Choreographer Larry Keigwin let's his dancer's personalities shine through in Elements

January 19, 2011

Keigwin + Company ready to kick-ass in Phillyby Lewis WhittingtonEDGE ContributorWednesday Jan 19, 2011

Larry Keigwin
is a much sought after choreographer in dance, theater and even fashion. But on most days, he is one of eight dancers who make up Keigwin + Company.

Singly each brings their own personality to their work; collectively they express Keigwin’s humorous and athletic choreography, as well as his keen pop culture sensibility. In short, he creates choreography for the times.

The New York based company brings their show Elements to the Annenberg Center from January 20 - 22, 2011.

Speaking to Keigwin by phone from New York, he said that he is pulled in many directions "a director, business person and freelance artist." And that he doesn’t dance "as much as I used to.

"But I will be dancing in Philly," he added.

"Elements has four sections - Earth, fire, air and water - and I dance in three. The music ranges from Mozart to Eartha Kitt. There is hip-hop, ballet, modern and some club influence. It’s very theatrical, witty, hopefully not trite.

"I like a lot of variety," he continued. "For instance the new work we’re creating for the Joyce Theater this spring is titled Dark Habits. And the content is what the title suggests. It’s about the nature of addiction, recovery and some about the lives of these dancers that is told in the setting of a dance club."

Making his dancers look good

What Keigwin enjoys doing is let his dancers’ personalities come through in the choreography. "It’s part of a choreographer’s job to let the dancers look good. I’ve been a dancer with many companies and the parts I enjoyed most were the ones closest to my own character.

"These dancers are very talented movers," he continued, "and are at ease with dance socially, concert dance and, technically in many styles. They kick-ass."

In fact his manner as a choreographer, he’s pretty laid-back and really doesn’t enjoy being in charge.

"I hate that part. That does not come natural to me. But, every once in a while, there’s a deadline and there has to be discipline for me and for the dancers."

Rather he sees his role as being more collaborative.

"I like to leave a lot of room for mistakes and other ideas. It comes through by playing with the dancers. The humor comes from the climate we set in the rehearsal studio, which is one of playfulness. And there is generally a very free energy there. We’re not quick to judge... but we are quick to play."

Amongst his more recent achievements Keigwin choreographed the public space spectacle at Lincoln Center during Fashion’s Night Out: The Show, last fall.

"Fashion Week was a different story. It was all sketched out and all computerized. There were 175 models and they were all mapped out on a computer beforehand. But we only had three hours with the models the day of the event, so we needed to be strategic."

On another front Keigwin is has been picked to choreograph the musical version of Tales of the City. "But," he confessed "I never read the books. I do, though, know about their place in 70s gay history. And I’m definitely a product the disco 70s. Betty Buckley is playing Anna Madrigal and The Scissor Sisters (Jake Shears and John Garden) are writing the music." The world premiere production is scheduled to run form May 17 - June 19, 2010 at the A.C.T. The book to the show is being adapted from Armistead Maupin’s best-selling novels by Jeff Whitty (who won a Tony Award for Avenue Q) and is being directed by Avenue Q’s director Jason Moore.