Larry Keigwin Made Us A Playlist & His Musical Taste Is Just As Fun As His Choreography

If you've ever seen Larry Keigwin's work, you probably guessed that he's a fun guy. His choreography is cheeky and humorous; unexpected and electrifying. And though his aesthetic is decidedly contemporary, there's a touch of that classic modern dance style that makes his partnerships with troupes like Paul Taylor Dance Company and Martha Graham Dance Company so fitting.

His musical taste is pretty similar: eclectic feel-good bops from the contemporary (Justin Bieber) to the classic (Dionne Warwick.) He made us a playlist of the songs that make him move, whether in the studio or in his bedroom:


What He's Doing When He's Listening to These Songs:

"I am most likely dancing 'like nobody is watching' in my bedroom. I listen to this playlist to let go, to warm up, as a motor to generate new moves or to shake up a creative block."

Why He's Always Loved Sheila E's "The Glamorous Life"

"I remember jamming to this song as a teenager. Imagine a 12-year-old boy lip-syncing into a hairbrush....that was me."

Why His Playlists Are So Eclectic

"Variety is the spice of life. I enjoy mixing genres and decades. I like to keep my playlists full of surprises."

On His "Knock On Wood" Nightclub Act

"I actually choreographed to this song and cast one dancer as lightning and another as thunder, both completely covered in body paint."

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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