Keigwin + Company
The Joyce Theater, NYC
March 16–21, 2010
Reviewed by Susan Yung
Aaron Carr, Matthew Baker, and Ashley Browne in Bird Watching. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Keigwin + Company.
Larry Keigwin's choreography has hit upon a delicate balance of rigorous and populist. He has become a blue collar dancemaker—and that’s meant as a compliment. He excels when given a task, a large number of people, or a theme, which is not to say that his more abstract dances—which tend to be technically challenging—aren’t interesting. And between his company's ambitious seasons, his appearances at the Fall for Dance festival, and his participation in Juilliard's concerts, his work is becoming increasingly visible in New York.
In the seven-year-old company’s first week-long run at the Joyce, Keigwin combined the multi-section Mattress Suite (2001–04) with newer repertory, including the world premiere of Bird Watching. The title might allude to the highly self-conscious, preening creatures in slick black-and-white ice dancing–inspired costumes. They sported gaudy, sparkling rings on each finger, fanning them furiously in front of their faces to produce clacking sounds. They strutted proudly on tiptoe, hands on shoulders forming winglets. This dance may have been mostly plotless, its dynamics somewhat at odds with the Haydn music to which it is set. But its structured formations and patterns—wedge shapes and lines—have their own visual snap.
This formality was put to good use in Runaway (2008), a merciless satire of high fashion. The sunken-cheeked men in sleek suits looked chic, while the women wore ridiculous neon bouffant wigs above their colored sheaths. Soon enough, the dancers stripped down to their skivvies, indifferent to the lack of clothing. The entire Joyce, aisles and all, became an enormous catwalk on which the robotic dancers strutted, planted, and pivoted.
Caffeinated (2007) was also a showcase for geometric marching patterns carved by coffee cup-holding company members (including Keigwin, a gifted mover) and Juilliard students in athletic garb.
Mattress Suite exemplified the way Keigwin moves easily between humor and an eagerness to explore an idea or object to the nth degree. Its six sections featured a range of characters, from bride and groom to male threesome; its tone shifted from playful to seductive but always kept in mind our search for love, and—of course—a mattress.