Keigwin + Company brings a diverse and theatrical program to Spoleto this year. Artistic director Larry Keigwin shows Charleston a refreshing and invigorating take on contemporary dance.
"Canvas" begins with pedestrian movements - walking, running, skipping; subtle hand gestures interspersed with sudden bounding across the stage. Various groupings of dancers shift and expand as choreographic patterns emerge. Movement separates and unites bodies over and over again. The intricacies of dancers weaving among one another and changing dynamic lend a playful energy, while Adam Crystal's score has a heaviness that sometimes suggests interpersonal struggle among each pair or trio.
Keigwin uses canon - a choreographic tool in which movements introduced by one dancer are repeated exactly by subsequent dancers in turn - remarkably well, utilizing the formations of bodies in such a way that one feels as though they are within the music, watching it play out in front of them like a movie or music visualization. Dimly lit to the sounds of solo guitar, "Seven" further reveals Keigwin's ability to "see" the sound and create a human painting that shrinks and expands with the layers of the music.
"Megalopolis" with music by Steve Reich and British-Sri-Lankan pop star, M.I.A., reflects a dance club, discotheque or fashion show with undulating pelvises, angular lines and detailed mini-port de bras. If Balanchine had created "Rubies" in the 21st century, it might look something like this.
The songs of Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone provide the framework in "Love Songs," a series of duets showcasing the many faces of intimate partnership. Ashley Browne and Kile Hotchkiss are seamless in "I Put a Spell on You", while Jaclyn Walsh and Matthew Baker manipulate the masculine and feminine in "Baby I Love You" and "I Never Loved a Man" with lighthearted strength.
"Runaway," indicative of the fashion industry and the rhythmic strut of models on the runway, creates a robotic frenzy with dancers in wigs leaving the stage to break the fourth wall and walk through the audience. As clothes come off and dancers in various stages of undress fill the stage, thoughts of Barbie, rigid and angular, come to mind.
Each dancer's bio reads like a who's who in contemporary/modern choreographers with diverse backgrounds ranging in repertory from choreographic legends Jiri Kylian and Mark Morris, to newcomers, the intriguing Sidra Bell and Company XIV darling, Austin McCormick. The sum of all parts equals an electrifying breed of dancer as athlete, entertainer, comedian and muse. Today's theatergoer desires much more from its dance and Keigwin + Company delivers more and then some.
Because the movement ranges from balletic to exceptionally pedestrian throughout each piece, one feels almost more connected to and entranced by the dancers dancing. If a dancer's role is to show his audience what the human body is capable of, Keigwin's brand of choreography suggests that you, the audience member, might just be capable, too.
Stephanie Burg is a dancer and holistic health consultant.