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KEIGWIN + COMPANY at the Joyce Theater

July 16, 2012

Kile Hotchkiss, Aaron Carr & Emily Scheon in “Trio”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murph

 Larry Keigwin’s KEIGWIN + COMPANY. opened its fifth season at the Joyce in June with two world premieres, 12 Chairs and Contact Sport. 

The curtain rises and you see twelve dancers in twelve chairs at the edge of the stage looking back at you. At once you’re curious, for it’s an intriguing beginning. The dancers are dressed in street causal clothes; they lean, look, and adjust various seating positions. Legs crossed, one leg on the knee of the other leg, it’s a lot of activity, dancers shifting this way and that.

“12 Chairs” , KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

The piece is driven by the techno score “Flexus” by Melville Pratt, giving the dance an energetic, pulsing rhythm. They slouch together, then one dancer will lean forward to look past the other dancer, and they fall off their chairs and then get back up.

The chairs are moved in different groupings; dancers got up and switched places and then returned to where they were originally. Everyday gestures were used, yawning (or perhaps that was me), rolling shoulders to release tension and stretching. People fall from their chairs, get back up and do it again. Waves of movements are started, using the chair as a base that rippled along the dancers, each moving in sync with the other.

“12 Chairs” KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

Then, just when the rhythm of the dance was building and you thought it was really going to develop into something special, it doesn’t and it never does. Unfortunately, 12 Chairs lacks direction, it doesn’t make a statement, plus the dance travels along an even plane that never heightens or suspends. The work has great promise, it’s clever, original and fun to watch, I just don’t feel it’s finished, it needs some editing and re-choreographing here and there.

Kyle Hotchkiss in “Trio”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

Trio, created in 2011, was originally titled “Balloon Dance” when it was first staged for the Guggenheim’s “Works and Process” last year. Danced by Aaron Carr, Kile Hotchkiss and Emily Scheon it is a dazzling display of virtuosity. Adam Crystal’s “No. 6 for Piano, Marimba, Cello and Violin” has a lyricism which the dancers explored with a sense of freedom and bold expressive moves. Liz Prince costumed the dancers in silver-gray kilts with bright pink lining that leant a splash of color, not too much, just enough.

Aaron Carr in “Trio”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

Trio seems to be movement for movement’s sake. There is a slight nod to Cunningham in the intricacy of the patterns of the dance. Aaron Carr is a dancer you want to see dance, his movement is full and honest. He holds you as he flows from one movement to the next. I would go anywhere to watch Kile Hotchkiss dance, with his long, lean line and blond good looks; everything he does is majestic and powerful. Ms. Scheon held her own with these two, weaving from one partner to the next and then with both, she was beautiful and a treat to watch.

Matthew Baker, Aaron Carr, Brandon Cournay & Gary Schaufeld in “Contact Sport”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

Contact Sport, the second premiere of the night, was fun and rambunctious, the antics of four mischievous school boys, Matthew Baker, Aaron Carr, Brandon Cournay and Gary Schaufeld. Dressed in school uniforms, three of the men wore shorts and white shirts with ties, while one wore slacks with a white shirt and tie. Marion Talan’s costume gave it a fun look. I found myself smiling throughout the work.

Matthew Baker in "Contact Sport", KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

The men didn’t just dance, but actually played with the music of Eartha Kit’s “Monotonous,” “C’mon a My House,” “Easy to Love” and “It Was a Very Good Year”. There is a lot of rough and tumble play and great leaps and twisted turns. Antics everywhere, one dancer gets his shorts pulled down and stands embarrassed for the audience. It was sheer fun.

Aaron Carr in “Megalopolis”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

Megalopolis from 2009 was my favorite of the night. Created on the dance students of Juilliard, it has a retro-futuristic vibe. The music is a combo of Steve Reich and Hip-hop recording artist, MIA. This is what I was waiting for; it grabbed me and pulled me in, it was delicious and captivating.

The costumes by Fritz Masten were brilliant, very retro, tight bodysuits, either metallic or black with a hint of metallic somewhere. The lighting design by Burke Wilson only added to the futuristic feel and transformed the stage into a Mad Max sort of club scene. Everyone primping and in their best attempt at a prissy walk ambling across the stage, it’s hard not to enjoy it.

Kile Hotchkiss & Justin Dominic in “Megalopolis”, KEIGWIN + COMPANY Photo by Matthew Murphy

At the end of the evening, everyone, including me were on their feet. There was more to like than dislike. There were things that need tweaking, such as 12 Chairs, but all in all it was an enjoyable evening.

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