Keigwin + Company wowed and tickled with its versatile dancing chops and goofy gags.

January 22, 2011

Keigwin + Company at the Annenberg tickles, dazzles

By Lisa Kraus

For The Inquirer

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Larry Keigwin has the body of a virtuosic dancer and the soul of a clown. His star is on the rise and it's easy to see why.

In a suite of tight, easy-to-read, and eminently entertaining pieces at Dance Celebration at Penn Presents, his eight-member troupe Keigwin + Company wowed and tickled the Thursday-night audience with its versatile dancing chops and goofy gags.

The full-evening work, "Elements," cycles through Water, Fire, Earth, and Air with several song-length dances devoted to each. Musical choices are all over the map, with selections from Handel, Philip Glass, Patsy Cline, the rapper Unk, and more.

In Water, the luscious Kristina Hanna is a beach beauty a la Marilyn Monroe, borne aloft by three admirers in robes. Matthew Baker minces beguilingly in high heels, and there's teasing play with water sprays and cover-up towels that could drop at any moment. Sweeping over the stage in eddying clusters, the dancers hit the peaks of waves to swirl backward and around again. Leaps and turns get extra oomph to sail a bit higher and whip a bit more than you'd expect.

Earth roams the lizard realm with darting tongues and angled elbows. Keigwin's own solo beginning this section recalls the two-dimensionality of his earlier hit duo with Mark Dendy, Afternoon of the Fauns, also staged to Debussy.

Fire includes a hot hip-hop trio and hyped-up firebirds, and Air plays off images of flight attendants and balloons.

What unifies the whole is Keigwin's unerring craft in shaping the sections, often in accord with the trope that comedy is all in the timing. He delivers punch lines perfectly, often with a zinger to close a section - a red umbrella popping open, or some other witty surprise (which I'll leave for you to discover). Liz Prince's costumes add whimsy and dash.

Keigwin's dancers, who come out individually in the evening's many cameos, give their all, and are well-schooled in both theatrics and wide-ranging dance techniques.

Does Keigwin's ambition to effectively marry art and entertainment yield a product that sticks to the ribs? If this question matters to you, the answer may be "not enough." But Keigwin + Company puts on a terrific show, and euphoria onstage in the dark winter days can't hurt, right?