?

“Oh my god, it’s so weird. Going to the studio by yourself and having one critic always on your shoulder judging, judging. But now that I’ve settled on music and the steps are all choreographed, I feel like its time to relax and enjoy it, to be in the moment. I am excited to dance again.”




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