Magazine

Why I Choreograph: Larry Keigwin

Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Keigwin.

I was the gotta dance kid. I was always moving. My earliest dance memory is dancing on my front lawn with abandon, performing choreographed routines for passing cars. Fast-forward 10 years to high school, and I became obsessed with “Club MTV," a dance show on the channel back when it played music videos. One day I took the Long Island Rail Road into Manhattan to audition and got my first paying dance job. I made my stage debut shortly after during a high school production of My Fair Lady. When I landed flat on my back during an unfortunate, overly eager hitch kick, it was clear I needed to start training.

During my time at Hofstra University, my love of movement was married with a fascination to create, make, express. I loved being in a studio with dancers and felt nourished by not only our collaborations, but by just being together, navigating life. Choreographing became a lens through which I could understand the world. It was at Hofstra where I choreographed 10th Floor, a work that explores my brother's struggle with mental illness, and the process allowed me to uncover a choreographic voice, while igniting my drive and fire to make dance.

That fire is continually stoked by working with dancers. When I start a piece, I often don't know what I'm going to create. I sometimes arrive with a kernel of an idea—about an observation of New Yorkers on a sidewalk, an aspect of a relationship, a documentary on ant colonies that had inspired a down-the-rabbit-hole spout of internet research. From there, playful exercises with my dancers will reveal a spark, a hook that provides a launching point. I am endlessly interested in unveiling dancers' unique personalities and idiosyncrasies. For me, choreographing a dance is putting the pieces together to create a whole, so often, I see myself as a dressmaker: The dancers help create the fabric, imbuing it with color and texture; I see the dress in its entirety and sew it together.

I started KEIGWIN + COMPANY only when I had created enough work to put on a show. That excitement to put together an evening with friends, co-conspirators, collaborators, was the original driving force. I still remember making our entrance from the fire escape because I wanted it to be different. As I embark on my second decade of making dances, I'm reminded of that kid dancing on the front lawn, and the sheer joy he took in sharing his passion.

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