Keigwin + Company at the Joyce 2012
Larry Keigwin, known for his wit and electricity, returned to the Joyce this week for the company’s fifth home season.The mix of old and brand new works presented expected pizzazz but perhaps also a more studious side of the hip choreographer.
The evening opens with 12 Chairs. They (the chairs and the dancers that filled them) are set in a grid pattern through the stage space. Dancers, dressed in pedestrian chic, are in “human” mode. Sitting slightly slouched, they sometimes scratch their heads, look out inquisitively or lean to a side. All shifts occur on beat to the driving electronic score of Jonathan Pratt. At first the dancers confine their movement to their chair only. But soon the dancers are shifting spots, carefully calculating their next chair move as if pieces of a chess match. An attitude of nervous possession of a seat is very reminiscent of a panicked round of grade school musical chairs. Keigwin showcases his knack for efficiency. No step is too drawn out. Dancers step up on the base of chairs and spin as if it is as simple as sitting down. They are snappy when they need to be, they freeze in stillness, they are economical with changes in space. I am struck by the ripple effect of motion down the line of chairs when I zoom out to see the whole picture. The piece culminates in a straight line across the stage where we get a slowed down version of the earlier shifts, but this time we can examine each dancer. Although the choreography is quirky, the mood is serious. I feel as if perhaps I am missing an underlying turmoil.
Trio is an adaptation of Balloon Dance, created for the Guggenheim Works in Process earlier this year. But, disappointingly there are no balloons present. The backdrop is a cool mint color and the air is serene and patient. Despite a few back attitude turns and some sweeping phrasework, Mr. Keigwin’s signature style drops out almost entirely. This is a pretty dance, but it lacks punch. Dancers limbs fall short of stretching to their full potential, and their gazes both toward each other and at the audience do not extend past the lip of the stage. It feels strange; Keigwin’s bunch feed on spotlight and skill. Circular patterning, high-held lifts and moments of twisted partnering are interesting. The problem is that when you take dance to the next level, the audience becomes accustomed to continual bar-raising.
Contact Sport brings back the fun with four male dancers in the story of four brothers. They are dressed to impress in ties, collared tshirts and dapper shorts. It is a past era, almost recalling the boys of Dead Poets’ Society–the mischievous collegiate type, sensitive and stubborn. Eartha Kit sings “Monotonous,” “C’mon a My House,” “Easy to Love” and finally “It Was a Very Good Year.” The lyrics for each song seem to ring out the changing tale of the boys. They compete, provoke, tease and play. But ultimately, they carry each other.
Megalopolis first premiered in 2009 to much acclaim for its glittery fab costumes and the genius interweaving of concert dance and nightclub. In this program it is as welcome as an old friend, and perfect to close. Neon light tubes illuminate from the back wall as dancers emerge, frosted in sparkle. Each of Fritz Masten’s costumes is different, but together they could be a runway collection. Some are gilded just along the spine, others around the face. The movement is quick and driving. As one group exits, another is entering. They stride with power and grace, their arms moving in geometric patterns in opposition to their steady feet. References to club dancing, such as a hip thrust forward or a booty circle back, are already present to Steve Reich’s score, but are understated. When the music changes to MIA and Aaron Carr emerges with lights now on his palm, we know we have hit the club. This is where Keigwin’s company really shines. Classical training elevates the ability to strut, drop, and shake. Their commitment is delightful. Megalopolis flows effortlessly between the two environments and it is clear that it is in this vein the company is really at home.